PRESS RELEASE: Victorian company helps patients harness the power of their DNA

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PRESS RELEASE: Victorian company helps patients harness the power of their DNA

  • Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy Philip Dalidakis will visit myDNA in Melbourne on Tuesday, 30 October 2018 to open its expanded laboratory
  • A local success story, myDNA has expanded across Australia and Into the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore and Canada.
  • myDNA provides individualised health and wellness reports for fitness, nutrition, medication management, weight management, heart health, vitamins, food sensitivities and caffeine

Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy Philip Dalidakis today visited local success story myDNA to officially open the company’s new expanded laboratory

myDNA is a health company which helps people make better health and wellness decisions through greater access to personalised genetic information.

Specialising in the interpretation of the data derived from genetic sequencing myDNA Enables more effective health and wellness planning and care.

Associate Professor and myDNA Co-Founder Les Sheffield said myDNA is a great example of how Victorian personalised health and wellness know – how can be developed to have a global impact.

“It is testimony that an investment into local innovation into medical technology can result in Australia playing an international role in the future of personalised health and wellness,” said Professor Sheffield.

Through an in-house built software system, myDNA is able to take a patient’s raw DNA results and use proprietary algorithms to produce meaningful insights that help them make better decisions about their health and wellness.

The myDNA software system has allowed the company to scale its operations and services across Australia and internationally into the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore and Canada, with the organisation quickly growing from six to 40 staff and plans to launch in the United States.

myDNA currently reports on genes related to fitness, nutrition, medication management, weight management, heart health, vitamins, food sensitivities and caffeine.

5 ways we keep your DNA private

Some things are better kept secret: your pin number, passwords and most definitely your DNA. After all, what’s more personal than your genetic code? It’s what makes you unique.

You might have heard about the American DNA testing company, 23andMe, that has made a USD $300million deal with a pharmaceutical company, giving it exclusive access to consenting customers’ anonymised genetic results. With myDNA, that type of deal is not going to happen.

We will never sell your information. Your DNA belongs to you. And here’s what we do to make sure it stays that way.

1) Privacy is our priority

We use internationally recognised security software and IT systems to make sure your genetic results will never knowingly be seen by anyone outside of myDNA without your permission. You’re the only person who can access your Wellness & Nutrition reports at www.mydna.life, and it’s your choice to share this information with health professionals – or anyone else. A myDNA Medication Report has to be ordered by a healthcare professional who will help you understand your results.

Authorised myDNA staff members can access your information with a secure password ONLY if we need to discuss your results with you.

2) We will never sell your DNA

We do not sell, trade or transfer your personal information. While we do use de-identified data for our own internal research, we don’t provide your data to other organisations or third parties. One of myDNA’s strengths is the ability to analyse your DNA in our own accredited lab and through our own IT infrastructure which avoids the risk of your data being shared or leaked.

3) We only keep what we need

When you create a myDNA account and register your DNA sample, we only collect the information that’s necessary to process your DNA sample and make sure your results remain confidential.

We use your personal information to test your DNA, answer your questions, or offer new services, such as the sugar, aging and vitamin DNA tests that we’ve got in development. Anytime we contact you, we’ll always give you the choice to opt-out.

4) Your DNA stays here (unless you ask us to delete it)

We test and analyse your DNA sample at our secure laboratory in Melbourne, Australia. We freeze your DNA sample so we can thaw it and re-test if you’d like a new report on something new.

We can run different DNA tests using the same sample, as we look for different genetic markers, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). They’re what lead to physical differences in people, such as appearance or response to food or medicine.

If you’d like your DNA sample destroyed and your personal data deleted from our systems, all you have to do is email help@mydna.life. We’ll email you back to confirm that it’s done.

5) We don’t share your results, but you might have to…

In some countries, such as Australia, life insurance companies can ask you to tell them about any genetic test results when you are applying for cover. However, myDNA focuses on lifestyle genetics and the majority of genes we analyse are unrelated to disease risk and shouldn’t have significant implications for life insurance.

