Why You Need To Run A Genetic Test
Why run a genetic test?
You may have heard of genetic testing by now, but why do it? Isn't it just for ancestry purposes? What is its significance? Is it a novelty for heritage or truly significant?
"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." -Henry Ford
The reality is at some level, genetic testing is not unlike the quasi-Prometheusian concept of Henry Ford bringing the automobile to the middle class-just because you haven't used the technology before doesn't mean it doesn't have serious usefulness.
To some extent, genetic testing is the future of health...and the future is now.
DNA testing is projected to be a roughly 25 billion dollar industry by 2020. In fact, I project that within our lifetime, there will be a day where likely everyone will take a genetic test at birth for informed health planning.
Before we take a look at a brief primer into why you should consider taking a genetic test, the following concepts are worth knowing:
-Genomics: The study of errors that transpire when DNA repair replaces a nucleotide base pair with another-this is commonly referred to as a genetic variant, or SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism). When they alter how a gene is expressed, they impact various biochemical pathways and consequently change how our bodies function.
-Epigenetics: Epigenetics is the study of what turns our own genes 'on and off'. While genetic predispositions and DNA remain constants, various occurrences in both external (i.e. diet, exercise, toxic load, etc.) and internal (i.e. stress, perception, emotions, etc.) act as triggers for changes in the signaling of your genes. These changes generally are designed to help with survival. They have the ability to alter (for better or worse) long-term health of a person and their children.
In other words, your genetics load the gun-epigenetics pulls the trigger.
So let's take a look a few reasons why you should consider taking a genetic test, in no order:
- Ancestry: This is the most common reason the general public is already interested in genetic testing. Using private, convenient home kits can tell you where your bloodline is from and even enable you to connect with DNA relatives.
- You've Been Diagnosed With a Chronic Health Condition: Access to your genetic predispositions can help determine which genes or biochemical pathways are the underlying weaknesses that opened you up to be susceptible to that health condition in the first place. In other words, this is the seed and your health choices and environment are the fertilizer. In some cases, this may provide a missing link to vital causal information of certain health issues, which may have gone misdiagnosed or not diagnosed in the first place. Getting to the underlying root cause of health issues can help facilitate recovery by tailoring any treatment plans and lifestyle changes specifically to your unique body.
- Multiple Members of Your Family Have One or More Health Issues: Having genetic information can help your family uncover inherited gene sequence patterns that contribute to the chronic ailments plaguing them. Think, "condition X,Y, Z runs in my family."
- You've Been Prescribed a Medicine or Supplement: Certain genetic mutations can encode whether a prescription or supplement is suited for your physiology. This is known as pharmacogenomics.
- You or Your Child are Adopted: Simply put, in the absence of medical texts or health testimonies, genetic information can help adopted persons map out their familial health history.
- Preconception Planning: If you're planning on having a child, some genes have been implicated in the ability of a woman to conceive and foster a viable pregnancy.
- The Arrival of a New Baby: Awareness of underlying genetic specificities can help parents make the best, ultra-personalized health and lifestyle choices for their new children.
- Preventative, Personalized Medicine: Knowledge and proper analysis of your specific genetic makeup allows you to guide your health, lifestyle, and fitness decisions at an ultra-personal level. Lifestyle choices can include training, environmental decisions, and nutrition, stemming from nutrigenomics-the study and science of the interaction of our genes with nutrients.
- You Want to Understand Yourself: Whether it's figuring out why you've lived with certain health ailments, benefits, etc. your entire life, or even behavioral patterns, profound insights can be gained from our genetics. Many elements of who we are, including behavioral patterns such as addiction, energy, focus, eye contact, emotional processing, aggressive behavior, and even more can be gleaned from genetic analysis. This-like most of this list-is an entire rabbit hole of significant depth that can be delved into on its own.
If you're interested in running your own genetic test, please check out 23andme and order a kit. I recommend the ancestry-only kit, as you will receive the exact same raw data file that can be sent for proper analysis (like we do with Kosmic Animal or Noesfir). From here, you receive the convenient home test in the mail, deposit a saliva sample, and conveniently send back your pre-post-ready package. Wait a few weeks, and voila. From here, under the 'tools' section, you'll have the ability to download your raw genetic data, which can be sent off to a proper professional for analysis. More on that and, well-all of this...at another time.