Ever since I first learnt that DNA testing was offered through online testing in Australia, I have been fascinated to give it a go. It’s funny the way the universe works, as not long after I was introduced to MyDNA CEO, Dr Lior Rauchberger (through my involvement with the LifeChanger Foundation) and before I knew it my simple cheek swab was in the post and off for analysis.
Coming from an athletic background (and now having children of my own) – I have often wondered how much influence our genetics have on our fitness, diet, and long-term health predisposition. How much of my success was naturally passed on from my parents or was it all from sheer hard work? It appears a bit of both 😉
Our physical and athletic performance depends on several factors; such as, how efficiently your muscles contract and use energy, or how long and elastic your tendons are.
Over the last two decades, scientific research has provided increasing evidence that these factors are controlled by your DNA and are also affected by your lifestyle. This combination of your DNA and the experiences that you have throughout your life makes you unique.
The purpose of this type of DNA testing is to explain what some of the most important genes reveal about your unique fitness and exercise abilities. This information can empower you to choose the type of training that is likely to give you the best results to allow you to achieve your exercise and fitness goals. I know it’s certainly given me a lot of clarity.
My Fitness and Diet DNA Testing
It may not come as a surprise to many but my DNA fitness results showed that my aerobic fitness is naturally high and can be easily improved with training. I am prone to greater risk of injury and my recovery time after exercise came in as fairly standard. My muscles are best suited to slow and steady exercise (ah makes sense why I have to REALLY have work on speed) plus I’m more than likely to have to exercise more intensely than others to grow muscles and improve performance due to producing low amounts of ACTN3 protein.
Next, it was my DNA diet results. As you may know, the main predictor of your weight is the balance between the number of calories you consume and the calories you burn. This balance is controlled by a combination of your genes and your environment. Your genes control your weight from within, by influencing things like how fast you burn calories or the type of foods that you choose, or by affecting your appetite and your body fat distribution.
Environmental factors include your lifestyle and control your weight from outside, for example by making you more likely to eat too much or exercise too little.
For each person, the relative influence that genes and environment have on body weight is different. That is why it is so important to know your genetic background and to consider it alongside your lifestyle. This will help you understand the reasons for your weight and to be empowered to know what to do about it. This report included advice for the most appropriate diet for my gene variants.
My results showed a few red lights on my MTIF3 gene variation. This gene gives you a higher chance of having an increased body size (on the bright side, I’m most successful in maintaining weight loss over time.) Another area that I didn’t excel in was my ADIPOQ gene variation which showed a reduced amount of the fat burning hormone. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though with the FTO gene variation coming in as a green light which means I have not been associated with an increased appetite or a higher chance of obesity.
The recommendation for my diet was to eat a lower fat diet which is composed of 60% carbs, 20% protein and 20% healthy omega 3 rich fats. When you consider that nearly all vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole foods are forms of carbohydrate it makes sense that I was on the right track.
The just-released caffeine report which shows what effect caffeine has on my body, all these came through in the ‘majority’ category.
As myDNA progresses they are introducing more personalised tests, which is great news for everyone as I feel that it’s in everyone best interests to stop guessing what their doing wrong and put into practice what they can do right.
Lior from myDNA was kind enough to answer a few more questions for us
- DNA testing is the way of the future – who do you see benefits from having their DNA tested?
The research into DNA markers is growing exponentially worldwide. Everyone can benefit…the insights we can all gain about what this means to lead a more informed and personalised life
Our mission at myDNA is to help people make better health wellness and lifestyle decisions through access to their DNA profile
- What tests do you have in place and leading into the next 6 – 12 months
The diagram below shows the pipeline of personalised tests and reports we are planning to release. We have already released medication, diet, weight, fitness and caffeine tests and there is plenty more in the pipeline and this is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
- Are there ways we can be proactive in ‘re-writing’ our DNA? Do you have any examples?
Our understanding of the science of ‘re-writing’ our DNA is only starting the emerge and it is the fascinating field known as epigenetics. There are certainly many environmental factors that will be found to play a part in turning DNA on and off.
- What are the current ramifications of DNA testing? ie health and life insurances. What tests are you restricted in doing?
The testing that myDNA performs is NOT related to disease risk or disease susceptibility – as such these tests have no real relevance when it comes to health or life insurers.
Many other countries have put in legislation to stop insurers getting access to DNA test results and these laws will likely come in Australia
If someone is conducting a cancer of disease DNA test (again, something myDNA does not offer), then they should consult with their life insurers about the test if there are any concerns
- What is the testing procedure and costs?
The testing procedure is a simple cheek swab – refer diagram below for all the details
The costs vary between $50 and $100 depending on what test is ordered.
Even if you haven’t won the genetic lottery, when it comes to staying slim, there’s no need to give up hope. Because, although we can’t change our genes, we can change our habits. Even doing just 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day can decrease the effects of the FTO gene on weight gain by almost 30%. And if the gym’s not an option because you’re run off your feet looking after children or working long hours, making small lifestyle changes— particularly to your diet— might be enough to shed those extra kilos.
A myDNA test can help you to learn about your genes so that you can work smarter, not harder, to reach your goals. There’s no silver bullet for weight loss, but we’re also not slaves to our genes. A little self-knowledge plus a little self-determination can lead to a happier, healthier you