Health Secrets Locked In Your DNA

Could the secret to being fit and losing weight be locked in your DNA?

More and more companies are offering at-home testing kits to shed light on your genetic makeup and which foods and exercises might be best for you.

"What genetic tests allow us to do is go beyond just the blanket statements, 'don’t eat junk food, drink lots of water, sleep,'" said Betty Murray, nutritionist and functional medicine practitioner at Living Well Dallas.

More than 26 million people have tried at-home DNA to learn more about themselves and their histories, but now, consumer labs are tapping into how they can use this information to live their healthiest lives.

Many use a swap of saliva to produce a panel of a person's genetic makeup and how those genetics may play a role in how a person metabolizes macronutrients and vitamins.  

"Why is it that my friend can eat french fries and a hamburger and lose weight and I glance at it and I gain weight? Having your genetics is a great way to at least know, 'okay, maybe I am someone that doesn't have the same freedom my best friend does, but there are other things that are in those genetics that do give me some advantages," said Murray.

"There are different gene combinations that encode for someone being better at digesting and utilizing a Mediterranean diet," said Murray, "where as somebody else may actually be a really good fat burner, so they may be able to get away with more red meat and saturated fats."

"There are a couple genes that encode how your muscles function, like, are you a better endurance athlete or are you a better sprinter or weight lifter?"

Connie Sperry said she turned for answers in her DNA after trying a number of doctors and diets to lose weight and feel better.

"I'm doing every diet known to man.  I'm living with a competitive body builder. I know what I should be eating. I know what I should be doing for workouts. I'm in the gym six days a week. I'm following a competition prep diet and I'm not losing weight," said Sperry.

When the popular keto diet, said to drop blood sugar levels and shed pounds didn't work, she went to a nutritionist and learned after genetic testing, the problem wasn't in her kitchen. It was in her DNA.

Because of her genetics, too much protein spikes her insulin which keeps her from losing weight. Her genetics also keep her body from absorbing enough vitamin B12 from her food. 

"What we found out was, without that nutritional support I am always going to be inflamed. When you're inflamed, you can't lose weight. The typical diets won't work."

She switched to an almost all vegan diet, low in protein and over the course of two years, it helped her lose 40 pounds, lower her cholesterol and rid her of pre-diabetes.

Murray said the disadvantages to the nutritional DNA kits include the obvious privacy concerns that have plagued consumer at-home genetic testing kits since the beginning. 

The kits can cost hundreds of dollars and then there's the question of what to do, once you get your results. 

She recommends labs that do genetic SNP testing,  which looks for gene mutations, and labs that offer guidance from a doctor or nutritionist to help you with your results.

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