Our DNA is the main carrier of our hereditary information, it makes us unique. The more we know about it, the better we can respond to the possibilities (and impossibilities) of our body. You can now also specifically train and eat based on your personal DNA. But how does that work?
Can a DNA test help you lose weight and live a healthier life?
Everyone is different, we know that. It is therefore not surprising that some people lose weight very easily, and others strictly follow a diet without result. It is especially difficult to find a diet that suits you and have results. Perhaps the key is in your DNA. At least, that is what some companies want you to believe. With DNA dietary tests you would know exactly how to lose weight and get a tailor-made diet. Does that really work?
The link between your genes and nutrition is certainly discovering scientists more and more. The Inuit from Greenland, for example, have certain genes that enable them to better handle their traditional diet. Another study shows that many of us have a gene called FTO that gives you more chance of obesity. Fortunately, the same study shows that diet and exercise can significantly reduce the effect of the gene. These are just a few examples, but the link between genes and nutrition is there.
WHAT ARE GENES?
According to the report of one of the test results,
“A gene is a segment of the DNA (short for deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule that contains the instructions for how, when and where your body makes each of the many thousands of proteins required for life.
“Each gene is comprised of thousands of combinations of four letters that make up your genetic code: A, T, C, and G.”
Those letters can be seen in the DNA report. The different variations can indicate a weakness to dietary issues or sporting potential.
Thanks to new developments, the way that we can access DNA testing has changed significantly, because now you can easily order a test online.
HOW IS GENE TESTING CARRIED OUT?
Nutri-genetics is the discipline that researches this, and ultimately the goal is to provide nutrition advice to people based on their genes. But that is the ultimate goal, this does not stop companies such as Atlas DNA test, DNAFit, 23andMe, MyDNA weight Management and many others from starting already with it.
For a certain amount and a little saliva in a tube, you get a fully personalized report with all kinds of health advice based on your genes. Although your DNA is billions of letters long, these types of companies only look at a number of letters. Finally, 99.9% of the letters are the same. Based on the variations, SNPs or snips, they give health advice.
This sounds pretty attractive because it gets rid of those one-size-fits-all diets, and you would really get something that suits you. The guaranteed result you would say. Not surprising, for example, that top athletes sometimes use it and a few different professional football clubs have also considered it or even tried it.
What more do you need?
What we still miss is real scientific evidence
The sales pitch sounds good, and there are athletes who really use it, but what is missing is scientific evidence. For example, not all snips are known and therefore not everything can be included. Even though companies say that they know exactly what the snips do and what conclusions you can draw from them.
The snips are only associated with certain diseases. Now does this happen more often, and also in this case, that research contradicts each other. Or new associations are discovered through which different conclusions are drawn. You may be surprised, but your DNA is intensely complex.
Christopher Gardner, a nutrition researcher at Stanford University, says:
I do not think we’re going to find someone with a genetic profile showing that they have to eat more jellybeans to lose weight without knowing it.
No matter how personalized your dietary advice will be, it will not be drastically different from what we all know: more vegetables, more exercise, a better night rest sleep.
Well, there is no scientific evidence for the fact that a DNA test will help you lose weight, but that does not mean that you have to finish it off immediately as a bunch of bullshit. Yes, the companies are trying to sell you something that is probably not worth the money.
But I can think of worse things to live healthier than talking to a coach who tells you to get rid of your lazy ass. They will not tell you anything that an average nutritionist or dietitian will tell you.
Moreover, you can use the DNA test as a kind of own research. See what works and what does not, and go from there and draw your own conclusions. Do not let your choices depend on one source of information.
Gardner compares it with a horoscope: “Choose the parts that feel good, and forget the rest”.
Get to know yourself with the online DNA test from 23andMe or from DNAFIT
Where you used to be able to have a DNA test done via the GP or the hospital, we now live in an age where you can order your DNA test online. One of the companies that have become known worldwide is 23andMe. But what is 23andMe? What do you learn from a 23andMe DNA test? What are the experiences with 23andMe?
How does 23andMe work?
You order the home test kit, with which you take a saliva sample that is delivered to you along with a return envelope. You fill the supplied tube to the indicated height with saliva and then send it to a laboratory.
You register on the 23andMe website with the barcode of the test you submitted and then wait for the results …
What do I learn about my health at 23andMe?
Thanks to the powerful health care lobby, 23andMe in the United States is limited in what they can tell customers about their health. The argument here is that an average person does not know what to do with all this genetic information and that they may sometimes make bad decisions about their health. Fortunately, the EU has more confidence in its citizens and we can receive complete health reports based on the DNA sample that you send to 23andMe.
What do you find in the health report?
- 40+ reports on various hereditary medical conditions
- 10+ reports on the effect your genes have on the effect of certain medication
- 10+ reports on your genetic risk profile, so you learn more about your chance of Alzheimer’s, breast cancer and more
- 40+ reports on certain genetic traits, such as lactose intolerance or premature hair loss
What do I learn about my genealogy at 23andMe?
A DNA test of 23andMe can help you give a longer, healthier lives thanks to the various information points about your health, but can also be just ‘fun’. For example, if you wish, you can have your DNA compared to that of the million + other people who have had a DNA test carried out worldwide to see to what extent you are related to each other. Other nice information in the genealogy report of 23andMe is:
- How many percents of your DNA comes from different parts of the world or even countries
- How many percents of your DNA comes from the Neanderthals
- How this information differs for that part of your genes that you inherited from your mother and the part that you inherited from your father
Are my genetic data safe?
