There’s a good chance that you’ve heard about DNA testing. Many different companies offer to test your DNA to discover your genealogy and your genetic predispositions for certain traits. A DNA test itself will have little effect on the body: all you do is spit into a tube until you’ve gathered enough saliva. But the results might change the way you think about your health.
In addition to information about your ancestry, DNA tests will give you information about your medical predispositions. You’ll be told whether any foods affect you differently from the general population, what types of exercise are most effective for your body type, and whether there are any genetic conditions you should be on the lookout for.
DNA Testing and Weight Loss
The information gathered through your DNA depends largely on the company that you use to process your DNA test. Some companies will find information about genes that affect your endurance, metabolism, muscle mass, and fat burning ability. If you find yourself unable to lose weight despite frequent exercise and healthy diet choices, these genetic categories might have answers to your frustration.
The idea behind genetic testing is that you can learn more about the way your body processes the world around you. This can mean everything from the way your metabolism burns energy to the way your brain interprets sensory stimuli. Once you understand how your body works, and how it’s different from those of other people, you can make effective changes to your lifestyle.
In addition to telling you what types of exercise will benefit you most, genetic testing may also be able to tell you if you’re genetically predisposed to obesity. If you have genes that increase your likelihood of overeating, this will be reflected in the report as well.
What Exactly Is a Gene?
You inherit a combination of DNA from your mother and your father. Which DNA strands you inherit is, for the most part, a matter of random chance. This is why you’re different from your siblings, even if you share some base qualities with them.
Your unique combination of maternal and paternal traits creates a chemical blueprint, which scientists refer to as DNA. Every individual person has more than twenty thousand genes, all encoded into the DNA strands. Every gene has instructions for one protein, which controls one aspect of the body. You might have a gene for brown eyes or for curly hair. You might have a gene for fat retention or increased metabolism.
All of these genes work together to make your body. Because everyone has a different genetic blueprint (unless you have an identical twin), everyone’s ideal lifestyle will be slightly different. This is why some people can eat the exact same things and be affected in severely different ways.
DNA Testing for Genetic Issues
We’ve already established that DNA testing can tell you about your physical makeup and metabolism. But you can also test for genetic conditions and diseases. Cystic fibrosis is one of the deadliest genetic diseases, and the gene for it is recessive. This means that you might be a cystic fibrosis carrier without ever knowing it. If you have a child with another cystic fibrosis carrier, the two recessive genes have a high chance of combining to make a dominant gene. Your child may be born with cystic fibrosis.
Testing your DNA helps you understand the risk factors of potentially passing on a genetic disease. Sometimes a DNA test can also illuminate your personal health issues as well. Certain degenerative nerve diseases will show up on a DNA test, including multiple sclerosis. You might be able to determine if you have increased risk factors for invisible diseases like fibromyalgia.
Regardless of the types of reports you pull, DNA testing will tell you more about your physical makeup and the way your body relates to the world. Once you have these answers, you can make the changes that work for your personal goals.