In other countries, like Canada and the UK, insurance companies aren’t allowed to ask for your predictive genetic results. So, if you’re thinking of taking a test and want to get your life insurance in order first, it’s important to check your local regulations first.

You can read about all about the ways we protect your privacy in our privacy policy.

Horror health journey: Ballina woman’s warning to others

A simple, yet effective saliva test could have saved Alison Vickery from a brain injury and years of ongoing health issues.

The 56-year-old Ballina woman, a former finance director and chartered accountant who has worked for Kerry Packer, had a toxic reaction to a cocktail of drugs she was given following a CT scan in 2008.

“I had an allergic reaction to the iodine used in the scan and as a consequence was given medications that my body could not process nor tolerate,” Alison said.

“I have a fault in the CYP2D6 gene.

“The faulty gene, inherited from my parents, means that my body cannot metabolise certain medications and the drugs I was given following the scan resulted in a brain injury and delirium.

“I suffered through years of memory blackouts, chronic fatigue syndrome, histamine intolerance and a hypersensitivity to chemicals, mould and many other things.”

However, Alison said that a simple saliva test, called a myDNA Medication test could help predict an individual’s response to medication. The test is underpinned by a science based on DNA called pharmacogenomics.

Alison’s medical journey has now prompted her to start an association – Australians for Safe Medicines, as well as a petition to Parliament calling for the pharmacogenomic test to be subsidised by Medicare and to remove the barriers of access so that individuals could protect themselves and their families from avoidable iatrogenic harm.

She said that current prescribing guidelines do not consider how an individual person will respond to medications before prescribing them.

“Current Australian prescribing guidelines adopt a ‘one size fits all’ model and assumes that a person takes one medicine,” Alison said.

“But it’s an individual’s genes, and particularly four key genes including the CYP2D6, CYP2C19, CYP2C9 and CYP3A4 that determine how an individual will respond to medicines.

“These four genes process approximately 80 per cent of all medicines and they are highly variable between people including specific ethnic groups.

“Numerous American, British and Australian studies have repeatedly shown unsafe medicines to be amongst the top four causes of death and disability, yet doctors and other medical professionals do not tell patients about the saliva test.”

Alison said the aim of the association was to educate and empower people to take control of their own health and to prevent the prescribing of unsafe medications.

“No one can dispute the fact that medicines should be safe and all it takes is a simple and fairly cheap saliva test available at your local pharmacy,” she said.

“The test will tell you the functionality of your genes and then the pharmacist can advise you and your GP about what medications are safe for you.

“All medications have a risk, but this test can help to inform everyone, including those in the health industry, to make medications safer.”

“If this best practise was implemented, the savings to the healthcare budget would be enormous.”

Alison said the Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, had informed her that a thorough search for staff with specialities in drug allergies and pharmacogenomics in the Northern NSW Local Health District had not found any practitioners with these qualifications.

She said this lack of expert practitioners needed to be urgently addressed.

“After three years of battling poor health, I can now say I’m healthy, but I am passionate about driving the call for safer medications being available to everyone.”

As part of the campaign to increase awareness of the impact of DNA on reactions to medication, Alison Vickery is calling for people to add their names to this very brief survey – please take a moment to fill it in: https://www.safemedicines.com.au/boxed_warnings.

For more information on myDNA tests go to www.mydna.life.

This article was originally published in The Northern Star 10th August 2018

How three active people are using DNA insights to reach their goals

Reach your goals

Donna’s been preparing for the Kokoda Trail for over a year, but with the nine-day trek fast approaching, she wanted to optimize her training. She ordered a myDNA Nutrition & Fitness report to help her get there.

Her report revealed that she’s more likely to get soft tissue injuries. In 2014, she damaged her hip running the Melbourne Marathon, something she wanted to avoid this time around:

“Injuring myself prior to achieving this goal, a long-held bucket list item, is a grave concern for me. I want to train in the safest possible way for my body.”

Working with her trainer, she used her new insights to overhaul her training plan by adding dynamic exercises and proper rest days to minimise her risk of injury.

