Your Quick Guide to Genetics for Optimal Mental Wellness
You might hear a lot about genetics these days, from using it to find out where your ancestors came from to testing for specific diseases. But what genes are, what the study of genetics covers, and how genetics can be used as an impactful health recommendations tool is still somewhat a mystery to most.
Each individual is unique, yet for too long, healthcare has provided a one-size-fits-all approach that actually doesn’t fit anyone. It fails to provide the long-term wellness and lifestyle choices that each individual needs specifically for them. Here at The Fulfilled Fork, I’ve discovered the value of knowing your genes, and want to share this life-changing information with you. Here’s a quick guide to what genetics is and how it can lead you to your optimal health and wellness when coupled with holistic nutrition and lifestyle coaching.
What are genes?
Genes are bits of code found in our DNA that carry and create our various unique traits. Obvious examples are our eye color or height, but genes can also inform other things like our metabolism, how our cardiovascular system works, or if we might be predisposed to disease. 99.9% of our genes are the same as everyone else’s, but it’s that .1% that makes us truly unique — and from where we can gain the most insights into how our bodies function.
What is genetics?
Genetics is the study of genes. It’s the study of how traits are passed down through families, which genes affect which body processes, and how different genes express themselves, but most importantly how we respond to the world around us, the food we eat, the exercise we do, and the stress we encounter.
What are genetic variants?
That .1% of our genes that isn’t like everyone else’s is important because it’s where genetic variants come into play. Genetic variants are simply ‘spelling changes’ in our genetic code that may impact how the gene works. People that have a specific genetic variant may find their cellular or systems functionality impacted in some way, making it different than someone else’s — sometimes for the better!
What are some examples of genetic variants?
Genes can do all types of things in a person’s body, and variants can influence functionality all the way down to the cellular level. For example, the ACE gene influences our potential for fitness endurance or power. The GSTM1 gene helps eliminate toxins from our body. The HFE gene affects our iron storage. The APOE gene impacts inflammation. As you can probably guess, any variation that alters a gene’s functionality can contribute to everything from general bad health to chronic disease.
How do genetic variants impact my health and wellness?
A common misconception is that our genes are set for life, and we can’t change them. We can’t change the code, but if we know what genetic variants a person has, and how their genes express themselves in various ways to influence a person’s health, then that person can make lifestyle and food choices that take those genetic variants into account. For example, someone may have a genetic variant that causes them to store iron too well. That means that we can do further testing and if need be recommend treatments that will address any excess iron. Or someone may have a genetic variant that impacts their ability to metabolize caffeine. They know then that they need to cut back on that extra cup of coffee to decrease their anxiety!
What is genetic testing and what does it do?
How do we find out what a person’s genetic makeup is? Take a test! Genetic testing is fast and painless, and typically involves a simple cheek swab. The results, however, are complex, and can provide insights into cellular function, systems function, mood, cardiovascular health, how we manage our energy intake, nutrient processing, and more.
5 Reasons to Get a Genetic Test Today
1. Clarity into Who You Are
Knowing your genetic code, and specifically what genetic variations you have, can help us better understand how your body responds to the world around you, to certain foods you eat, certain activities you do, and more. It can give us better clarity into things like how your body handles inflammation, or if weight loss will be a challenge for you. Better clarity into how your cells and systems work, how your body processes nutrients, and how it burns energy is the start of personalized health.
2. A Focus on Root Causes
Having clarity into how your body uniquely functions is the first step, and with that clarity we can create a more focused approach to your healthcare. For example, if your genes tell us that your cells have a hard time getting rid of toxins, then we can look at making food and lifestyle choices to minimize the introduction of toxins into your body. By having the blueprint of your genetic makeup, we can start building the right foundation. We can also treat illness and disease at the root of the issue instead of just treating downstream symptoms.
3. Better Food Choices
One of the most impactful changes a person can make on their health is changing what they eat and the way they eat. But the age-old question has been, What diet is best for me? The best diet is the one that aligns with your genetics. Insights into your genetics can determine if you need more of certain vitamins, or if you need to cut out foods that cause you inflammation, or if your body holds fat easily, or if you need to cut down on your caffeine intake.
4. More Targeted Screening
In addition to understanding how your systems work best and how to tailor lifestyle and food choices to your unique body, genetics can also help us better understand the root causes of illness. By doing so, we can choose better options for more targeted screening and testing. Instead of generic or blanket testing that may leave us searching for how to help you, genetics can help us pinpoint exactly where to look — like having a map to where we need to go, instead of just guessing.
5. More Precise Supplements
Similarly, knowing your genetic makeup can help us find the right supplements for your genes when necessary. For example, if we know that your genes store iron too well, we can recommend the right intervention, instead of a trial-and-error process that would happen without those genetic insights. Once again, knowing a person’s genetic makeup, and how their genes affect their systems, metabolism, cardiovascular health, and more, allows us to make more personalized and customized recommendations for you.
What clients have said about genetic testing + coaching here at The Fulfilled Fork…
“I feel like I’m prioritizing my health in a better way now and actually making choices that align with where I want to go in life.”
“I’m feeling more positive, less stressed, and I have a lot more energy since working with Haley!”
“It’s important for people to know that the amount of information you will gain from the test can be overwhelming if you don’t have a professional to guide and support you through it. Haley helps me understand what it all means and how I can use the information for my health.”
“I gained knowledge and awareness of my body. My mindset has changed a lot in a positive way since having the information from the genetic test. It has helped me be more mindful.”
“The information gained helps reinforce and motivate me to make healthier habits a part of my lifestyle. I feel great!”
tapping into Your Genes
You may think you know yourself pretty well, but you can get to know yourself a lot better by getting to know your genes. If you know the genetic makeup that explains how your body functions and reacts to the world around you, there’s no limit to what kind of insight that could provide into your health and overall well-being. You could eat delicious foods that would help optimize your health and you could do the exercises that are right for your metabolism and energy levels, based on your genes. Your genetics can also point towards the root causes of illness and disease that could help us create a much more tailored treatment approach – including depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue! In other words, your genetic test is like a blueprint that guides you in building your health and wellness from the ground up.
Your genes won’t just give unique insights into how your body functions, but can also put you on the path to optimized, holistic health and wellness — it might just be the path you’ve always been searching to embrace your most aligned, fulfilled life. If you’re not convinced yet, you might want to nerd out on epigenetics, nutrigenomics, and nutrigenetics more in this article.