Here's How Genetic Testing Can Help Improve Your Health

It's easy to have your DNA analyzed today, and it can provide you with a wealth of information about your body. You don't need a doctor's order to run the test, but you do need to pay for it out of pocket if you order it yourself. There are several genetic testing companies you can choose from. All you do is buy the test and mail in a saliva sample. You'll get your results in a few weeks. Besides being a fun way to discover your genetic ancestry, genetic testing may also be able to improve your health. Here are some ways that it can help.

Customize Your Diet

Low carbohydrate, high fat diets are very popular right now, but they may not be right for everyone. Your DNA affects the way your body uses saturated fat. If you have a certain APOA2 variant for example, it causes you to store saturated fat in your body. If you eat a high fat diet with this variant, you'll be more likely to become overweight. If you take your test results to a nutritionist or doctor who understands the relationship between various genes and diet, you may be able to customize the ideal diet that helps you lose weight and ward off cholesterol problems.

Choose The Right Supplements And Drugs

Your DNA also affects how your body responds to supplements, over-the-counter medications, and prescription drugs. If you have the fairly common MTHFR mutation, then your body may have a hard time processing synthetic folic acid. If you test your DNA and discover this, you can avoid vitamins and foods that contain synthetic folic acid, and choose ones that have natural methylfolate instead, since your body is able to handle it better. Other genes affect how prescription drugs act in your body, such as the SLCO1B1 gene that is linked to statin drug metabolism. If you have the SLCO1B1 variant that is associated with increased risk of muscle pain when you take statins, your doctor may be more willing to take your symptoms seriously and look for an alternative treatment.

Make Lifestyle Modifications

You may think you'd rather not know if you have the heart attack gene or Alzheimer's gene if there's nothing you can do about it. However, the emerging science of epigenetics suggests you can shut down bad genes and turn on helpful ones by making lifestyle modifications. That means you may avoid progressing into Alzheimer's disease if you make the proper changes to your diet and add in exercise, the right supplements, and stress reduction techniques. By knowing what diseases your body is prone to develop whether it's heart disease, macular degeneration, liver disease, or cancer, you can begin preventative lifestyle treatments long before you have symptoms with the hope of keeping the disease at bay.

One thing to keep in mind when you order your DNA test is that not all genetic testing companies run a full DNA analysis. Many people want their DNA tested for ancestry purposes only, so a company may not even return results for a full gene profile. So, if you want to know if you have a specific gene mutation such as MTHFR or the Alzheimer's gene, be sure you find out if the test you order will provide the information you seek.