“Last week was the first real test of this. Although I was tired, my body fared well and— more importantly— my hip barely gave me grief.”

Maximise Your Potential

Nicolette was already fit and strong, so she used her myDNA Nutrition & Fitness bundle to review her overall health.

“The results showed that I create muscle power easily, but don’t have great flexibility. I’m prone to soft tissue damage and when I tear something it takes longer to get better.

Intuitively, I probably knew this, but this report has helped me to accept my body and how it works. I need to be careful and work more consistently if I want to do the splits one day.”

After she received her results, Nicolette worked with her trainer to focus more on weights, HIIT and flexibility.

With these changes, Nicolette stayed the same weight, but gained 3kg in muscle and saw her body fat drop from 18.5% to 15.5%.

Train Smarter not Harder

Shane’s been active his whole life, playing ice hockey for 17 years and doing kick-boxing, body-building, wind-surfing and surfing.

Now that he’s over 50 with four children, he has less time to train. He says his body doesn’t work quite as well as it used to, but he still wants to keep fit. He says:

“That’s why the myDNA Reports have been so valuable. I don’t want to follow whatever diet some guy in the gym recommends. It’s got to be right for my body.”

His reports revealed that he’s an athletic all-rounder who can burn fat fast. This helped to explain why he’d excelled at so many sports and stayed thin easily, while others struggled.

His report also recommended he leave more time to recover after exercise. Since making this change, Shane feels that he’s about to bring more strength to his training sessions.

Shane has now ordered several kits for his children so that they can have access to this valuable self-knowledge from a younger age.

What’s the evidence for DNA-based diets?

Genetically-tailored health plans may sound like something out of science-fiction, but they’ve become a reality. Genetic testing was once reserved for inherited diseases and serious illnesses like cancer. But in recent years, there’s been a wave of studies investigating how our genes affect our everyday lives. In particular, how our genes affect our response to different diets.

Traditional dietary guidelines are based on the assumption that One Size Fits All, but it’s easy to see that this approach doesn’t work. Every individual is different and each body works differently. A diet that works well for one person can fail for another, and the foods that make one person gain weight might not affect another person in the same way.

Genetics allows us to identify why these different responses exist. These insights can then be used to develop dietary recommendations based on someone’s unique genetic profile.

How do DNA markers make a difference?

One example comes from the FTO gene, otherwise known as the ‘fat gene’. One variant of this gene means that you have a tendency not to feel full after eating and you are more likely to become overweight.

A 2012 randomised controlled trial assigned one of four diets— each with differing proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrate— to 742 obese people. They found that people with the at-risk variant of the FTO gene lost more weight on a protein-rich diet compared to people with a different genetic result.

Similar studies have been done for other genes. If you have a variation of the ADIPOQ gene, then the classic method of eating less and moving more is the best way to slim down. But if you have a variant of the PPARG gene, adopting a low-fat diet with emphasis on omega-3 might be more beneficial to help with weight loss . Studies like these are probably just the tip of the iceberg, with more studies expected to accumulate in the near future.

Do DNA-based plans work better?

For some genetic markers there is strong evidence that depending on the genetic variation an individual can lose more or less weight if they stick to a certain diet over a long period of time.

In addition, several studies have examined the topic of personalised dietary advice more generally, and the results look promising. The studies found that people who are given personalised nutritional advice are more motivated to make better choices for their health and follow their health plans. As for any diet, following the plan is essential for it to work.

In the world of sports, it’s also been found that athletes who followed a training plan based on their genetics improved their performance more than athletes following generic plans or plans mis-matched to their DNA.

Despite these encouraging outcomes, there’s an important caveat here. Genetically-tailored plans need to be developed by experienced and qualified professionals. Otherwise, you can end up getting the wrong genetic interpretation and the wrong recommendations. Choosing a trusted company with strong, scientific foundations is the best way to guarantee that a genetically-tailored plan is relevant, reliable and useful.

A Piece of the Puzzle

A genetically-tailored approach can be useful for every single person. We are all different. We eat differently, exercise differently and react to medicines in different ways. The concept of personalised health plans makes perfect sense.

