I received my nutritional genetics results, and this is what I have learned
As a physician assistant, I often talk about how to make a healthy lifestyle more realistic. We talk about making healthy nutritional choices, vitamin and mineral supplementation, meal planning and prepping, healthy snacking, good eating habits, and the importance of exercise. However, I know that genetics determines a lot, so I decided to get a nutritional genetic evaluation to narrow down how my genes affect my nutritional and exercise needs. As it turns out, I learned a lot of surprising information about how I can best achieve my wellness goals. These results can tell you a lot of interesting things, such as your risks for vitamin deficiencies, what diet might be the best for weight loss if that’s a goal of yours, your inherent tendency to snack , whether you have caffeine, lactose, and gluten intolerances, your motivation to exercise, and even your risk for Achilles tendon injuries! All of this information is in your genes. Any time you can get information that might help you live a healthier lifestyle now and in the future, go for it.
So I was curious. How did I do? Here’s the summary of my results.
This report contained a lot of compelling information, but some revealed elevated risks which caught my attention. Here are the five that worried me the most, and how I’ve adjusted my diet and workouts to help lessen them.
Elevated risk of vitamin deficiencies: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Folate, and Iron
I have variants on multiple genes including, GSTT1, CYP2R1, GC, MTHFR, TMPRSS6, TFR2, and TF. These all put me at risk of vitamin deficiencies. Specifically, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Folate, and Iron. Which are related to decreased bone density; cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attacks; diabetes; cancer; neuro-degenerative disorders; iron deficiency anemia; decreased immunity; and auto immune disorders.
The fix: With these test results, I am now more diligent at taking my vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as, eating foods rich in these vitamins I have a tendency to be deficient in.
Elevated risk: caffeine intake
Like a lot of people, I possess a variant of the CYP1A2 gene, meaning that I have an elevated risk of heart attack and high blood pressure if I consume more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day. This has made me think twice about my second latte daily.
The fix: I really love my café latte, but I need cut back to one a day or cut it out completely.
Elevated risk of omega 3 fat deficiencies
I have the gene NOS3 variant that puts me at risk of low omega 3 fat levels and heart disease. With low omega 3’s, my triglyceride levels can increase and impair blood circulation. Omega 3 fats are also important for brain and eye health.
The Fix: Simply increase my consumption of foods rich in Omegas such as, fatty fish (salmon, trout, tuna), flaxseeds, and walnuts, or take a daily Omega 3 supplement.
Lower Resting Metabolic Rate–
I have a variant of UCP1 gene which means I burn 150 calories LESS per day. This is about 10 % lower metabolism than individuals with the typical genotype. So if I want to LOSE weight I need to consume 650 calories LESS per day.
The fix: I need to always be mindful of my calorie intake and watch my portion sizes to decrease calorie consumption, as well as, incorporate exercise to increase energy output.
Risk of Achilles tendon injury
I also have a variant of the COL5A1 gene which puts me at risk of an achilles tendon injury. Your achilles tendon starts at your heel bone and continues up to your calf muscle. It gives you the ability to point your toes and extend your foot. Injuries arise of activities that require a sudden burst of energy or overextension. I actually have already had an achilles injury and now I know I am at an elevated genetic risk.
The Fix: To prevent injuries, I need to make sure to stretch my calf muscles and spend more time warming up and cooling down with exercise.
As you can see, I just need to make a few tiny changes, but they could make a big impact on my long-term health and wellness. And that’s the real lesson here. Instead of making big changes, you can make small ones that might deliver huge results in the future.