DNA is a fascinating chemical composition that makes us who we are. It is a double-stranded collection of nucleotides connected containing the code for every physical and cognitive characteristic you have. Inside every cell of our body, DNA is located in the nucleus where it is protected by a phospholipid bilayer and ready to be expressed when protein synthesis began.
While you most likely heard about the importance of proteins and enzymes in keeping the cell alive, you should know that these proteins are the final result of DNA expression. The study of DNA expression is referred to as epigenetics.
In humans, there are approximately 20,000 genes that translate into hundreds of thousands of proteins using splicing methods. Preserving the integrity of DNA is crucial since genetic mutations can lead to several debilitating maladies, such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, and Tay-Sachs disease. Now that you are familiar with the basics of DNA, we will discuss the concept of DNA testing, as well as its benefits.
What is DNA Testing?
The process of DNA testing is relatively new to the scientific community; however, it is a promising technique that carries enormous potential. After receiving a sample from your body tissue (e.g., hair), technicians will isolate the DNA, using chemical reactions. The next step would be the sequencing of DNA, which allows us to read your genetic material and compare it to an extensive database.
As we mentioned earlier, this process was exclusively done to identify genetic abnormalities and confirm the diagnosis of rare diseases. However, DNA testing has evolved since then, and many companies offer their services to test patients' DNA in order to provide them with helpful tips about diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits to optimize their health.
If you think about it, there is no better way to tell you what you are doing right or wrong than your own genetic code.
How can DNA Testing Optimize Your Health?
DNA Testing and Your Exercise
At first glance, the relationship between your DNA and the food you eat might seem vague. However, DNA is what makes you who you are; so, it makes sense that not all digestive systems handle food the same way. For instance, the way we metabolize food is different from one person to another, depending on their basal metabolic rate (BMR). Moreover, the ratio of macronutrients (e.g., carbohydrates, fat, protein) that make us the healthiest is individually based.
When you send a tissue sample to the laboratories that provide this service, you should expect to get a personalized ratio of macronutrient intake that optimizes your health status.
DNA Testing and Your Exercise
Have you ever wondered why Usain Bolt was able to break every record in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and four × 100 meters relay? The answer is: genetics. No one would question the talent of Usain Bolt as a professional sprinter; however, some of Bolt’s overwhelming abilities were due to the ratio of his muscle fibers.
In a classic 2013 analysis top 3 sprinters in the worlds, scientists state that “The influence of Usain Bolt’s biological attributes (body height and body mass) on the stride length and stride frequency would be a simplified explanation for his superiority and elements that significantly distinguish him from rest of the finalists. With regard to the body build, type of muscles (dominated by fast-twitch muscle fibers), and training program, there must be some variables which distinguish Bolt from the rest of current world sprinters.”
Using this information, you can see that DNA testing can provide you with valuable information about your physical abilities to optimize them for workout routines and professional competitions. If used correctly, this technique can even analyze your body type and deduce the most efficient sports that meet your physical characteristics.
DNA Testing Procedures
The procedure of DNA testing has never been more straightforward! All you have to do is provide a body sample, which can be blood, hair, urine, or saliva. After that, the company takes the sample to its labs, where the best geneticists and DNA experts work around the clock to decipher the codes of every DNA sample they receive. Once the genetic code is isolated from the sample, the double-stranded DNA will be split, using high temperatures. The next step would be to use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to duplicate the DNA sample in order to compare it to the database.
Once the sequencing and screening for genetic diseases are over, the experts will analyze the code to find any helpful tips about your diet, physical activity, and cognition. The analysis results and practical tips will get printed, and you will receive the complete report of your DNA testing. As you can see, this process is complex and involves several high-tech pieces of machinery to perform the testing accurately. Fortunately, your role in this equation is limited since all you have to do is give a tissue sample and wait for the results.
How Accurate is DNA Testing?
While scientists are somewhat comfortable with DNA testing, the use of this technique to determine the type of food you should be eating is a novel procedure; thus, the sensitivity and specificity of the process are still a topic of controversy. The most significant value remains that DNA testing provides a quick and inexpensive means of uncovering issues that could be impacting a person's health that can be validated, if necessary, by other testing methods.
DNA testing has revolutionized the fields of healthcare and nutrition, as it provides essential information for people to optimize their health. Hopefully, you have a better idea about DNA testing and what health benefits to expect from it. However, if you still have any questions, feel free to send your questions to email@example.com.
About the Author: Dr. Jon Dessel, Ph.D., is an Integrative Health Practitioner and nutritionist. He is the President of Luminary Health Centers, a company dedicated to providing personalized, actionable, science-driven information to help others live a healthy, revitalizing lifestyle. Jon's whole-person approach to optimal health continues to push the envelope of health optimization and quality of life bridging the gap between science and well-being.