But your DNA is complex because large number of genes can work together to influence an outcome and currently we only have reliable research into a fraction of them.

Finally, you must remember that DNA is only one piece of the puzzle. Your lifestyle, environment and history all play crucial roles in determining who you are and how you act. So, even though your DNA can give you insights into what makes you different and what you can do to become the best version of yourself, it’s not a silver bullet.

Once you understand your DNA, you need the dedication and commitment to put your new-found knowledge into practice in order to get the results that you want.

What makes these two sisters different?

Two sisters, close in every way but body size, recently took a myDNA diet and fitness test to get answers to some heavy questions. Is there a genetic reason Rachael easily gains weight and Vanessa doesn’t? What can Rachael do to be healthier and happier with the way she looks?

They wondered if the results would change the way they felt about themselves – or fuel a sibling rivalry. They didn’t have to wait long to find out.

The results are in

It began like a game of snap. The first three genes listed in their reports – the ones that affect weight and appetite, body size and weight regain, and fat storage – were identical. It’s only natural that two sisters would have many of the same gene variants; they do share parents. But that doesn’t explain why they look so different…

Perhaps it’s their ADIPOQ gene. This fat burner is where their genetic results diverge. While Vanessa’s variant is less favourable; Rachael’s is the least favourable.

Rachael’s ADIPOQ gene type produces reduced levels of the fat-burning hormone adiponectin. This means she has double the chance of being obese, and excess weight may cause her adiponectin levels to drop further. She’s also more likely to have a higher BMI and carry weight around the middle.

“That’s OK,” says Rachael, as she takes in that information. “It explains a lot; it’s really just another reason to lose some weight.”

Different exercise profiles

It was the in the fitness report that the difference between the sisters became more evident.

Rachael’s fitness report shows she’s an all-rounder, evenly balanced between power and endurance. But Rachael’s genetic profile shows she has a greater risk of soft tissue injury during exercise – something she’d already learned the hard way. “I tore ligaments a few years ago and it took a long time to heal,” she says.

“When I exercised after my injury, I’d still get twinges of pain; get nervous and stop,” she says. “I was too timid to do the sports like running or beach volleyball that I used to do and got out of the habit.”

Vanessa’s fitness results show she’s all power with little endurance, which make sense to her: “It’s true, I’ve never been able to run long distances – but I’ve always built muscle easily!”

Easy answers

While your DNA influences your appetite, how fast you burn calories, or your body fat distribution; it’s what you eat and what you do – food vs exercise – that primarily determines weight.

The sisters knew this but seemed to be looking for reassurance, as Rachael explains: “I wasn’t surprised by my results. Eight years ago, I was really skinny, so I suspected my weight gain was more because of my lifestyle than my DNA, but it was really helpful to make sure.”

With the knowledge gained from their diet and fitness reports, the women started to examine their lifestyles and health and fitness choices, now understanding what would work best for their unique body and how it was likely to respond.

Step up

On top of her injury, Rachael has a job which means driving an hour each way and sitting at a desk all day. There’s a supermarket downstairs, so while she brings in a salad or buys sushi for lunch, she admits it’s easy to grab a treat. Clocking up an average of 3,000 daily steps isn’t going to balance that out.

While Vanessa has gained a couple of kilos since having kids, she’s exercising every day without even thinking about it. Her twice-daily sprint to school, kinder or weekend sports clocks up 15,000+ steps with very little effort.

Put yourself first

As a mum with two young kids, Vanessa cooks balanced meals mainly for the kids’ benefit. Meanwhile, Rachael is single. She rustles up light, colourful meals when she’s cooking for friends and family, but admits it’s tempting to go for big, quick and easy, like pasta, when eating solo.

What next?

Armed with their results, the sisters are making changes. Vanessa’s joined ballet and yoga classes to use her natural athletic power and work on her flexibility.

Rachael has started ordering some healthy home deliveries to help reduce her portion sizes and free-up time to exercise. She’s also roped in a friend to exercise with. The report has helped her feel more empowered to take control of her health and wellbeing. It’s a huge step in the right direction, and hopefully weight loss will follow.

