The science behind our DNA tests: What is DNA and why is it important?

We've all got those areas in our lives that we’d like to change – whether it’s getting fitter, eating healthier, or having clearer skin. How much of it is down to our environment and lifestyle choices, and how much is within our own genetic makeup? First you need to understand what DNA is and why DNA is so important.

Lifestyle choices and environment have a big influence on the way we are, but on a unique level, our genetics play a major part in what impacts us as individuals. DNA genetic testing can reveal insights into how your genes are affecting your responses to elements of your lifestyle and environment.

By understanding more about your DNA, you can make informed lifestyle choices and take control of your own health, fitness and wellbeing.

What is DNA? - The science bit

DNA is the genetic material, or instructions, that makes us who we are. It determines certain traits, such as our height and eye colour, as well as how our bodies function. All the DNA contained within a cell gives us enough information to serve as a blueprint for a human!

You might recognise DNA as the ladder-shaped ‘double helix’ molecule – each rung of this ladder is made from interlocking units called bases. These are named with the four letters A, T, G and C.

Each of the 50 trillion cells that make up your body contains a complete set of instructions (DNA) that make you who you are. The long molecules of DNA in your cells are organised into 23 pairs of chromosomes that you inherit from your parents (half from your mother, the other half from your father.)

These chromosomes are further organised into short segments of DNA called genes that instruct your cells on how to function. