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1191-DNA test can teach you about diet and fitness

There are a couple of things I for all time suspected were written into my DNA. My tendency to leave the house with wet hair. The innate ability to not remember my original mission the second I reach the top of the stairs and the "fat knee syndrome" that everlastingly prohibits those trendy rippedknee skinny jeans. But what if DNA held the secrets to your physical condition, sporting ability and even diet success? DNA testing is not a new observable fact when it comes to health. Angelina Jolie brought the subject to the fore when she had a double mastectomy after finding out she was carrying the BRCA1 gene, a hereditary gene which especially increases the chance of developing breast cancer. For those with a family history, this kind of hereditary test can be a lifesaver.

One individual genome company, 23 and Me, tests for 100 different hereditary conditions. It was banned in the US amid doubts over accuracy, but has since launched in the UK and was reintroduced Stateside last year with FDA sanction for genes related to 36 diseases, including sickle-cell anaemia and cystic fibrosis. Not only could tests be a key to kiss-and-tell medical predispositions in individuals, the vast genetic file that is being built (more than a million public have signed up) could be used in future examine and diagnostics.


From the particular to the broad spectrum and everything in stuck between, it is certainly an area where we can discover a money trove of information about our own bodies. Since it launched in 2013, DNAfit has worked with Olympians and other athletes, tapping into their own strengths and weaknesses and helping them to train and eat consequently.

In a time when we are ever more bombarded with conflicting and often false information on diet and exercise, this sounded promising. I was sent a relatively foolproof home-testing kit, and sent my DNA winging its way back to the test centre. All it takes is a firm cheek swab to get a good quality DNA sample - no bodily fluids necessary. Within a couple of weeks, my results be back, along with some nifty infographics and some potentially life-changing advice. I set up a assembly with Olympic runner Thomas Lancashire to talk me from beginning to end my results.

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Some of it I most likely could have guessed, and I ticked off all the right answers instantly. My body doesn't like carbs. Or, well, it does, so much that it power through them and lays them down as fat (check). So a low-carb diet is the order of the day for me. Happily, though, I'm OK with saturated fat. So break out the butter. a further non-surprise - I metabolise alcohol very slowly. This revenue I get drunk more quickly (check). even though that's good for my cholesterol - those who metabolise booze quickly don't have it in their bloodstream long an adequate amount of to take effect. And I have a higher pre-disposition to coeliac disease - a one-in-35 chance somewhat than onein-a- couple of thousand. (Check. I was diagnose a few years ago.) When it came to my fitness, on the other hand, I was in for a few surprises. Lancashire explained to me that, in general, I had the potential to get pretty damn fit. I have a good VO2 max score, so potentially can amplify my lung capacity and regain fitness levels quite quickly. I have a tendency towards injury but a fast recovery time from exercise. So, while I need to be careful not to strain ligaments and such, I can in theory keep fit every day without need to rest up in between.

Thomas explain that I should be aiming for five to six session a week, mixing up power and endurance training as my suitability is split almost 50/50. That means I'm best suited to high intensity resistance training or HIIT classes and spinning. And no excuses. Lancashire says a tool like this helps to really tailor an exercise programme. "Normally, a trainer would need to know a lot of information about a client - their family history, background, lifestyle - to really see results. This allows us to make more informed decisions when devising training plans." but, he admits that it isn't perfect. "It's not a magic bullet. The environmental side vary from person to person, so we have to take that into story

Diet-wise, separately from cutting back on the refined carbs (bye bye sugar), I exposed that I don't necessarily need a higher than normal intake of cruciferous veg, but could do with cutting down caffeine and salt. twice over the normal RDA of omega-3 was advised - it's a good anti-inflammatory for my injury-prone body. And I was told to increase my intake of selenium, incredible that never really crossed my mind, with foods like brazil nuts, tuna and seafood. Selenium has antioxidant properties so perhaps that will steadiness out the bacon? The genes that DNAfit uses have to have been identified in several clinical trials as useful to human health. Every section of the test compare different genes to calculate your predilection to gain weight, pick up injuries, or even how well your body detoxes the chemicals in charred meat. I learn that the ACTN3 gene, for instance, is the run gene, which helps to produce the fast-twitch muscle fibres that give shortdistance runners that stable power. The FTO genetic material is the fat gene or the obesity gene. An "AA" rating suggests that you are likely to convert fat straight to fat, and a "TT" rating suggests that fat intake has little effect on body weight. I also learn that while I can tolerate a certain amount of fat, it's almost certainly best to lay off the barbecues - my detoxability factor isn't great.


Lancashire stresses throughout the talk that the information provided is just a baseline, and must be used wisely. A DNA test may tell you you are not prone to injury but it won't know if your twice-fractured ankle still gives you evils. I may in theory be able to exercise five to six times a week, but as I have multiple sclerosis, there will be some weeks when under your own steam to the shops is an achievement, let alone human being in the front row at a spin course group.

The nature-vs-nurture discuss remains to the fore: how much of our health is govern by environmental factors? Lifestyle, diet, stress, even contamination can play key roles.

There is also a rather sinister side to genetic testing, and the group has its fair share of sceptics and plot theorists. Our DNA is unique like our fingerprints - the personal road map to our life and bodies. I merrily swabbed inside my cheek and post off my unique in sequence without a second thought and barely a glance at the stipulations and conditions. Critics fear that in the future our DNA could be used by marketing agencies for targeted advertising, and even indemnity companies to hike premiums or even disqualify people with original potential conditions. For now, though, I'm happy to use my genetic information to reintroduce milk to my diet, alter my training command and maybe even consider cutting back on carbs. Only time will tell whether my new-found genetic insight will get me reverse into the lean jeans...


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