Genetic testing is an interesting, yet hotly debated topic. With the increasing availability and cost effectiveness of individual genomic profiling, it’s now possible to gain detailed information regarding our present and future health. But interpreting that information is another matter. The human genome is incredibly complex, with interplay between at least 20,000 genes. Add to this the ongoing potential environmental impact to our DNA, and the possibilities are endless.
Genes are like light switches, they can be switched on or switched off as needed to code for proteins that make up different components of the human body. The study of epigenetics examines how the environment can change the way genes are expressed (which way the switch goes), and how this can lead to disease if left unchecked.
Benefits of genetic testing
The benefits of genetic testing are substantial. In addition to conventional pathology, it can help to decipher why a set of symptoms is present and assist both client and practitioner to go deeper into understanding the root cause of the complaint. Genetic testing can help identify when nutritional deficiencies may be the result of heredity rather than diet. It can help identify the cause of hormonal issues, and the likelihood of certain genetic diseases being present.
Understand the impact that your environment can have upon your genes. For example, just because you have the genetic profile associated with a certain disease, this does not mean that you will get it. The interplay between your genes and environmental factors is enormous and it is this that will dictate the emergence of that condition.
More recently, it is being utilised to benefit health rather than just avoid disease. Examples include optimising vitamin D, folate and B12 status, enhancing detoxification, supporting healthy menstrual cycles, reducing inflammation and improving memory, concentration and mood. Genetic testing also adds an extra layer to the growing practice of personalised medicine: Rather than the ‘one size fits all’ approach, more health professionals are now prescribing regimens to benefit the individual, in place of the more traditional blanket approach.
Things to know before you get tested.
Decoding the information provided by genetic testing often requires the skills of a genetic counsellor or other experienced professional. And it should be noted that while our knowledge of genetics is growing daily, the field is still in its infancy, and the intricate interplay between our genes and the environment is yet to be fully understood.
However, genetic testing can provide extremely useful information to help you create the healthiest version of your current and future self. If you’re keen to know more, here’s a checklist of things that will enable you to make the most of your results and avoid any pitfalls.
- Look for an experienced and qualified practitioner who specialises in DNA testing that can help you interpret your results. Talk to them first and gain an understanding of the specific genes that are applicable to your situation.
- Don’t use your results in isolation. It’s advisable to get appropriate pathology testing done to assist with interpretation.
- Understand the impact that your environment can have upon your genes. For example, just because you have a genetic profile associated with a certain disease, this does not mean that you will get it. The interplay between your genes and environmental factors is enormous and it is this that will dictate the emergence of that condition.
- Some genes have a larger weight of research behind them than others. Most reputable gene testing companies will provide you/your practitioner with this information.
- Got all the information you need? Your practitioner will advise you on the next steps, using your results to help you achieve great health!
The way forward?
There is no doubt that personalised medicine is the way forward for the future. Genetic testing will expand our knowledge and assist us in prescribing individualised treatments that are far more effective than anything we’ve seen before. Is it the answer to all our health woes? Probably not. But it will continue to provide us with valuable insights about the causes of disease, and how to mitigate the risk of environmental impact.
We are now providing the opportunity to access evidence based genetic testing! If you’d like to know more, please contact the clinic.