My Secret To A Life Well Lived: DNA Analysis
Understanding my DNA profile has changed how I live, and as I face and move into the second half of my life, I pay attention to the genes that may affect my cognition, mobility, and memory! I love this so much. If you’re a GENX woman struggling to find answers about your health, mood, sleep, or so much more, this may be the next part of your journey.
When I discovered that I was a little off, in my 2nd year of recovery, and when I say off… I mean, my circuitry wasn’t quite firing. My hormones were not regulating my cycle, my mood, my weight, sleep, all of it. My hair was falling out; my skin was a strange tint of yellow, and my eyes were red; it was odd… The good news was I was sober and had the grace and gumption to ask for help. I sought out the best doctor's advice, and to no avail, they returned with a stamp of A.I.D.S., which meant Auto Immune Disorder Syndrome. I was one of the first to be recognized with this syndrome. I needed more answers, I began to study everything, and this is when I discovered hormones, which then led me to my DNA!
Have you ever wondered what your genes say about you? I do and have always questioned this! I stumbled upon SelfDecode several years back when they first began their journey into this wild wild west DNA health field. They are dedicated to uncovering your genetic predispositions and providing lifestyle recommendations to optimize your health and wellness. My entire life changed due to my understanding of my DNA, and yours can too!
But how does it work? Well, that's where the science of DNA analysis comes in!
What is DNA?
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acids, are the building blocks of our genetic material. Although only composed of 4 nucleotides (A/C/G/T), these little guys encode all of the functions that make us who we are. Like my likeness to be introverted, yep, that’s the truth, and I have an increased capacity to remember things, yep, truth again!
Our cells carry precious information, and they know it. DNA is stored in the central organelle of our cells, known as the nucleus. It’s a tight squeeze in there; in fact, if our DNA from a single cell were to be laid flat, it would stretch about 5 feet!
All of that genetic material has to be stored in a space about 6 microns in diameter, which is about one-twentieth as wide as a strand of hair. This is done by some pretty smart packaging into coiled structures called chromosomes. In total, we have 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs.
We, humans, inherit our unique genetic code from our parents: half from our mother and half from our father. The genes we receive determine traits like our eye color, hair color, how tall we will become and even personality traits - hello, enneagram 4!
Encoded traits that our parents pass on to us are a roadmap to the types of proteins we produce and the possible predispositions to disorders common within the family. I’ll come back this a little later.
How does DNA analysis work:
In 1990, a group of researchers set out to accomplish something that no one had ever thought possible, discovering the complete blueprint design for Homo sapiens (us, humans). The project was termed The Human Genome Project (HGP) and was completed in 2003 [R].
For the first time, we could determine the entire genome that makes us...us.
Everyone, as a part of the human race has mostly the same genetic code. Isn’t that a little creepy? What makes us a diverse society are the small changes in our code that allow for varying traits.
These small variations in the genetic code are called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). This means that one nucleotide in the genome sequence is exchanged, leading to a different expression of your genes. This is where it gets really interesting and what I love most about sharing with my clients when we analyze their genes! Here is an example:
As I mentioned before, you inherit your DNA sequence from your parents. Let’s say your mother has brown eyes while your father has blue eyes. There are sequences in your DNA that determine which eye color will prevail in you, called phenotype. One phenotype is usually dominant while the other is recessive. If a dominant phenotype is present, it will usually be represented over the recessive counterpart.
In this example, brown eyes are usually dominant over blue, so it is likely that you will be born with brown eyes. The only exception is if there are recessive genes in your mother’s family tree. You can carry the recessive gene but still present with the dominant phenotype - called “heterozygous.” The only way you can inherit your father’s blue eyes is if you receive a recessive gene from both parents - called “homozygous recessive”. (That’s Me!)
These small variations in genes for eye color can determine what eye color you will actually have. This is a VERY oversimplified explanation, and most of my clients have me at their side to go over this all with – but basically, SNPs can influence your genes.
The question: how do I determine what variations I have in my genetic code?
The answer lies in DNA analysis. It’s simple when you know how to approach it.
Every cell in your body contains the same copy of DNA, so retrieving the sample is quite simple. The most common types of DNA collection are from your blood, skin cells or saliva. For example, SelfDecode just needs a bit of your saliva to get all the important information - no needles!
After the lab receives your DNA sample, they remove all the stuff we don't want (everything but the DNA) in a process called DNA purification. After they have the good stuff, DNA analysis can be performed to identify SNPs in your unique genetic code that can explain traits and predispositions towards diseases.
How does DNA influence your health:
Once you receive your DNA analysis results, how in the world do you interpret them?
Luckily, SelfDecode does the grunt work for you. They utilize over 60 MDs, Ph.D.s and NDs to comb through scientific literature and your genetic code to identify SNPs that influence your health, both physically and mentally.
