by Paige Barclay
When I heard about DNA testing kits like 23andMe and MyHeritage, I assumed they were indulgences. That they could tell you something vague about your ancestors that might make you feel more cultured than you actually are. Anyway, I decided to take a look at them in more detail, so researched the best DNA kit and found that besides ancestry and heritage, there’s actually plenty to learn about your health in a holistic way.
How can DNA testing be good for your health? It’s more complicated than you think.
Learn About Genetic Conditions
The first and most obvious way DNA testing can be good for your health is that you can find out about genetic conditions. It may tell you about a predisposition to cancer, heart disease, or other illnesses. This way, you can be prepared to look out for symptoms and go for regular checks. Early diagnosis is one of the best ways to improve your chance of recovery. On the other hand, you can take measures to prevent an illness like diabetes and many others.
But that’s not the only way it can directly impact your health. Ancestry testing services have large databases, and when you send for your results, you can choose to allow them to put you in touch with relatives you may not have known existed.
For one thing, this can give you more information on illnesses members of your family have contracted over the years, and watch out for those as well. My father passed away from pancreatic cancer, but after getting in touch with relatives I met through DNA testing, I found out that relatives on my mother’s side have died of pancreatic cancer too. This is one particular type of cancer that you can only recover from if you catch it very early, and yet it’s asymptomatic until it’s already too late. Now I know to go for regular checkups to make sure there are no markers for it.
Having a solid family support system is also good for your health, and some of us aren’t as lucky as others to have grown up with extended family. Meeting new relatives, with whom you immediately have something in common, can open you up to a much larger family than you knew you had.
A Healthy Sense of Identity
Health isn’t all about physical wellbeing. In a holistic sense, health is also about knowing who you are. In today’s world, especially, identity has become a recurring theme. Who am I? Where do I fit into society?
DNA testing can give you a clearer sense of where you came from. This is particularly important for people who were adopted, or whose ancestors were stolen from their countries as slaves. Finding a greater sense of who your ancestors are can make you feel a lot more like you belong in this world. Otherwise, it can seem like everyone else has their place, but yours is a large blank.
Ancestry tests are the new normal, and provide a great opportunity to find out more about yourself, ensure your health, and find a greater sense of belonging.