Do you wonder why you can’t seem to lose weight, even after trying countless diet and fitness plans? Do you find yourself worrying about your heart health or thinking about how your body will hold up as you get older? The human body is an amazing machine that’s also quite complex, and it can be tricky to figure out how it all works. Fortunately, there is an instruction manual that can give you the information you need to make smart choices when it comes to your health and wellness. This manual is also readily available; in fact, it’s actually a part of you. It’s in your genes.
Your DNA can tell you so much about your body, thanks to genetic health tests. Whether you take the test at home or at your physician’s office, the resulting information can be used to develop a comprehensive wellness plan based on data that is tailored especially for you because it’s based on your unique genetic profile. As the technology and the science behind genetic testing have advanced in recent years, the scope of the tests has also broadened—today, you can learn about nutrition, disease risk, response to medications, and much more. Here are some of the things your DNA can tell you about your health.
Here are 10 Things Your DNA Can Tell You About Your Health
- An Optimal Diet
There is a lot of different information out there about the best way to eat a healthy diet—and that’s not even counting fad diets that aren’t necessarily the most nutritious, but claim they can help you shed pounds. Low carb, no carb, no fat, no grain? It can be confusing to decide on an eating plan, to say the least. DNA testing can help you cut through the clutter with solid, actionable information, such as the optimal ratio of protein, carbs and healthy fats for your genetics. It’s a way to eat that’s not only sensible, but also sustainable over the long term because you know your body will respond well to a genetic-based diet.
- Risk for Heart Problems
Heart health is paramount when it comes to overall wellness. There are many issues, such as high blood pressure or coronary artery disease, that have a genetic component. If you can learn through genetic testing that you have a tendency towards high cholesterol levels, for instance, that can lead you to make actionable changes in your lifestyle—you may adopt a heart-healthy diet, exercise more or quit smoking. Genetic testing is an ideal way to learn more about your cardiac health.
- Healthy Weight Management
You go on a diet, drop 10 pounds, stop dieting and gain back the 10 pounds (and then some for some of us). This yo-yo dieting cycle can be demoralizing, not to mention bad for your health. But you can achieve lasting weight loss when you ditch the fad diets in favor of healthy eating, which a DNA test can help you discover. Your genetics can also play a role in weight loss when they are analyzed for variants regarding certain eating behaviors such as snacking and giving into food cravings. Knowing you have an inherent propensity for sweet snacks can help you plan healthier substitutions, whether it’s swapping potato chips for kale chips, or taking a walk when you feel you need a sugar rush in the afternoon.
- An Ideal Fitness Plan
If you are sweating through a run without the results to show for it, that kind of workout may not be the best fit for your body. Certain kinds of genetic health tests can analyze variants that play a role in how your body responds to endurance or strength training. You can also learn more about how exercise affects things such as your cholesterol, body fat levels and blood pressure.
- Effective Mental Health Medical Treatment
Mental health is just as important as your physical health. Using DNA analysis, you can learn more about how your body will potentially respond to common psychiatric medications. This can make all the difference in treatment for mental health disorders, eliminating the need to test out different medications to find the dose and the type of drug that will work best. Knowing your genetic makeup may also help you avoid negative side effects from taking medications.
- Sun Sensitivity for Skin
It’s a good rule of thumb to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays emitted by the sun, and DNA testing can give you more information on how susceptible your skin may be to photoaging damage, including any predispositions to sun spots, freckles, wrinkles and collagen degradation. This information can help you select products to better protect the appearance of your skin and make lifestyle changes such as staying indoors during peak daytime hours or covering up with sun-protective clothing when outdoors.
- Hereditary Cancer Risk
Cancer is a frightening prospect, and anyone who has relatives with the disease may be wondering what the likelihood is that they would get it, too. Knowing if you have a genetic predisposition towards cancer can be life changing for you and your family—it can also be empowering, because you and your physician can then talk about any preventive measures or screenings you should undergo. DNA tests are especially helpful when it comes to analyzing your potential for hereditary breast or colorectal cancer.
- Nutritional Deficiencies
Vitamins and nutrients are vital for a healthy body but how do you know which ones your body needs? A DNA analysis can assess any potential nutritional deficiencies you should address. Key nutrients to look for when it comes to genetic health testing are folate and vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, C, D and E. This type of testing provides actionable results you can use to modify your diet for optimal nutritional value.
- Osteoarthritis Risk
That popping sound you hear in your knee as you climb the stairs could be caused by normal joint movement—or it may be a sign of early wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, and there is an inherited risk factor for the condition. If your DNA test shows you may be likely to suffer from this condition as you age, you can take early preventive measures to ward off the pain and stiffness that are hallmarks of osteoarthritis.
- Gluten Sensitivity
Gluten-free isn’t just a dietary trend—gluten sensitivity can cause problems such as bloating, fatigue and stomach pain. It’s also important to know if you have gluten sensitivity because while this protein is commonly found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, it’s in a variety of foods aside from the usual bread and cereals, and it can even be found in other things such as supplements. DNA testing can analyze your genetic propensity for a gluten sensitivity.