Eating for your blood type — a method of eating that is customized according to each person’s blood type — has been around for a while now. Now, some people are taking it a step further, recommending that people workout and eat according to their DNA. More and more through-the-mail finger prick and cheek swab tests are being created to customize an optimal lifestyle based on one’s genetics. Eating according to your DNA is part of this latest craze.
This newly popular concept in the health and wellness community examines what your DNA says about you, and provides eating recommendations accordingly. It’s called by many names including nutrigenetics, nutrigenomics, or epigenetics.
But just how valid is this “eat for your DNA” concept? What are its actual strengths and benefits and what’s just hocus pocus?
First, What’s Behind This Science?
Up to this point, proponents of eating for your DNA are often those come from the innovative technology world of linking DNA from your body’s own cells, such as DNA fromgut bacteria (the microbiome). They may also be people who have set up companies to analyze the medical reports associated with finding your genealogy, and seeking to broaden their audience.
Focusing on the efficacy of the DNA information to determine the best lifestyle for living is an interesting concept and research does point to this approach as to having some benefits. So yes, there is some validity to utilizing DNA technology to better your health. However, some have pointed out that there may be potential for personal data to be exploited through widespread use of DNA technology.
One example of how this eating method might work involves vitamin B12. There are polymorphisms with a specific gene (called the MTHFR gene) that affect detoxification in the body. Those who show these polymorphisms will have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 and folate from their foods and supplements. In these cases, it’s good to know this because taking the wrong forms of vitamin B12 and folate can make someone feel pretty sick — and the high levels of these vitamin metabolites in the body from the malabsorption could cause issues from toxicity. Yet, a simple change to the right forms of vitamin B12 and folate will contribute to the person feeling better quickly.
Some companies that analyze DNA of the microbiome will offer a list of foods that you should or shouldn’t eat, based on similar information. There have been studies that show that the microbiome of someone who is obese is different than the microbiome of someone who is underweight. When the scientists swapped the microbiome of a non-obese person and implanted it into the gut of obese person, the obese person lost weight fast without trying, and vice versa.
Thus, there is some evidence that finding out what bacterial DNA are in the gut could be a key to helping people who struggle with weight loss. The problem though is that there are hundreds of bacteria in the gut, so determining exactly which ones contribute to obesity and weight loss could take a lot of experimentation and some guesswork.
Always Look at Both Sides of an Issue
The idea of eating for your DNA may be overlooking a few important factors, such as the following:
Foods You Eat Can Turn Genes On and Off
Food contains information for your genes. When you eat healthy foods, you turn on the good genes that contribute to better health and turn off the bad genes that cause illness. That’s why processed foods and GMOs will cause the expression of health disorders.
So it makes sense to simply change your diet and incorporate more healthy foods than unhealthy ones, regardless of DNA.
Nutritional Deficiencies Affect Your Genes
A vitamin D deficiency, for example, could result in incorrect test results, which falsely identify genes as being turned on or off. A zinc deficiency can do the same thing.
In fact, all of the vitamins and minerals have unique and specific actions on certain genes, so a snapshot of your health based on which genes are turned on or off could be skewed by any nutritional deficiency you might have. Thus it makes sense to get checked out for nutritional deficiencies and then simply correct them. By doing so, you will turn on the right genes automatically.
Your Genes Turn On Or Off Based On The Heavy Metal And Chemical / Pesticide Toxicities Your Body Has Accumulated
Toxins from the environment affect your DNA. There’s no question about that. So it’s a good idea to find out what toxins your body is dealing with, using tools like hair analysis or pesticide testing, and then clear them. Once you’ve removed these toxins from your body, your genes straighten out.
Heavy metals and the chemicalglyphosate clearly interfere with your body’s detox pathways. One of the most important detox pathways in the body is the Naf2 pathway, which is shut down completely by glyphosate. This pathway mitigates all the free radicals formed in the body via all the reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radical systems. The good news is that the compound sulforaphane — a substance found in broccoli — activates that Naf2 pathway again and keeps it turned on.
Your Genes Turn On Or Off Based On How Clean Your Body’s Cells Are
Your body has its own detoxification pathways but if they aren’t working right because you aren’t havingregular bowel movements or often hold urination in, then you’ve got problems. The waste products in your body are accumulating and acting as pollution and poison to your cells — and genes.
So if you’re making sure to stay hydrated, addressing any constipation issues, and eating a diet that helps you stay regular, your genes will behave differently. Without all the waste products, the cells work more efficiently, the poisons are kept to a minimum, and the genes stay healthier and more ‘pure’.
Your Genes Are Affected By Medications You Take
Medications affect the mitochondrial DNA. Very often, they harm it. That’s why it’s best if you can get healthy to the point where you just don’t need the medications anymore, thus preserving that valuable DNA.
Eating for your DNA is still a new concept. Although it may have some validity, the science is still in its infancy, and it’s important to keep in mind that our bodies are multidimensional. What we do know is that there are five documented ways that genes really are turned on or off, that what you eat can affect certain gene expressions, and that these things need to be taken into account, while we wait for the science of eating according to DNA to be perfected.