Most importantly, the myDNA experience has helped the sisters to speak honestly to each other about living a healthier life.

Protein sources for vegetarians

When I talk to our customers at myDNA, I come across many vegetarians or vegans who often ask for advice on how to best reach the protein targets in their recommended diet.

If you’re a vegetarian or someone who’s cutting back on meat or animal-based products you might be wondering if you are getting enough protein?

What are proteins and why are they so important?

Proteins are essential macronutrients that our body needs to function properly. Our body uses proteins as building materials for growth and maintenance, as enzymes, as hormones, as transporters, as antibodies and for many other roles.

Proteins are made up of small molecules called amino acids that are joined together into chains. There are about 20 amino acids that, for humans, fall into two categories: essential and non-essential. Our body can make the 11 non-essential amino acids fairly easily, but we can only get the 9 essential amino acids from the foods we eat.

Any protein that contains the essential 9 amino acids in sufficient amounts is considered a “complete” protein. Plenty of animal products, like meat, eggs and dairy, are complete proteins, but most plant products are “incomplete” because they’ll either be missing some essential amino acids, or they won’t have enough of them. This is the reason people with plant-based diets may need to pay more attention to their protein intake.

So what foods should I be eating?

Although not many plant products are complete proteins, there are a few protein superstars. The oft-mispronounced quinoa (keen-wah) is a complete protein source that’s also packed full of iron, zinc, folate, magnesium, manganese and fibre. A single cup of cooked quinoa is about 8g of protein.

Soy products like tofu and tempeh are also great sources of complete protein. You can experiment with different ways of marinating and cooking them to find a style that works for you.

If you’d rather avoid soy, you can still mix and match foods across the day to ensure that you’re getting all 9 essential amino acids. For example, lots of legumes have high levels of the amino acids lysine and isoleucine, but low levels of the amino acids methionine and tryptophan, whereas grains tend to have the opposite make-up. So, if you wanted to make sure you were getting enough of both, you could try including for example both rice and beans in your diet.

Not every meal you eat needs to have all the essential amino acids, but it’s good to try and make sure you get enough across the day.

In addition to legumes and grains, plenty of other plant-based foods like nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens are full of protein. If you’re eating a varied and well-balanced diet, you should meet your protein needs without too much difficulty. If you’re eating some animal products like dairy or eggs, it’s even easier.

It’s important to keep in mind that, although you should be able to meet your protein requirements on a vegetarian or vegan diet, you also need to pay attention to other key nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and zinc that are essential for your body’s function.

How hard is it to get enough protein?

Despite concerns about getting enough protein from a plant-based diet, it really isn’t that difficult. If you eat enough of the right foods, these diets are also suitable during all stages of life, even for athletes.

Please be aware that in some situations, like in particular stages of life or if you exercise a lot, you may need more protein to sustain growth, repair tissues and build muscles.

If you need help, a nutritionist or dietitian can help you develop a food plan that ensures you get the amount of protein appropriate for your needs.

5 reasons we eat that have nothing to do with hunger

Food gives us energy, brings people together, and makes us feel good. The first bite of something delicious is one of life’s great joys. But this feel-good factor can also have us eating for many reasons other than true hunger.

So, what are some the reasons why we eat?

Reason 1: It’s there

Can’t go to the movies without hitting the candy bar? What about walking past a platter at a party? We often eat not because we’re hungry, but because food is there.

Another problem is right in front of us – our portions. You may be surprised to discover what a recommended portion size actually looks like. Think 100g of chicken, half a potato, or just a quarter of an avocado. Most of us are loading way too much onto our plates.

Studies have also found that the bigger your plate the more you’ll eat. It’s an evolutionary hangover from the days when food was scarce.

So what can you do?

  • Research portion sizes.
  • Use a smaller bowl or plate so your meal looks bigger.
  • Stand with your back to the food at a party.

Reason 2: Stress

Hands up if you take your frustrations out on food? Prolonged high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can increase our appetite and make us crave carbs, sweets and fats. Argh!

