Ever wondered why that friend of yours is as thin as a rake and can eat whatever they want, while you only have to look at a cake to gain a couple of pounds? There’s obviously loads of factors that could be at play but there’s a good chance that some of it is down to genetics.
I think I’ve mentioned before that in my dim and distant past I used to call myself a scientist. A biochemist with a keen interest in genetics and DNA no less.
We are all different and that’s mainly due to our DNA. There are the differences that we all see like eyes and hair colour, but then there are also differences in the way that we metabolise nutrients for example and the way we deal with toxins. We all know someone that can’t handle their alcohol well and others who can drink like fish. Again a lot of factors at play, but some of it will be down to genetics.
Nutrigenetics is the study of how genetic variation in individual genes affects how someone responds to particular nutrients and toxins in their diet. It’s a fascinating area of science. Imagine having an understanding of your own genetics such that you could make the very best nutritional choices for you. It would take so much of the guess work away!
So when I was recently contacted by a company called DNAFit and asked if I’d like to have a DNA test done which would help me find out what diet is best for me, based on my own DNA, I leapt at the chance. I’ve made a lot of changes to my diet in the last couple of years and I was fascinated to know whether the results of this test would back up my experience.
I was sent a DNA collection kit in the post in a shiny silver envelope. It consisted of a form to fill in, a small plastic tube and then the swab to collect my DNA. There were clear instructions in the kit of what I needed to do. Wipe the swab on the inside of my cheek, making sure that I was doing it firmly enough to get the swab nicely covered with my cheek cells. Then break off the swab into the tube, seal it up and label it and send it back. Pretty straightforward.
A few weeks later I was sent my results. A personalised report with a set of guidance notes to help me understand more about the results. I was also lucky enough to be offered a one to one consultation with Olympic athlete Andrew Steele who is part of the team at DNAFit. He talked me through my report and what it all meant.
The report is 25 pages long and goes into far more detail that I can cover in a blog post but the summary of it is shown below.
I have medium-high sensitivity to carbohydrate and for optimum weight management should stick to a low carbohydrate diet. This is exactly in line with what I’ve experienced since I’ve switched to a low carbohydrate, high protein diet. Andrew told me not to be scared of fats, including saturated fat. My profile indicates that these are not an issue for me in terms of weight management or general health.
The report goes through a number of different areas including my anti-oxidant need, Omega 3 need and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Based on these results Andrew gave me the following advice
- increase my selenium intake – selenium is important to help the body deal with free radicals. My test results indicate I have a reduced capacity for dealing with free radicals – 3 brazil nuts each night would have my selenium needs covered
- increase my Omega 3 intake – as an essential fatty acid I need to get this from my diet – I hate oily fish, which is a great source of Omega 3 so Andrew recommended some alternative sources such as flaxseeds or that I consider taking a supplement
- increase my Vitamin D intake – really important in calcium metabolism and bone health – it’s hard to get enough Vitamin D in the diet so this was one where he definitely recommended a supplement
There are a couple of other areas also covered by the report. Sensitivity to salt, alcohol and caffeine. As I suspected would be the case I metabolise caffeine quickly – meaning that I feel its effects in a short space of time. I also have moderate salt sensitivity which can cause high blood pressure so I’m advised to keep my salt intake down. And unfortunately I’m not one of those people who gets any health benefit from moderate consumption of alcohol. So I have no excuse!
Finally the report confirms that I am lactose tolerant and that I do not have any coeliac predisposition.
I found the report absolutely fascinating. It confirms a number of things which I already suspected but has also given me some pointers for small tweaks that I can make to my diet. I’m in the process of implementing the recommended changes and I’m interested to see whether I can feel any benefit from them. Watch this space!
I’m really impressed with the service I received from DNAFit and the quality of the report that was produced for me. There’s enough explanation for all the results that you don’t need to be a scientist to understand them at all and the recommendations are very clear.
The test that I had done is called DNA Fit Diet Professional and costs £199. They also offer a Lite version at £99 and a Premium version at £149. The Premium and Professional tests also include a 12 week eating plan based on your ideal diet, if that’s the sort of thing that appeals to you.
DNA Fit also offer DNA analysis for fitness. I’ve also had this test done and the results are just as fascinating as the diet analysis. I’ll talk more about those results in a separate post.
DNAFit were kind enough to carry out this test for me for free. All opinions are my own.