Is it Worth Testing Your DNA for Diet and Fitness?

One of the latest developments or trends in the health industry is the ability to have your DNA tested to mark up specific genetic traits that you may or may not possess. As a biologist, I find the advances in genetic research, frankly mind boggling. In 2003, after a 13 year process, the full human genome was mapped. That’s 13 years to find every single gene that humans possess, and cost billions. Now it costs roughly £1000, and many companies are offering testing of specific parts of your DNA for around the £150-200 mark. In one of my genetics modules, my lecturer showed us some of the results of the wide-spectrum DNA test that he had undergone. Within a range of accuracy, he was able to show us his genetic links to different parts of the world, his likelihood of developing certain conditions, even the percentage of neanderthal DNA in his genome (yep, really). I have to admit, genetics hurts my brain a little but I love reading and learning about it, especially as the field becomes more sophisticated.

The next step in genetics is to utilise the information to optimise our health, and so now it is possible to take a number of tests that offer to flag up potential intolerances, which form of exercise is best for you an so on. But are they actually worth it? When iamYiam got in touch with me wanting to share their story with me, I decided it was time to get digging.

First, a little background about iamYiam: iamYiam is an award winning preventative health service, utilising genetics and current health research to deliver a personalised service. Their database matches individuals with specific activity and nutritional plans based on their DNA to prevent future health problems. iamYiam looks at both nutritional and exercise-based traits to give the whole picture of your lifestyle-related health. With a five week turnaround, iamYiam take DNA amplified from a saliva sample and look at a set of your health traits such as carbohydrate, fibre and protein response, sensitivity to salt, saturated fat and caffeine, potential intolerances, aerobic capacity and lactate threshold. These traits are matched against goals set via an online questionnaire, and an activity and nutrient plan are formed for you. iamYiam then offers further support, with a list of healthcare professionals on their website.

Benefits of DNA Testing:

Put simply, DNA testing is an easy way to learn about your health. Without it, a fair amount of trial and error is needed to try and pinpoint your sweet spot of diet, exercise and lifestyle. We know that some people tend to do better on higher levels of carbohydrates than others, and that some are better predisposition towards endurance sports that short, high intensity training. Whilst there is a lot to say for really getting to know your body,with so many factors influencing health, it can be a minefield, and DNA testing certainly makes things much clearer.

When combined with health goals (via a questionnaire, such as iamYiam’s, speaking to a doctor or from personal preference) having a DNA health profile allows you to follow a health plan specific to you from the get go. Whether your goal is weight loss, physical performance, or well-rounded, sustainable health, having a greater insight into your unique traits can definitely aid in this. 

Things to consider:

Firstly, there’s the cost. Do you really want to spend up to £200 just to check if you should be eating gluten and going for an extra run per week? If  you are interested in looking at multiple traits then potentially a test will be better value for money than if your interest is in just a single trait. Then there is the question of accuracy -if you take several tests, you many notice variation within the results. The science isn’t perfect yet, so I would use your results as a starting point rather than a hard and fast rule. DNA tests are a set of results, not a prescription, so you are allowed to experiment! 

Combining contemporary scientific research with traditional health practices, iamYiam has already been recognised in its field and awarded the Seal of Excellence for Research and Innovation from the European Commission in Aug 2016 and named the Leading Luxury Trend by FORBES Mag in January 2017. Since its inception, iamYiam continues to grow and has already attracted over 8,000 members.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.