Being more mindful when we’re eating can helps us to avoid mindless snacking. This means sitting at the table for meals and snacks and eating slowly.

You can also take a break, a few deep breaths and have a glass of water. This will help the feeling of stress and ‘hunger’ to pass.

Reason 3: Boredom

It’s tempting to fill time with food. Instead, follow that old childhood advice and go outside, phone a friend, read a book – whatever you like! Busy hands won’t be as tempted to grab snacks.

Another tip is to avoid eating in front of the TV. If your mind associates the two activities, you could start to feel hungry every time you relax in front of the telly.

Reason 4: Comfort eating

We’ve probably all used food as therapy at some point. When we’re feeling rubbish, it’s tempting to turn to junk food to satisfy our emotional needs. And there’s no harm in the occasional treat.

However, if you are going to comfort eat, try to enjoy healthier snacks, like fruit and nuts, knowing that you’re satisfying a momentary craving and being good to your body too.

If you’re worried about emotional eating, it’s important to seek the advice of a health professional.

Reason 5: Being social

Are we all having dessert? It’s easy to give in to social pressure to order a dessert even if you’d rather not.

A good idea is to order a herbal tea to quench your thirst for something sweet. But if you can’t resist, split a dessert with someone and share the calories too.

Is hunger in your DNA?

Watching what we eat isn’t enough. We need to be mindful of why we eat. There are plenty of emotional reasons for eating, but did you know that your genes could also be behind your insatiable appetite?

A myDNA Nutrition and Fitness report will tell you if you have one of the gene variants that increase appetite and cravings for sugary and fatty foods. Armed with that knowledge, you can take back control of your diet and understand why you eat in a powerful new way.

Disclaimer

This article does not provide medical or dietary advice – it only seeks to provide opinions. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material, contained in this article are for educational purposes only. The content is not intended in any way as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of this, or any other blog article on our website.

Two sisters put their DNA to the test

Last weekend, I went to my mum’s house to take a DNA test with my sister. We’ve got no doubt who our parents are, but they still might have some explaining to do…

Growing up, my little sister Rachael was always the skinny one: cute as a button; thin as a rake. But in her early twenties, each year brought extra kilos that have proven hard to shake.

Rachael gains weight easily and struggles to lose it. Annoyingly for her, I appear to be one of those people who can – and do – eat anything they want.

The genetic lottery

How can two people so closely related have such different bodies?

Our dad was always pretty fit. While he sported an 80s beer belly, he was a fierce tennis player, spending hours on court in the scorching summer heat. Mum was also very handy with a racket.

Sharing tall, athletic parents gave us the same genetic head start. But Rachael was the one who inherited their sporting skills; I was never much of a contender.

Rachael also eats much healthier food than I do – it’s all fresh, organic and fairly carb-free in her kitchen. I, on the other hand, was nicknamed ‘chips and dip’. Looking at our diets, you’d expect our body shapes to be the other way around.

A tricky conversation

As Rachael’s weight slowly crept up, her confidence crashed down. As we entered our thirties, I started worrying. I’d read that carrying weight around your belly can cause health issues – even if you’re a normal weight.

Rachael is a sensitive soul, and I have been scared of mentioning her weight for fear of upsetting her. Having avoided the topic for years, can I bring it up now?

Cracking the code

I discovered myDNA through a friend of a friend. She told me about the Melbourne start-up that can quickly and cheaply reveal how your genes influence your health and fitness.

I thought this could be a great way to help Rachael feel empowered to make some lifestyle changes (and start that difficult conversation). DNA analysis would tell her the foods and exercises that would best suit her unique and wonderful self, and she’d never have to be disappointed with diets that weren’t right for her again.

So I casually mentioned taking a DNA test. Rachael laughed and said: “why not!”

Taking the test

As we sat down on mum’s couch to take the test, Rachael suddenly announced: “I don’t want the fat gene!” Only then did it occur to me that I could have the ‘fat’ variant of the FTO gene, and hers could be normal. How would she feel then?

