The Secrets Your DNA Holds: Genetics 101
Thanks to the advances in technology, a simple saliva test can measure 602,000 pieces of a person’s DNA. This is important because everyone has some level of genetic variation in their DNA. Because variants can impact an individual’s ability to make and use different nutrients critical for circulatory, immune and even emotional health, everyone is susceptible, in their own unique way, to potential health implications.
Genes are passed from parent to child—one copy from the mother and one copy from the father—with each cell containing a set of genetic instructions. When an existing cell divides to make a new cell, it copies the set of genetic instructions. However, sometimes these instructions are copied incorrectly, like a typo, which leads to variations in the DNA sequence. This is called a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP. Most SNPs do not cause any observable differences. But the location and total number of SNPs a person has may influence their susceptibility to disease or impact how they react to certain drugs or even specific foods.
DNA researchers have discovered that the root cause of most illness is the presence of free radicals and oxidative stress. These free radicals are superoxide and peroxynitrite. There are other harmful substances such as ammonia and glutamate. These are natural products produced by the body, but genetic variations can cause individuals to have too much of them. When out of balance, these free radicals can cause cellular damage and inflammation, leading to slower rebuilding and repair of cells and ultimately faster aging and more opportunity for disease.
To compensate for these free radicals, the body makes antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione, and uses folate to rebuild and repair damaged cells.
Our inherited genetic issues may inhibit us from making enough antioxidants, cause us to produce too many oxidants, and suppress our ability to create enough folate for cell repair, which can negatively impact our health.
Through genetic saliva testing, the ability to make and use enzymes that are critical components of one’s health can be studied. Additionally, studying the combination of genes, nutrients, oxidants and antioxidants can lead to a customized nutritional protocol to help the body clean up the imbalances, and help support a more normal function right down to the mitochondrial level.
Some of the more significant enzymes that need to be looked at include:
Glutathione – detoxifies the body and controls inflammation
SOD – neutralizes the superoxide free radical
BH4 – supports the neurotransmitters and helps the body detox ammonia
Neurotransmitters – aids emotional health
• Choline – enhances liver health
• Folate – stimulates cell and neurotransmitter health
• SAMe – supports many bodily functions
• B12 – makes blood cells and supports a healthy nervous system
When in balance, these enzymes can control free radicals, keep cells healthy, and rebuild new cells effectively. As a result, individuals may look and feel younger and remain healthy and vibrant as they age.
We are never too young or old to optimize our nutritional and antioxidant status. Working with a practitioner that understands how to interpret the SNPs, enzyme function, metabolism, health issues, symptoms and lifestyle is essential to helping the body work efficiently and improving overall health. Only looking at certain SNPs and taking nutrients based on SNPs alone often times leads to little benefit, or even an increase in symptoms.
To help understand how your DNA impacts your health, watch the introductory video at GetToKnowYourDNA.com.
Dr. Gary Kracoff is a naturopathic doctor and registered pharmacist at Johnson Compounding and Wellness Center, located at 577 Main St., Waltham. For more information, call 781-893-3870 ext. 2 or visit NaturalCompounder.com.