In principle, your data can only be viewed by yourself. You can, however, choose to have your data recorded anonymously in a large database that can then be used by international researchers to get a clearer picture of the influence of genes on certain diseases. Even then there is really nothing more to see then your gender and age and so a DNA sample cannot be traced back to you personally.
DNAFIT is offering DNA-based diet and fitness testing.
DNAFit offers a simple DNA test for health, fitness and diet. We identify the genetic predisposition of an individual for a sports and fitness profile, a diet plan and training advice through a test where you get a cotton swab along the inside of your mouth. This DNAFit analysis report is entirely based on genetics. This optimizes your training so that you train more effectively and achieve the best possible results.
The test kit from DNAFit. was well presented, clear and with easy to follow instructions.
The test itself is incredibly simple; a case of waking in the morning, opening a pack containing a swab and rubbing it on the inside of your cheek for a minute. This was then enclosed in a tube, bar-coded, and returned to DNAFit for processing.
What can I learn from my DNAFit test?
Your DNAFit test takes a scientific dive in a number of important matters. Your unique DNAFit test shows your genetic strength, endurance, a potential risk of injury, recovery speed, personal recovery time after exercise, nutritional needs and potential aerobic (VO2 max). The DNAFit Diet gives you bite-sized information with regard to your food and vitamin intake so that an ideal diet can be prepared for your genes. You get information about whether you are sensitive to carbohydrates, saturated fat, lactose, gluten, salt, caffeine and alcohol. But also your need for anti-oxidants, your detox ability and your personal nutritional needs. Plus you will receive a 12-week diet plan with recipes from nutritionists.
How reliable are the results of DNAFit?
The DNAFit results are the interpretation of an expert based on published studies. This test is the best available knowledge about the relationship between genetics and physical activity.
REPORT + CONSULTATION
The report is really comprehensive, explaining each aspect before providing you with your results and recommendations.
The report included:
- An introduction to the report
- An introduction to genetics
- A disclaimer including the assumptions that the report is based upon
- An overview of key results
- Your results including an explanation, genes analyses, your allele, its relationship to the attribute tested (e.g. carbohydrate sensitivity), and a brief recommendation
- Additional explanation where necessary (e.g. glycemic index overview when discussing carbohydrate sensitivity)
DNAFIT definitely presented the information in the clearest way possible, but it was still essential to talk through this with one of their experts.
What does DNAFit tell me about my health?
DNAFit tests are not designed to be used for general health or for medical purposes. They are only aimed at those genes that play a role in our sports and diet profile.
What happens to my DNA after the test?
After the test, your DNA will be safely destroyed according to our laboratory quality manual and process.
How do you guarantee my privacy?
DNAFit is part of DNAFit Lifesciences Ltd that is registered with the Data Protection Commissioner in the United Kingdom. We strongly enforce DATA Protection within our company.
Are you testing all my DNA?
No, we only test the genes that relate to the sports and diet profile and that we explain in the personal report. There is no testing for other genes.
In order to be able to substantiate the results of DNAFit, a study is currently being conducted in collaboration with the University of Manchester. Here the effect of genetically guided training programs is analyzed among athletes from the university who practice different sports. The first results are expected in the first quarter of 2015.
Let’s not forget that it is also about business. We all spend money on our health, beautiful sportswear or a gym membership. We are prepared to pay for something that makes us ‘better’. The fact that there is business is also apparent from the fact that there are more providers. Not only Health City is engaged in training and nutrition based on your DNA. In China and America, they have been able to carry out such a test for years and to take a report. DNA insights are also increasingly used in top sport. How you approach or turn, insight and advice based on certain genetic aspects are on the rise.
What’s in it for you?
But what do you have now, as a seasoned fitness chick, a novice healthier or a conscious sports fan? Do you already know a lot about your own body, about training and nutrition and what works for you on the basis of experience? Then DNAFit does not give you so many new insights. However, it can help you in your motivation to keep up or change something. If you do not have that much knowledge and experience yet, but would like to give direction to a new sport and diet, then a DNAFit analysis may provide you with more guidance.
On their website, DNAFit summarizes this issue well:
“DNA testing for nutrition and fitness is an emerging science. Knowledge is evolving rapidly but is still far from complete. DNAFit prides itself on basing its genetic analysis and recommendations on the best science available, but that science is dynamic and may not always be conclusive. DNAFit may benefit some people more than others, and in some case possibly provide no benefit.”.
I felt that taking the DNAFit Diet Fitness Pro-test was really worthwhile. The reports included an abundance of manageable and easily understandable information about my DNA and also provided focussed and implementable advice, which wasn’t just based on eating less and exercising more. I was particularly impressed with the strength of the connections DNAFit made between my genetics and the practical implications the results might have in terms of my diet and fitness.
At times it was slightly difficult to navigate the wealth of information included in the reports, but this was a minor issue in an otherwise excellent experience. I would recommend this test to anyone interested in improving their health and fitness, regardless of whether you’re a complete beginner or training for a marathon.
Overall, if you are curious to learn more, go ahead and take a test! Just bear in mind that they may be unable to provide the full guidance that you are searching for.
Have you taken a DNA test of this kind? Would you consider it after reading this article? I’m really keen to hear your thoughts on this!