Nevertheless, we decided it was better to know. We were too curious: what do we share? Are our differences as we suspect?

We opened the bright green myDNA diet and fitness test box, swabbed our cheeks, and sent off the sample in the post.

We’ll have to wait another week for our results, but the experience has already brought us closer and we’re now having honest conversations about health and fitness.  It’s a great place to start.

Read about our results in next month’s newsletter.

How elite athletes are using DNA testing to gain an edge.

In the quest for athletic excellence, elite sports clubs are exploring new frontiers in sports training through DNA testing. As these clubs compete for supremacy, the challenge is to keep players fit and at peak performance throughout the season. Genetic testing is now being used as an important training aid that can make the difference between a successful season and an injury-ridden one.

Football clubs take the leap

Football giants Barcelona pioneered the use of DNA tests to determine personalised training regimes for their players. This was credited with keeping them largely injury free for a season. Last year, the Egyptian Football Association turned to genetic testing, hoping to maximise the performance of their players. They aren’t alone. Several English clubs have also shown interest in the idea of using DNA testing to determine injury risks to individual players.

Is genetic testing the answer to demanding sports schedules?

A recent UK study has shown that 80% of athletes and support staff showed a willingness to engage in genetic testing. This is part of a shift in approach with athletes and support staff exploring more personalised and efficient training models that reduce injury risks. This is critical as tour calendars and athletic events get more demanding.

DNA testing levels the playing field

The enthusiasm isn’t limited to elite sports circles alone. The same DNA tests used by elite clubs have now been made more cost-effective and is available to anyone interested in understanding their genetic aptitudes.

It’s not surprising that there is a rising interest in amateur athletes and sports enthusiasts. After all, who can deny the benefits of knowing what to do if you may have a higher injury risk, or if your genes could be geared towards certain sports?

7 easy food swaps for a healthier you

When you begin to make healthy changes to your diet, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you try to make radical changes to your diet, lifestyle or exercise routine overnight, it probably won’t work. But there are some small and easy changes that you can make today that will get you moving in the right direction.

1. Swap crisps for homemade popcorn

If you love having something to snack on while you go about your day, it might be tempting to reach for a pack of crisps. But you might not realise that even a small packet is almost 300 calories! Try a cup of homemade popcorn for an easy, healthy alternative that is only a third of the calories ! Just make sure you choose air-popped popcorn instead of the salty, sugary varieties that are cooked in oil.



Crisps
300 calories



Popcorn
100 calories

 

2. Swap full cream milk for skim milk

If you’re a coffee fiend who can’t start the day without a hit, there might be small changes that you can make to start the day on a healthier note. If your order of choice is a medium cappuccino, you could save around 70 calories by using skim milk instead of full cream milk. If you’re feeling adventurous, you may even want to try almond milk and save over 100 calories! With a myDNA Caffeine report, you’ll get access to our Caffeine Calculator.



Full cream medium cappuccino
165 calories



Skim milk medium cappuccino
95 calories

 

3. Swap a medium coffee for a small

If you don’t like the taste of skim milk, you can always downsize your order from a medium to a small to keep the caffeine but cut the calories. You still get the same great taste, but your waist might thank you later on. This approach can be used for plenty of other foods as well!



Medium latte
170 calories



Small latte
125 calories

 

4. Swap fruit juice for fruit

You might think that fruit juice is a healthy way to start your day, but it’s often jam-packed with sugar and empty calories. 250ml of apple juice can be up to 150 calories! What’s worse is that, although it might give you a nice sugar rush, it probably won’t make you feel full. Instead of pouring yourself a glass of juice in the morning, try reaching for an apple instead. You’ll get less sugar, more vitamins, minerals and fibre, and you’ll save at least 50 calories each time.



Apple Juice
150 calories



An Apple
100 calories

 

5. Swap muffins for raisin toast

Muffins are often a quick and easy snack to have when you want something sweet, but did you know that a single store-bought muffin can have over 500 calories? Instead, try having 2 slices of raisin toast to sate your cravings for carbs. You’ll be cutting the calories in half and avoiding heaps of sugar and saturated fat as well.



