Why a Generic Health Plan Isn’t Enough

You're unique, your genetics are unique, so why follow a generic health plan?

01 May, 2020

Genetics

Wellness

In celebration of National DNA Day, we thought we’d address a common question we receive when it comes to personalised wellness and genetics: Why DNA?

We’ve been talking about the benefits of genetically tailored health plans for the best part of five years, and in that time we’ve seen an exponential rise in the volume of tests available, while the accuracy of the research and the cost of entry for consumers has only strengthened in their favor.

That’s all well and good, but with so many more common options, and a laundry list of things you know you should be doing, analyzing your DNA for secrets to help you better manage your nutrition, fitness, vitamin levels, prescription medicines or skin care still seems a little unnecessary, right? Not necessarily. Here are some facts for you to consider.

a family of 5 lying together on the grass

Why is DNA important?

The evidence is rich and growing stronger – today we know that genetics can be responsible for up to 80% of our health outcomes. So with such an impact, why would you settle for the same recipes or exercises as someone with completely different genes?

When it comes to weight loss, FTO is one of the most studied genes. In the myDNA Weight Management insights, this is the one relating to Appetite and Weight, and it’s the gene most tightly linked with Obesity, with the AT and AA variations having a 20-60% higher chance of becoming overweight or obese.

But, as we say, your DNA is not your destiny. Numerous studies covering 1000s of participants have shown that a protein-rich diet for those carrying the AT and AA genotypes (68% of myDNA members) can result in great weight loss benefits. Similarly, a meta-analysis of 10 studies found that those with the AT and AA genotypes lost more weight than others by exercising regularly.

In saying that, the classic weight loss method of eating less and moving more is mostly beneficial for people carrying a specific ADIPOQ variant. Those with the GG genotype (found in 54% of myDNA members) will burn more fat than others, simply by lowering the calories they consume!

When it comes to exercise, a study completed in 2016 found athletic improvements were tripled over an 8-week period when the training program (high or low intensity) was matched to the genetic profile. Our genetic analysis matches members to a Power or Endurance profile, before matching them with the appropriate DNA-powered training program, in line with their fitness goals. In fact, in 2019 we ran a challenge among our members in which 75% of participants experienced positive health outcomes over the eight-week period!

Following these studies there has been a plethora of genetic research with professional athletes, from the UK Olympic Squad, to the NFL including a separate study specifically with the San Francisco 49ers, to the English Premier League and even the Egyptian Football Association.

Did you know?

Olympic sprinters often have a genetic advantage – they are 7-8 times more likely to have the ACTN3 genotype which increases muscle power potential.

PERSONALISATION IS POWER

We as humans are far more likely to follow and stick to personalised recommendations. Taking a personalised approach to your health means you’re almost twice as likely to turn the choices into habits.

In 2016 the largest ever Personalised Nutrition study was undertaken to research whether Personalised Nutrition was more effective in changing a person’s diet…. And it was! After 6 months, the data unanimously confirmed that personalized dietary advice assisted and motivated participants to eat healthier and follow a healthier lifestyle.

But this isn’t only true for our wellness. It’s been reported that humans are 1.9x as likely to follow recommendations personalised to us. At least half of the people reading this have purchased an unplanned item after it was personally recommended. Not to mention how personalised recommendations impact our daily content choices thanks to recommendations from Spotify and Netflix. Let’s be honest, Tiger King didn’t take the world by storm because it was critically acclaimed.

For myDNA’s recommendations powered by genetics, we see around a 60% of our members make positive lifestyle changes. This is in comparison to generic recommendations which see less than half follow through.

Did you know?

60% of skin is genetic. Would you not want to go the extra mile in your skin care if you’d know that more wrinkles are written in your DNA?

You’re already familiar with the science

It’s true that you’ve inherited more than your good looks from your parents! We have over 20,000 genes in our body, all of which are made up of two components: one inherited from mum, one from dad.

a diagram showing the genetic split between parents and children

But, unlike our physical traits, we know our lifestyles and living conditions can also play a role on our wellness. This means understanding our genetic predispositions to things like obesity or endurance training shouldn’t be considered a life sentence.

  • A person with AA FTO result might have a greater chance of being overweight, but, as explained above, it’s not guaranteed, particularly if you follow a recommended diet (i.e. protein rich) and exercise regularly.
  • You may be fortunate enough not to inherit the wrinkles genotype, but if you sit in the sun for the best part of your life and make lifestyle choices such as smoking cigarettes, then there’s a good chance you’ll still experience them as you get older.

No one understands this more than myDNA co-founder and pioneer of genetics in Australia, Associate Professor Les Sheffield.

Les’ vision has always been to help individuals make better health, wellness and lifestyle decisions by understanding their genetics. This journey began when he oversaw the introduction of the now standard Down’s Syndrome screening for pregnant women and has continued as he and his son, Allan Sheffield, co-founded myDNA and brought the first pharmacogenomic tests to the Australian market.

myDNA have since expanded into Nutrigenomics and, over 100,000 tests later, have continued to build upon Les’ vision, partnering with hospitals around the world to further understand the role of genetics in our lives.

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