We already know the benefits of genetic testing here at Dr. Gala Health Coaching LLC and see that it’s the key to providing more personalized care for our clients. Did you know that your genes can give you such specific insights into how your body works that you’ll be able to tailor your diet and lifestyle choices around what’s best for your body?
However, many of us are still learning about the full range of benefits that genetic testing can provide and the real impact it can have on our lives — and our clients have a lot of questions, concerns, and curiosity as to what genetic testing is. The benefits it can deliver as well.
Here are a few common questions we encounter when it comes to genetic testing.
Q. “Aren’t my genes set in stone? If I can’t change anything, why get tested?”
A. It’s often assumed that we can’t change our genes — so why even try? The truth is that while we can’t change our DNA code, our gene expression is a bit of a different story. Our genes express themselves in different ways and affect how we interact with the world around us, but the world around us also affects how our genes express themselves. That means that the lifestyle and food choices we make can actually influence how our genes work. Our genes aren’t set in stone, and there’s a lot we can do to help them impact our health.
Q. “Isn’t genetic testing just used to determine my ancestry?”
A. Genetic testing has gained a lot of popularity in the past decade through ancestry companies that can test your DNA and track your family’s history. But genetic testing can be used for a lot more than seeing where you came from and can be used a lot more proactively as well. Genetic testing can tell you how your body functions, right down to the cellular level, and can help you understand how your body processes nutrients, how it metabolizes caffeine, how well it handles inflammation, and much more. It can help you look forward to a healthy future as well as backward to your ancestors.
Q. “Can’t my genetic test be shared? What if my employer finds out about my results?”
A. It’s a common concern to worry about whose hands your genetic test will fall into and if it’ll be used for malicious purposes. But HIPAA laws prevent practitioners from sharing information about a patient’s genetic test, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA, protects individuals from being discriminated against for what’s in that test. That means that your employer can’t make hiring or firing decisions, nor can your health insurance company restrict coverage based on a genetic test.
Q. “Is the science even advanced enough around genetic testing to make it applicable?”
A. Our knowledge of all areas of science is constantly evolving. The study of genetics has undoubtedly come a long way since DNA was first studied in the 1950s. Like any other science, our knowledge around genes, their expression, and how they impact health and functionality increases each day (trusted source). And like with any other science, we practice with what we have and expand our practice as our knowledge grows. We would never hold back the ability to help a client just because someone thinks the science “isn’t there yet”!
Q. “Isn’t genetic testing only really looking at one or two genes?”
A. While there may be some genes that are more popular or given more attention than others, genes can’t be looked at in isolation. What matters is how genes work together to create an overall picture of a person’s health and wellness. We like to say that knowing a person’s genes is like having a blueprint to how their system works. Just as you would never try to build a house with the plans for just one wall or floor, you wouldn’t just look at one or two genes in isolation.
Q. “Isn’t genetic testing just for genetic testing’s sake? Will I be able to use any of that information practically?”
A. Like the question above, a genetic test’s results don’t just stand alone. They can be used to make client care much more personalized, help determine better foods to eat, influence better lifestyle choices, lead to more targeted screening and testing, point the way towards the best supplements, and more. Genetic testing isn’t something to take in isolation but can be incorporated into the portfolio of healthcare approaches.
Q. “Isn’t genetic testing just used to predict the possibility that I have a specific disease?”
A. Genetic testing can certainly screen for specific genetic variants to determine if someone might be more predisposed to a disease — and many people use genetic testing in just that way. But like we’ve already seen, genetic testing can be used for much more, including informing lifestyle and food choices to address root causes of illness and disease before they even start. It’s essential to understand which genetic tests focus on food choices and lifestyle changes — what we call nutrigenetic tests — and medical genetic tests that look for rare genetic variants that may by themselves cause disease.