Muffin
500 calories



Raisin Toast
250 calories

 

6. Swap biscuits for muesli bars

If your midday snack is usually a couple of biscuits, you might want to consider swapping for something healthier. Just three chocolate-coated biscuits can be 225 calories and over 5g of saturated fat. Try a fruit and nut muesli bar to have less sugar, less saturated fat, more protein, and more natural ingredients. Just make sure you keep an eye on what’s in your muesli bar! Some companies are notorious for pumping them full of sugar and processed ingredients. Homemade muesli bars are the best way to go if you want to be sure that they’re healthy.



3 Biscuits
220 calories


Muesli Bar
125 calories

 

7. Swap soft drinks for water

Soft drinks are full of sugar but don’t really have any nutritional benefit. They can also be over 150 calories a pop! If you drink them often, the calories can add up quickly. Even if you’re drinking zero sugar alternatives, they can still negatively affect your metabolism and you’re probably better off giving them a pass. Water has no calories but is essential for your body. You can flavour it with citrus fruits, cucumber or anything you like. If you feel like you want a stronger flavour, you can also try herbal teas.



Soft Drink
150 calories


Water
No calories

Carbs are not the enemy

They’ve been blamed for everything from the obesity epidemic to our skyrocketing rates of diabetes and heart disease. But do they really deserve all the bad press they’re getting? What are carbohydrates and why are they getting such a bad rap?

What are carbs?

Carbohydrates are one of the main types of macromolecules that your body needs to function properly. They’re found in all fruits and vegetables, as well as pasta, bread, legumes, dairy and any foods that have sugar. Like the other main macromolecules— fat and protein—your body breaks down and processes carbohydrates for a range of different purposes. Most importantly, carbs are broken down into simple sugars like glucose that your body uses as its main source of energy.

Carbs. It’s complicated.

There are two types of carbs: simple and complex.

Simple carbs are small and easy for your body to process. Lots of processed foods contain them because they enhance flavour and help foods to last longer. When they’re in processed foods, simple sugars can make your blood sugar spike, which makes you feel drained and craving even more sugar.

Fruit and dairy also contain simple carbs, but the sugar that comes from these enters the bloodstream more slowly, so you don’t get that nasty spike in blood sugar. These foods also have vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and protein that are essential for your body, so they’re normally pretty healthy.

Complex carbs, like the name suggests, are more complex. They’re chains of sugars that have been linked together. Complex carbs include starch and fibre, which are found in vegetables, legumes and wholegrains. These carbs take longer to break down, or can’t be broken down at all, so they don’t raise your blood sugar levels as much, and they can help you feel full for longer. Foods that have complex carbs also tend to have lots of beneficial essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

Why the bad reputation?

The trouble with carbs is that it’s easy to eat too much of them. Pizza, pasta and rice are the kinds of foods that people like to indulge in. If you regularly eat a restaurant-sized serve of pasta, you will put on weight. It takes will-power to limit portion sizes and that is at the heart of the battle with carbs.

Also, some people only associate carbs with unhealthy, processed foods and refined grains like those found in white bread. They might not realise that fruit, vegetables and dairy also have them.
Your body needs the glucose that comes from carbs, but not all carbs are created equal. The types of foods that you get your carbs from can make all the difference.

So What’s the truth?

The truth is that it’s okay to eat most foods in moderation. Cutting out an entire food group from your diet may work for your short-term goals, but such a restrictive diet can be difficult to maintain, and it can ultimately be unhealthy if you’re not careful.

It’s important to keep in mind that people will process carbohydrates differently depending on a huge range of factors, including their lifestyle, microbiome (their gut bacteria) and their genetics. A diet that works for one person may not work for someone else. It’s worth taking the time to figure out what works for you.

Stay friends with carbs

If you aim for a balanced diet, keep track of your portion sizes and focus on eating fresh, unprocessed foods like vegetables and fruits, wholegrains and legumes, then carbohydrates can be an enjoyable part of every meal.

To find out more about your unique needs, order a myDNA Nutrition & Fitness Report.

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