* image courtesy of XKCD.com
Depending on where you’re at in your own self care you might have already heard of getting your DNA sequenced. You may have already even done the spit-in-a-tube-and-ship-back-to-sender test at 23andme (or any of the other DNA testing services online).
Hell – you may even have braved looking through your data and gone to some extra interpretation sites to get more explanations about what your hardware’s made of… and you may have (like me) been bitten by the bug and though – WOW! This is BIG! There’s no other way for individualised healthcare to go…
Or you may have already gone down the rabbit hole, and you’re sitting now on a ton of info – half of which you’re trying to remember (there’s sh*tload of it) – and half you’re trying to forget (because it can be very unsettling. I mean, knowing what’s written in your ‘stars’ can be somewhat prescriptive – no?).
Be excited – wherever you are in that journey. Because this IS big! And there is no other way for effective healthcare to go.
And you should bother to find out and put in the effort to know and understand at least the basics. Then hand over to a knowledgable healthcare pro (notice I didn’t say doctor – more on that later), and together you can make sweet, soulful health ‘music’ for you, your family, and the generations you’re potentially raising.
The bottom line is that understanding your unique DNA sequence, and more specifically the mutations you’ve been dealt, can empower you to make your body and your mind even stronger.
Some genes you can’t do anything about. If you have those defects, you just have to make the best of it. But a lot of the others are malleable. You can do things to shape them in your favour.
In fact, only one part of the puzzle that makes YOU is your hard-coded DNA. The other, more exciting (and IMHO more important) part is your Epigenetics.
Epigenetics is the study of how your environment changes the expression of your genes. Yes – you read that right (your DNA is not your destiny).
(* just to be clear here: you can’t change your DNA, but how you live can change the way your DNA expresses in your body – as perfect mood, endless energy, or foggy brain, and cycling depression and so on.)
It’s your immediate environment – internally (your thoughts, mindset, what you eat, drink, or inhale) and externally (the air you breathe, the people you love or hate, the family you’re hanging out with, the mood in your home, the sun in your sky… the music in your ears, your work, your play).
But it’s also what your parents did, thought, and endured. That also played a part in how their genes expressed and subsequently how yours turned out – meaning who you are right now.
Epigenetics gives physical evidence for how your environment shapes you on a physical level – cellularly.
Your environment has control of the keys of your DNA piano. It controls how you play that hand of DNA cards you’ve been dealt. And ultimately IF you win the game of life.
OK, enough of the metaphors.
The bottom line here is that sequencing your DNA gives you some control over how you live your life. The quality of your physical and mental experience in this world.
It gives you choices. It gives you insights into what’s making you tick and how to make yourself tick better.
DNA in itself isn’t new news. But having easy and inexpensive access to sequencing yours. And then understanding the healthcare implications around it, and using the info to positively affect your health, is a very babyfaced discipline.
So new in fact, that we only have a minuscule amount of the 25,000 genes of the the human genome interpreted and somewhat connected to what they actually mean for your health.
And even those we know about, still weave a very intricate web that needs to be approached with caution and childlike curiosity.
Herein lie the warnings (if you choose to accept this quest :o):
- understand that how your DNA sequence expresses itself is changeable – so let it empower you not scare you stiff.
- understand that we have some ideas of how to tweak the dials in your favour, but it’s very early stages to KNOW the precise paths. This will be a trial and error type of quest. You will need to give a sh^t if you’re to make this effective.
focus on the symptoms (not the mutations).
- go slow… no – go very slow… and listen to your body – it has all the answers.
- understand you’re in for the long run. This isn’t a diet. Or a stint. Or a project. There’s a beginning, but there’s no end…
BUT – for all the effort you’ll be asked to put in, you’re going to find out some pretty cool sh1t about yourself. You might be excited by the ancestry composition analysis you get. You find out what you’re made of. Me – I’m 99.4% European (no surprises there). There’s 2.5% neanderthal in me, and so on.
You can find a plethora of cousins and other peeps related to you.
The stuff that excites me more is that you’ll have clues to what medications may not be effective or even damaging to you. For example, a mutation in a certain gene makes you more likely to have a major cardiac event if you were to get nitric oxide as a sedative at the dentist…
I say this not so scare you, but to illustrate how important knowing this can be for you.
You might find out (like me) the likely reason why you’re plagued by anxiety as your normal mental state. Which gives you a chance to take a supplement and experience peace of mind you’ve never thought possible… That little event right there was worth the cost of the DNA kit (a dwarf $199).
There’s a lot more data you’ll have – but we’ll get to it in our future conversations.
Right – so if you’re willing to accept the quest – you’re in for a treat!
I’m planning to share pretty much anything I find on the topic. I’m in for the long haul on this. I promise to make it as easy as possible to follow along. And I aim to give you unbiased, multifaceted information and thoughts – all to help empower you in your quest for your bespoke healthcare.
I love this opportunity to upgrade myself – my mental and physical. And I’d love you to come along with me :o)
I plan to give you actionable valid stuff. I’ll start with the basics in the next post and move on from there.
For now, if you haven’t already done so, and you’re excited by my slight rant above – go to 23andme and order your kit. It takes 4+ weeks for the results to come through, so the sooner you spit in that tube, the sooner you’ll be able to go down the rabbit hole… Alice :o)
Be happy. Be you.
personal change catalyst
P.S. If you plan to do this for more than one person, you can get $20/£20 Amazon gift card for each consecutive kit you order.