Some SNPs, like eye color, are benign and don't carry significant weight on our health outcomes. On the other hand, other SNPs can have noticeable effects and lead to suboptimal health.
Examples of variants:
For example, gastrointestinal disorders disrupt many people from living a normal life. Crohn's and ulcerative colitis in particular, are gastrointestinal diseases that are due to an improper inflammatory reaction in the gut. A variation in a gene that helps with the autophagy of gut cells has been linked to gastrointestinal disorders [R]. Autophagy is the proper removal of defective cells from the body, failure to do so can lead to bacterial build-up and an inflammatory response [R]. Variations in ATG16L1 (rs2241880 and rs10210302) that are caused by an exchange in one nucleotide lead to an over abundance of GI Paneth cells and increased inflammation.
As we know, heart disease is one of the leading killers in the western world today. Both hereditary and lifestyle factors can put you at risk for developing heart disease; let’s explore how your genes can predispose you. One of the gene variations that SelfDecode analyzes is PON1 (paraoxonase 1), an enzyme that aids in clearing fat and detoxifying your bloodstream [R,R]. Two SNPs (rs662 and rs854560) can influence the risk of fat build up in your arteries and your overall cardiovascular health outcomes [R].
Understanding your genetic code and how it influences your health is a self-discovery process. SelfDecode can help you identify SNPs and take lifestyle steps to optimize your inherited genetic deck. You can get started easily here! Genes are the general roadmap to your health, but that does not mean that they are absolute - lifestyle interplays with genetics to determine your overall wellness.
One easy way to use SelfDecode is through their Specialized Wellness Reports:
SelfDecode makes the process of DNA analysis easy by condensing the material down into categorized reports, complete with actionable steps to cater to your needs. They provide you with attainable lifestyle modifications that interplay with your genetics to optimize your overall health.
SelfDecode has a variety of wellness reports to give you valuable insight into your genetic makeup and why you have certain tendencies - Get started decoding your health now.
Amazing options for reports:
If you are interested in your mental health, you can check out SelfDecode’s reports on anxiety, mood, and stress. (This is where I begin with most of my clients.) Unlike other DNA companies that only look at a couple of variants, SelfDecode’s scientists dig through over 800,000 genetic variants in the Anxiety report alone to give you a comprehensive picture of your mental well-being.
Physical fitness is an in-demand topic in the health and wellness field. But did you know it can be influenced by your genes? SelfDecode’s Weight DNA Report takes a deep dive into the literature and investigates over 455,000 genetic variants linked to weight management! One gene, in particular, is more well known than others - FTO. It has been associated with increased eating and undesirable food cravings [R,R]. SelfDecode also offers DNA reports on other topics that can help you stay in top shape, like joint pain and heart health. Find out more about how you can modify your lifestyle habits to give you the tools to combat a genetic uphill battle.
Gastrointestinal distress is common. SelfDecode has a comprehensive Irritable Bowel DNA Report that analyzes over 390,000 variants to determine your risk for experiencing irritable bowel symptoms. It is estimated that genetic factors comprise about 60% of the determinants of what type of IBS you have [R]. An example of a possible genetic variation that can influence your gut health is within the gene HTR3E (5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 3E), which can promote nausea, diarrhea and vomiting [,R]. In fact, many medications work to improve IBS symptoms by inhibiting this gene from being expressed. There is no cure for IBS, but you can learn how to manage your symptoms.
How are all of these personalized reports possible? Well, SelfDecode is the ONLY company that’s using AI in genomics to give you the most accurate and science-backed results! By using something called genetic imputation, they can analyze up to 83 million variants from a typical DNA file!
SelfDecode doesn't just analyze your genetic code to pinpoint variations that can make you susceptible to certain ailments. They go a step further by outlining evidence-based diet, supplement, and lifestyle recommendations that are tailored to work best with your unique genetic makeup, potentially reducing your risk of developing disorders. For example, if you had a genetic variant in RGS2, you may be more likely to experience anxiety symptoms, so increasing vitamin D and fiber intake may be beneficial [R].
Now I know what you're thinking: Will SelfDecode break the bank? The answer will make your wallet happy. Their prices are competitive with other competitors, and they give you abundantly more. The subscription service with DNA reports starts at under $100 a year! Check out membership options here!
I realize you can't put a price tag on your health, and SelfDecode is ready to help you achieve your optimal wellness goals by taking advantage of your unique genetic makeup, at such a crazy low price.
Understanding my DNA profile has changed how I live, and as I face and move into the second half of my life, I pay attention to the genes that may affect my cognition, mobility, and memory! I love this so much. If you’re a GENX woman struggling to find answers about your health, mood, sleep, or so much more, this may be the next part of your journey. And the good news for you is I’m here to help if you don’t want to go it alone.
Written by Lane Kennedy
Link to original blog: https://lanekennedy.com/connected-calm-life-blog/secret-to-aging-dna