Fitness, nutrition, and your genetics: how are they connected?
If you’ve ever tried to start a new routine — whether it’s a new workout regimen or skipping that 3pm carb-fest — you know how hard it is to change behavior. We live in an era of data and have made vast advancements in our understanding of health, so we should be armed with the intel and the inspiration to make the changes we need to improve our lives. But it’s often a struggle, because fundamentally, we’re creatures of habit.
So how do we help each other commit to healthier lifestyles? At Helix, we think that it takes more than genetic test results alone. We believe that a new generation of DNA-powered products and services can be a key part of the solution.
embodyDNA by Lose It! is a great example of a product in the Helix marketplace that’s helping individuals make smarter, more informed decisions about how to improve their fitness, nutrition, and overall wellness by taking cues from personalized genetic profiles. For instance, research has suggested that there’s a genetic component to weight gain from drinking sugary beverages. Knowing that your genetics predispose you to higher weight gain and body mass index (BMI) from sugar intake could help you focus your food and drink choices.
But your DNA affects far more than your relationship with sugar. Genetic markers help determine how your weight can be impacted by everything from the amount (and type) of fat in your diet to the amount of sleep you’re getting. In all, over 30 genes are analyzed to enable embodyDNA to provide fitness and nutrition recommendations that fit you.
Of course, leading a healthy lifestyle doesn’t just mean maintaining a healthy BMI; genetic insights can help you find other ways to feel better, too. Food intolerances are surprisingly common, affecting the majority of adults in one way or another — and advances in personal genomics are telling us more than ever about how genetic conditions like lactose and gluten intolerance work.
Often, food intolerances are subtle — so subtle, in fact, that you may not even realize that a particular ingredient or nutrient is giving you trouble. By assessing your DNA for variations associated with these intolerances using a product like embodyDNA, you may be better equipped to manage your diet and reduce discomfort. If you know that you have genetic variations associated with lactose intolerance, for example, you could try eliminating dairy products from your diet for several weeks to see if you feel better.
In some cases, you may want to add more of a nutrient to your diet. The way your body absorbs certain substances like vitamin D has been linked to markers in your DNA, which is another way that your genetic profile can help you make better decisions at the dining table and in the grocery store.
And when you’re ready to improve your fitness level, genetics can even help you decide which kind of exercise regimen may suit you best. Humans have two kinds of skeletal muscle fibers, slow-twitch and fast-twitch. If you have more slow-twitch muscle fibers, you tend to be better suited for endurance activities like marathons and triathlons, whereas more fast-twitch muscle helps you excel at routines that require power—weight lifting, for instance. embodyDNA results reveal how a gene called ACTN3 influences your muscle composition, and it can use that information to make recommendations for your next workout.
DNA insights can help us make meaningful shifts in how we challenge ourselves, how we eat, and how we approach rest and recuperation. And though our genes can’t explain everything, they can certainly help support us in our quest for better health, better performance, and better living.
Check out embodyDNA by Lose It! in the Helix marketplace. And to learn more about Helix, visit helix.com.
Helix is the leading population genomics and viral surveillance company operating at the intersection of clinical care, research, and data analytics.