Are you interested in knowing how your genome can be influenced by your nutrition and lifestyle from the comfort of your own home? Then read on!
First lets define what the best things to look at with a direct to consumer kit are:
Genes involved with Nutrigenetics: The way the diet influences the risk of developing a disease
Genes that influence Nutrigenomics: How nutrients effect the genome AND the biochemistry we can measure related to lifestyle choices (this is key!)
From: Basic of Genetics, methylation, MTHFR and DHFR: Understanding the functional applications of nutritional genomics in practice
*Direct to consumer tests do include some pathogenic (disease causing) SNP’s but not many. If you are testing for a genetic disease please work with a doctor or genetic counselor.
Step 1: order a kit from a CLIA certified lab (want me to do this for you? Ask me how)
What the heck does this mean?
It means the raw data that you receive back form the company is RELIABLE!
“All laboratories that perform health-related testing, including genetic testing, are subject to federal regulatory standards called the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) or even stricter state requirements. CLIA standards cover how tests are performed, the qualifications of laboratory personnel, and quality control and testing procedures for each laboratory. By controlling the quality of laboratory practices, CLIA standards are designed to ensure the analytical validity of genetic tests.” https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/testing/validtest
For direct to consumer testing the only two that I am aware of that currently have this certification are 23 and me and MyHeritage. Please comment below if you know otherwise.
If you are worried about privacy, opt out of sharing your information and do not participate in their research. (you may have to click decline many many many times).
After you have downloaded your data have it deleted.
There are certain bits of information that will still be kept but your information will not be used for research. To me the information you will glean from running your genetics far outweighs the risks.
From the New York Times:
To delete your 23andMe data, head to your account settings page and find the “Delete Your Data” option under “23andMe Data.” You can download any or all of your data before you destroy it. If you agreed to have your sample saved, it will also be physically destroyed.
However, 23andMe uses a laboratory that must follow regulations under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, or CLIA. This means that some data, including your DNA, sex and date of birth will be retained in order to comply with these regulations. The company will no longer use that information, though. You can read more about the company’s deletion process here.
To delete data from MyHeritage, log into your account, click your name in the upper-right corner, and choose “Account Settings.” From there, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Delete Account.” You can also choose to delete your Family Tree Builder projects or sites without deleting your entire account, but this will not necessarily delete your data. Since MyHeritage labs are CLIA-certified, they will also retain some information about you.”
One additional thing to remember:
If you plan on using another company to analyze your data (what I recommend), you DO NOT need to pay for the nutrition reports that these companies offer. You get a complete raw data file that you can download when you order the ancestry only report and it is cheaper.
So……I’ve received my results… I’m 2% Neanderthal now what??!!
Step 2:. Decide what the heck I’m going to do with this information!
You have some options here. There is software that you can directly load your data into and try to analyze it yourself. Some options here are Livewello and Prometheus or free software like Genetic Genie. Do I recommend this? If you have some training, understand biochemistry and have a lot of time on your hands for research then sure. Otherwise No.
There are a myriad of nutrition panels that you can buy on-line “How to eat for your genes,” blah blah, if this is something you are interested in (ever searched on the web) I’m sure it has popped up on your facebook feed, I’m not going to list them here. People have brought me many of these, they are pretty reports and give some interesting information but usually when I ask my client was this helpful? Was it actionable? Did it improve your health? I get a blank stare….or they say I didn’t really understand it, it was contraindicated in parts, I tried the supplements it recommended and felt worse etc etc.
Most of these reports are made and researched by PhDs, RD’s, Certified nutritionists and Doctors. They are looking at the correct genes BUT they are templates that are spitting out information and giving recommendations for food, lifestyle and supplement recommendations based ONLY on a variation in your genetic code.
A variation or SNP on a gene does not necessarily = a supplement. It doesn’t even mean that that variation is active!
IT DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY. Gene variations can turn on and off, they don’t change but the way the EXPRESS is influenced by our lifestyle. This is called epigenetics!
Example: Just because the MTHFR enzyme (gene) makes folate does not mean that you take folate or folic acid because you have a variation!
Step 3: Find a company or practitioner that uses these reports AND lab data to VALIDATE your genome, uses pathway analysis, symptom analysis and gives you recommendations based on all of this, not just the variation.
Your genome can be your blueprint for optimal health, it is an amazing tool when used correctly, but stressful and confusing when not.
Back in Jan of 2017 I wrote this article, some of these are still available and there are many many more companies now that are providing reporting. I still am not wild about any of them, so I am now working for the Doctor who taught me everything I know about nutrition and how it relates to your genetics and I have helped create useable panels that are validated with labs. Our reports are done by hand by an actual human and in most cases (unless mini panels) validated with required lab testing (your own unique biochemistry!) please visit here to see our offerings. I’m really excited about these!