Power of Epigenetics: How to Use DNA Testing to Improve Your Life
When I created Genetic Garden with the slogan “DNA doesn’t tell your whole story” it was to inform the public of the potential, not prescriptive power, of testing your DNA. What would you do if your genes said, “you have the obesity gene”? Or stated that, “you are meant for endurance activity”? What about if they said, “you have a propensity for depression”? Would you take it to be fact, fairytale, or somewhere in between?
Your DNA contains your body’s potential, not it’s fate.
In a study that aimed to understand the impact of learning the information your genes have on your state of mind, researchers put people into 2 groups, had them both take a fake DNA test, and then asked them to interpret the results. The experimental group was told their DNA carried depressive genes. The control group was told that their DNA did not have any genes for depression. The groups were even educated on the idea that your genes don’t predict your future. The result? The group that was (falsely) told they had a propensity for depression recalled more depressive events within their past. Not only more events of depressive thoughts but also more extreme depressive symptoms. “Knowing” their genetic information lead them to falsify their past, alter their history, and reimagine their own thoughts!
What can you do with your DNA test results?
The power of genetic information is stunning. These days anyone can get his or her DNA analyzed, with direct-to-consumer testing so readily available. While I love this progress, what scares me is that the general public doesn’t have sufficient education to understand, interpret, and apply their results to their daily lives.
Often times I see consumers get results that say, “you have the obesity gene” and take this and their obesity for an infallible truth. We all know your genes do not solely predict your physiology, but how can this be true? Several studies have proven that with the introduction of daily physical activity, you can completely mitigate your genetic predisposition for obesity, even if you carry two sets of the obesity gene!! In the future I will do an in-depth post about the obesity gene and how to attenuate its effects through lifestyle intervention.
How Epigenetics can alter the role your genes play on your life.
So you’re starting to see that DNA doesn’t tell your whole story. Enter the field of epigenetics- where your environment (read: sleep, stress, diet, age, sex) can alter the way your genes work.
Let’s discuss the dangers of receiving your DNA test, finding out you are prone to endurance activity, then only exercising in that modality, while avoiding all other forms (i.e. weight lifting). One of my clients received her results from a DNA test that said she would excel in endurance-type activities. She thought that it made a lot of sense given that she was a high school track star. She also interpreted this to mean that she should avoid resistance training. Why do something that you aren’t meant to do? Why do something your genes say you won’t be good at? Because that is exactly what your body needs!
Let me explain: what the test results lack is proper information about the client. She was 63 years old and facing age-related muscle and bone loss. With these epigenetic inputs (read: age and sex), we now know that there isn’t anyone more suited or more in need of weight training to mitigate those losses and ensure healthy longevity.
Genetic Garden is here to fill the gap from your DNA test results to your daily application, while promoting the power of genetic knowledge in a healthy way. I paint a complete and comprehensive picture of each client before providing personal recommendations tailored to your goal. This is a very personal process, one that requires a relationship between each client and myself. Why? Because your DNA doesn’t tell your whole story, you do!
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Want to sign up? Genetic Garden can now offer the genetic test for $99 ($299 value) with purchase of one of my services. Learn more about how I can help you utilize your DNA results now!