When Gloria came in, she had a lot of questions about genetic testing and if it was suitable for her. Gloria is one of our beloved clients; she is a 46 yo successful attorney, has two adult children, and was divorced two years ago. Gloria presented to our service complaining about more difficulty controlling her weight, lack of energy, joint pain, frequent mood changes, and inability to sleep well. Her doctor told her she was in perimenopause.
I recommended Gloria do the 3x4genetic test before deciding what our strategy will be, and these are the results:
Key pull outs before Gloria’s 3x4Genetic test: Weight has been a critical issue and ongoing struggle
- Tried numerous diets
- Busy lifestyle and highly stressful work environment
- Previous history of several injuries
High Impact Genes:
GSTM1 DELETION – Significantly impacts phase 2 detoxification and hormone metabolism
COL1A1 – Affects joint health and contributes to the potential for soft tissue injury and chronic joint pain
COMT GA – Impacts detoxification, hormone balance, and brain health
MTHFR CT – Impacts methylation, hormone balance, brain, and vascular health
TNFA GA – Impacts inflammation and contributes to chronic joint inflammation, insulin & glucose metabolism,
vascular health and pro-inflammatory fat
ACE DD – Impacts blood pressure, power exercise
TCN2 Pro259Arg C> – G Transcobalamin 2 A protein that transports vitamin B12. Associated with reduced levels of
B12 and impacts methylation cycle
CETP TaqIB G> – A Cholesterol ester transfer protein: Impacts lipoprotein transport and vascular health. Regulates reverse cholesterol transport by which cholesterol is removed from tissues for elimination.
Now we can put all the story together:
Gloria’s health issues and her lifestyle choices might be causing gene variations (a.k.a mutations), impacting cellular mechanisms such as detoxification, inflammation, and methylation.
Gloria’s 3×4 genetic test allowed us to identify the three metabolic pathways we should prioritize: inflammation, detoxification, collagen, and joint health.
We provided three dietary recommendations:
- Include foods that supply vital nutrients for phase 1 and phase 2 liver and methylation support, including sources of B-Vitamins, Sulforaphane, Glutathione, Taurine, Cysteine, and Methionine.
- Eat foods that modulate inflammation systems, including “polyphenols” in blueberries, dark chocolate, olives, and nuts.
- Ensure adequate intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals to support her glucose and insulin pathway as well as collagen and joint health. (Seafood, nuts, seeds, eggs, leafy greens, legumes, berries, sweet potatoes, pomegranates, and bone broths).
Three lifestyle recommendations:
- Practice exercises regularly that increase range of motion, improve strength, endurance, and balance. When increasing workout intensity, frequency, and duration, do so gradually.
- Avoid harmful microplastics, non-organic personal care, and cleaning products, pesticides, heavy metals, paint and glue, cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, and contraceptive use.
- Address sleep hygiene by ensuring 8 hours of sleep a night, reducing exposure to screens at night and early morning light exposure to support clock genes and cortisol balance.
Three targeted supplement recommendations:
- Active Sulforaphane as recommended by a healthcare practitioner, vitamin B6 (P5P), B2, B3, Magnesium, Selenium, Taurine, and Zinc to support liver health.
- Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators (SPM) with a healthcare practitioner supervision and 30mg Zinc, 200mcg Selenium, Curcumin, Boswellia. Quercetin and Luteolin to block mast cell activation.
- Hydrolyzed collagen for connective tissue as well as minerals: Chromium, Zinc, Magnesium, vitamin D3 (if needed).
- She lost more than 20k g over the first 6 months of treatment and is determined to lose some more.
- She experienced improvements in her mood, sleep, and energy levels.
- Follows a strict detoxification plan for 3-4 weeks, twice a year.
- Understand WHY Gloria battled with her weight
- Start with the root cause
- Focus on key pathways based on her blueprint and priority health goals.
The Biggest Question?
Genetic testing answers the biggest question most patients have in many ways: What can I do to get the best health based on how my body uniquely works? Today can be the day to find out.
Ready to start your personalized health journey?