How Genetic DNA Testing Could Unleash Your Athletic Potential

You may have seen a post a couple weeks back that I am now offering a genetic DNA test called nutrigenomix. I’ve had a lot of people asking me about this test, so I thought I should dedicate this week’s blogs to explaining nutrigenomix and how it could benefit your health and performance.

 What is nutrigenomix?

Nutrigenomix is a simple non-invasive genetic DNA test. The test results allow you to learn how to eat according to your genes. To understand this test, I’ll start with a quick lesson on genes:

A gene is a segment of DNA. Genes are made up of a sequence of nucleotides: A, C, G and T. Different combinations of these nucleotides result in different genetic variants. We inherit two copies of a gene from each parent giving us each our very own unique DNA sequence.

Genes produce proteins, which serve many different functions in the body. Some of the proteins produced by genes interact with the food, beverages and supplements we eat. Since each person has a unique set of genes, they produce slightly different proteins. As a result, each person interacts with dietary components differently. One size does not always fit all for nutrition recommendations!

A classic example of this is lactose intolerance. Based on your genetic variation for the “MCM6 gene,” you produce varying degrees of the protein that breaks down lactose found in milk and milk products. Those with the risk variant of this gene are not able to break down lactose as efficiently and feel sick when they consume too much milk products containing lactose. Nutrigenomix can test your MCM6 gene to see if you carry the risk variant for lactose intolerance.

 How can it benefit sports performance?

Based on your personalized nutrition and performance report, you can tweak certain areas of your diet with more precision in order to perform at your top level. Due to time, I can’t go into detail about every gene tested (45 genes are tested in total), but I will give some examples:

One of the genes tested is the “CYP1A2” gene. This gene produces a protein that breaks down caffeine. Based on genetic variation, some people break down caffeine more slowly than others. You may have heard that caffeine is a performance enhancer. However, individuals with this risk variant do not experience endurance performance benefits from caffeine consumption. In fact, caffeine may diminish their performance. Additionally, if your results show that you are a slow metabolizer of caffeine, you are at an increased risk of high blood pressure or heart attack if you consume over 200 mg of caffeine per day. Those who don’t have a risk variant for this gene have a lower risk of heart disease with a moderate amount of coffee consumption.

Another great example is the “GSTT1” gene. This gene produces a protein that influences the utilization of vitamin C. People with a certain risk variant of this gene have lower blood levels of vitamin C at a given vitamin C intake compared to those with the other version of this gene. If you carry the typical variation of this gene, it means you are not at an increased risk of vitamin C deficiency. Athletes with the typical variant should be cautious with vitamin C supplementation because it could potentially be counter-productive to training. Instead, they should focus on meeting Vitamin C recommendations through food sources.

One final example is the “APOA2” gene, which produces a protein that plays a role in the ability to utilize different fats. Those with the risk variant of this gene have an increased risk of developing high body fat and obesity if consuming a diet too high in saturated fats. This is important not only for the general population, but also for athletes who want an optimal body composition for performance. Those with the risk variant would benefit from substituting foods high in saturated fats with more mono and poly-unsaturated fats.

These are certainly not the only genes tested. As I mentioned, 45 different genes are tested. If you would like to see a full sample report of all tested genes, click here.

 How does the test work?

Nutrigenomix involves a quick saliva sample. No finger pricks or needles are needed. The only hard thing about the test is remembering not to eat, drink, or chew gum for the 15 minutes before the saliva collection. After I explain the test and collect the sample, I send it off to the University of Toronto. The results of your test come back about 2-3 weeks later. Together, we go over your personalized nutrition report and any implications it may have for your diet.

If you are interested in finding out more about this test, just book a free appointment (e-mail: megankuikmanRD@gmail.com) with me. We can go over the sample report together and discuss any questions that you may have!

For those of you reading this on my wordpress blog, I will soon be transferring my blogs to megankuikmanRD.ca Check out my cool new website and sign-up to receive my blog notifications!

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