Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could test yourself, your child and your grandchildren with one test that would predict which diseases you would develop and would reveal the perfect diet and supplements optimal for your health? Wouldn’t it be nice to have one single therapy, like a medication, to change the predicted outcome of degenerative diseases to something more desirable? It’s possible with lifestyle planning that’s based on genetic testing results.
Enter the Genome Project
The human genome project began in 1990 and was completed in 2003. It was the world’s largest collaborative biological project. It aimed to identify and map all of the genes in the human genome and basically “crack the code” to disease. Many scientists, physicians and researchers were anticipating that this $3 billion project would reveal a code, similar to the binary code used by computers, to extract information and find patterns to predict diseases and identify appropriate treatments. The project began looking for single genes and mutations that would result in autism, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and more. The hope was that it would reveal exactly what genes created these disease processes so that we could predict who would develop what and then work to develop a single therapy, like a pharmaceutical that would treat it. The paradigm of thinking was: Your genes are your destiny.
An Unexpected Shift
As the scientific community began to delve deeper, and technology advanced the realization was that, unfortunately, the story was much more complex. Chronic disease did not have one single gene, there was no single autism gene, no single Parkinson’s gene, no single inflammation gene. The story had to shift from what particular genes do you have to what are your genes doing? This shift became much more powerful as we began to realize that you have control over what your genes are doing – over what turns your genes on or off.
With genetic testing we are now re-framing how we look at genes. Instead of focusing on one specific gene we perform large data analyses to look at a family of genes. We look at the individual, their environment, their lifestyle, their labs, and examine results that show how those factors are interacting. We are re-framing our outlook from the old paradigm of how are we going to die to how should we live our lives to the fullest extent? This paradigm shift takes us from a disease centered model to a model of health and wellness. So in short, what we have discovered is that the genes load the gun; the environment and lifestyle pull the trigger.
Genetic testing is helpful as a piece to the entire puzzle. It is not the be all end all as we had once hoped, however, it can provide some very beneficial information to allow us to become more precise in our recommendations.
The Key to a Deeper Understanding
Reviewing genetic data can provide us with a deeper understanding of essential metabolic pathways and where you may be experiencing roadblocks. It can help us
- figure out whether or not you may have side effects from certain medications,
- potentially understand how you are responding to therapies, and
- it can help you become more motivated and feel empowered to take action.
When it comes to genetic testing, there are a few different options that can be beneficial. Which option you choose depends on
- the desired information we are trying to obtain,
- the amount of money we are looking to spend, and
- the specific concerns related to specific conditions.
One of the most popular testing methods looks at different genes and the single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs (pronounced snips) present. You inherit these SNPs from your mother and father and they act as your personal code. To learn more information about what a SNP is check out the video linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJuENQsOus0
Using this genetic code and data analyzing software, a trained practitioner can analyze and interpret the information in context with your presenting signs, symptoms, goals and labs. It can help the practitioner determine your genetic predisposition to factors that create symptoms or diseases like inflammation; energy transport, immune system response, detoxification, methylation, ability to produce or utilize nutrients and more.
Pharmacogenetics: Fostering Treatment Success
One of the most beneficial ways to utilize genetic testing, in my opinion, is to have a test that looks at pharmacogenetics. This type of testing can help us determine, from a genetic perspective, what medications could be right and wrong for you and whether or not we should change the dosage for the desired effect. It’s common for patients to try various medications until they find what works. With the help of your genetic blueprint, you can take medications that have a higher potential of success. This can save you both time and money and can speed the time it takes for you to experience relief.
This is really the tip of the iceberg in where the current state of genomics resides. To learn more, view the video of the Gene-Based Health presentation held at Coastal. The presentation dived deeper into the details and answered questions like:
- What controls that on or off switch?
- What choices have you made that have had negative consequences?
- Positive consequences?
- Can consequences be reversed? Enhanced?
- How does your environment impact what your genes do?
- How does your lifestyle impact which genes are turned on and off?
- Can your thoughts impact your genes?
- What about your microbiome?
- How do your social interactions impact what your genes do?
It is our goal to provide further information and action steps on how to begin to be more precise with the changes you make in your life to experience health.