Does our DNA define us?

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Date: 30 July 2021

By: Jessica Pieterse

  • Reading time: 25 Mins

Genetic testing offers an extensive array of new opportunities in evaluating health outcomes and as a result, it has captivated the sciencitic community. This leaves us questioning if we should do genetic testing and how it can benefit us.

The basics of genetic testing

Your DNA (or genes) is the foundational blueprint of who you are. Your DNA codes for your hair colour, your height,  and even the shape of your ears. DNA codes for what you can physically see as well as what you can not see. Your DNA will also determine how your body processes certain nutrients, how it makes hormones as well as how several metabolic processes are happening in your body.

What can your genes tell you?

Genetic reports are able to give unique personalised information on the best way for a specific individual to lose weight, maintain good health and decrease the risk of certain disease conditions. Genetic tests can supply a vast amount of information. The following are examples of what genetic tests could indicate:

    • –What style of diet best promotes weight loss.
    • –What genetic barriers you may have for weight loss.
    • –If you need more of certain nutrients.
    • –Areas where there may increased risk of diseases or impaired functioning such as heart health, bone health, insulin control, detoxifying of waste products by the liver, blood pressure control, cancer risks etc.
    • –How your body processes compounds like oestrogen (female hormone).
    • –And more.

I can’t change my DNA, so why test it?

You can’t change what DNA you have but you can change how it functions. Think of it like this. Your genes loads the gun but your lifestyle pulls the trigger. Testing your genetics is helpful as you can determine where you have ‘loaded guns’ or points of concern. A loaded gun is potentially dangerous but it is only deadly when you pull the trigger. Lifestyle choices pulls that trigger. If you improve your diet and lifestyle, you will prevent a ‘gun from triggering’ and decrease risks for disease.

Where does genetic testing fit in to my existing care?

Genetic testing provides a unique insight on health,diet and physical activity optimization. This does not mean that other interventions are no longer needed, it merely means that it is now more personalised. There is more individualised information to help you be the best health version of yourself.

For more information on genetic testing for weight management and disease risk, contact Jessica Pieterse, registered dietitian at Willow Worx Edenvale.

References:

PEN: Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition – Nutrigenomics Background

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