Should we eat according to our DNA?

I’m not a fan of diets. As soon as I tell myself I’m not allowed to eat something, that’s all I think about. I believe in eating real food that gives my body the best nourishment it needs to thrive. But what if my body needs a special mix of nutrients, determined by my genes? Can my DNA dictate my dietary requirements?

I was offered the chance to find out. A while ago I had my genes tested by DNAlysis to see how my DNA could influence my skincare requirements. DNAlysis also tested to determine my optimal diet, and my optimal health plan. I mean, it sounds pretty legit, right?

How does it work?

You’ll visit your health professional who will give you a little DNA collection kit with a swab and a tube. You rub the swab inside your mouth for a few minutes, pop it in the tube, scribble on your details and off it goes to the lab. A few weeks later your specialist – in this case a dietician – gets in touch to talk you through your results.

Why should we look to our genes?

A healthy diet and good exercise routine is a surefire route to a healthy life, right? Yes. But what I also learnt through this process was the finer nuances that could really boost my lifestyle. Where were my health weak-spots and how could I tweak my diet to ensure I gave my body the right nutrients?

It’s not just about eating healthy, but eating the RIGHT healthy foods for YOUR body.

The tests tells you how your body reacts to things like carbohydrates and fats, how high your risk is for obesity, and how weak you are to sweet things. Yup, a sweet tooth is actually a real thing and some people have an inborn weakness to crave sugary foods. Another interesting thing I learnt was that I have a predisposition to snack. You know that feeling you get when you’re full? I am less inclined to feel that, which means I need to be extra aware of how much I eat.

DNA Diet will determine whether you should follow either a Low Carb, Low Fat or Mediterranean diet. According to my results, the best diet for me would be Mediterranean, which is high in good fats and plant-based foods, and low in saturated fats. My ideal diet would be rich in whole-grains, veggies, nuts, seeds and olives, with plenty of olive oil and seafood.

But isn’t this the optimal diet for everyone? Yeah, the Mediterranean diet is generally prescribed as the best course for a healthy lifestyle, so I’m not sure whether this is a revelation. Even being prescribed a low carb or low fat diet would deliver significant results. So is it worth spending this much money to find that out? I’m not sure.

But then there’s DNA Health.

Take a look at DNA Health

DNAlysis can also analyse your swab for certain health risks. With this information you can adjust your diet and lifestyle, which could help your body function better and potentially reduce your risk for things like cancer.

Through these tests I learnt that my body is not that good at getting rid of toxins, and I have an increased risk for DNA damage. The experts recommended that I focus on foods rich in folate and B vitamins to help with DNA repair.

I was advised to consume a diet high in anti-oxidants and magnesium, which could help curb my higher risk of breast cancer. They explained that my liver needs a bit of help with detoxification, and that I should focus on cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower, kale etc) and allium (onions, chives, leeks etc) vegetables to aid this process.

I also learnt that I have a high risk for inflammation, which I could help manage by eating foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (nuts, seeds and olive oil), as well as other foods that help fight inflammation like ginger and red berries.

Is it worth it?

Let’s talk about the DNA Diet analysis first: I think the most interesting takeaway from these tests is how much of our ability to lose weight is largely determined by our genes. Some people really do struggle to process carbohydrates and fats. Some people really are more at risk for obesity than others. I think this test would be especially insightful to people who want to understand why their diets and workouts aren’t delivering the results they wish to see. It could help people understand their bodies better, and also help them set a course of action that could deliver real results.

I found the DNA Health Test particularly valuable. It gave me insight into potential health risks dictated by my genes, and helpful advice on how I should tweak my diet specifically. Where the DNA Diet results in my case came down to “eat healthy and exercise regularly”, DNA Health told me what type of healthy food and supplements I should focus on for my specific risk factors. And because I now know my health risks, I know what I should be worried about in the future. That’s pretty awesome.

As a new mom I’d also be keen to test my daughter and find out what her health risks are, and how I could adjust her diet to meet her specific needs.

Overall I do think that this type of customised care will be the future of the health and wellness industry. Why choose a generic plan when you can look at something tailored to your body? It’s an expensive process. A DNA Diet Test costs R1 890 and DNA Health R3 108, without the consultation fee from your health specialist. From my side I’d recommend spending more and doing DNA Health since the results offer so much value. I would also recommend using these tests as a starting point and then working with a healthcare professional to build an effective lifestyle plan to ensure you’re making the most of your analysis results.

Keen to try it?

These tests can analyse you for various areas including Health, Diet, Skin and Mind. It’s an incredibly exciting field and I am interested to see how it will change the way we pursue healthcare.

You can get more information about these tests on their website. I’ve tackled skin, diet and health, but they also have a range of other areas you can focus on.

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