Genetics and Wellness
We all aim for good health but a healthy lifestyle with balanced nutrition and exercise is not always easy to reach or maintain. Some people seem to keep a healthy weight without any effort. Some try to gain weight, but don’t succeed, while still others try to lose weight and are equally unsuccessful. Some people show a rapid progress in athletic performance, whereas others try and try again but don’t advance.
Part of the explanation are differences in food, environment and effort, another part is ‘talent’. “Inborn talent” for power sports or endurance sports, but also “talent” to become overweight, to store and burn fat, to develop diabetes, to suffer from allergies, to easily build muscle mass etc. The once elusive concept of talent or, more accurately, the predispositions of our bodies, is slowly revealing its secrets thanks to the recent advances in genetics. To a large extent our predispositions are rooted in our genes.
More insights in our genetic makeup can greatly help us to maintain a good health and to achieve our goals more effectively. The factors such as lifestyle, nutrition, environment and physical effort do not lose any of their significance, but our genes can tell us what nutrients work are likely to work or not work for us, and what forms of and amounts of exercise are most compatible with our bodies. One-size-fits-all diets and exercise plans unfortunately do not work because people are all different.
Genetic testing uses laboratory methods to look at your genes. Direct to customer (DTC) non- medical lifestyle genetic testing is not focused on disease risk but provides information about the potential of one’s athletic abilities, metabolism, and/or susceptibility to allergies.
WellStyle introduces two types of non- medical lifestyle genetic tests developed by Sports Gene and performed in the laboratory of the University of Tartu, in Estonia: one to determine athletic abilities and one for weight management.
The test is easy to take, affordable and needs to be taken only once in a lifetime. The results are ready within a couple of weeks and presented in combination with personal consultancy. The laboratory uses the DNA material exclusively for performing tests and will destroy it after 6 months. The non- medical genetic tests are only directed at improving one’s lifestyle.
Read more: What are non- medical lifestyle genetic tests?
Non- medical lifestyle genetic tests are used to identify the gene changes that may show a person’s predispositions related to athletic performance and diet. The information is useful for taking decisions about person’s lifestyle.
What are the genes?
Each human cell (except for eggs, sperm and red blood cells) contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, a thread- like structures with chemical hereditary material deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA that makes up the human genome containing approximately up to 25,000 genes. In each pair one chromosome inherited from the mother and one from the father in total of 46 in its cell core called nucleus.
A chromosome is a staircase- shaped spiral DNA double helix, built from blocks labelled A (adenine), T (thymine), C (cytosine) and G (guanine) and collectively called nucleotides. Two connected strands of the helix are complementary to each other. The information contained in the DNA is in the form of a chemical code, called the genetic code. Genes are the coding regions of DNA and act as subunits with particular set of instructions to produce protein which is needed to provide the body’s main building materials, forming the cell’s architecture and structural components. Every person has two copies of each gene, one inherited from each parent. A gene has two alleles, the forms of the same gene with small differences in their sequence of DNA. For a particular gene, the allele inherited from your mother may be the same as the one inherited from your father, or they may be different. This results in three possible outcomes (both of type 1, both of type 2, or one of type 1 and one of type 2), which corresponds with the three possible test scores: high, low and medium.
What are the genetic variations?
Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) are DNA sequence variations occurring upon difference of a single nucleotide – A, T, C or G – in the genome. Genetic variations in DNA sequence are responsible for common small differences between people such as eye and hair colour, blood type and body shape. Almost all common SNPs have only two alleles.
While most of the genes are the same in all people, the small differences contribute to each person’s characteristic physical features. SNPs account for approximately 90% of the genetic differences between individuals. SNPs do not generally cause diseases, but they may show the person’s predisposition to certain problems and indicate the probability of developing health issues. The risk can depend on multiple factors in addition to an identified genetic change. These include lifestyle and environmental factors.
Medical Life Sciences News
U.S. National Library of Medicine
National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institute of General Medical Sciences