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

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

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