We all know that while healthy eating and regular exercise are vital to our long-term health and fitness, we also know that our genetics will determine how successful we are at achieving our goals. Different genes can make us feel hungrier, grow muscle faster or make our immune systems stronger. Some people are now testing their DNA to give insights into their health and fitness. So, how does this work, and is it effective?
The Rise of DNA Testing Kits
Record numbers of DNA test kits are being sold, proof that people are starting to take their genetics more seriously. Home DNA testing all started around 2006 when 23andMe created affordable genetic test and analysis kits. Over the last decade home DNA kits have improved, and in 2017, several companies got the final stamp in the form of an FDA approval to provide health risk reports to users after the FDA approved the accuracy of these tests.
How Does The Test Work?
Your home DNA test kit does not include any syringes – they are simple and safe to use. You just take a swipe from your cheeks, or spit into a tube, and ship it over to the company whose kit you bought. Within 6-8 weeks you should get get your report back. That report’s data and analysis will depend on the package you have opted for – some people will use these tests for ancestry purposes (family tree) and others will focus on the health aspect.
DNA Health Reports
The health report will teach you more about the “building bricks” of your body. The first important piece of information is inherited health risks from cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, muscular dystrophy and more. Knowing about these genetic risks to your health is usually enough to encourage people to make lifestyle adjustments to help ward off problems. For example, if you are prone to developing early age Alzheimer’s you could be begin a workout regime and work on your memory – that way, the disease is likely to develop less violently if it will ever develop.
Also available are wellness reports that relate to your natural traits. These include how prone you are to addictions, what is your genetic neutral weight, how many hours should you be sleeping every night, etc. Many people need more sleep and do not realise how this affects their health and weight.
Some tests also offer a report that indicates which disease you are genetically carrying and can be passed to your children. Doing a test like this together with your spouse can prove very efficient.
More advanced DNA tests claim to be able to offer advice on getting optimal nutrition by detailing your optimal diet and macronutrient response to different foods, as well as listing personalised nutrient needs, food sensitivities and intolerance.
Also possible with some tests are details of optimal exercise response and injury recovery, which can help develop bespoke fitness training plans to optimise sports performance.
Will a Genetic Test Change My Life?
Maybe! If you discover something out-of-the-ordinary about yourself it may be enough to push you towards a positive lifestyle change – a test could literally save your life. However, it is unlikely a genetic home test will make a significant change in your life, and it shouldn’t, in all honesty.
Genetic tests are just another tool that technology offers to us to get a better understanding of ourselves. There are similar tests like microbiome, which may actually sometimes contradict advice from DNA testings.
The technology of neither isn’t ripe enough yet to give you definite conclusions and recommendations. With that being said, with the amount of money and energy we are putting into nurturing our bodies there’s no reason not to conduct a genetic test and learn a little more about ourselves.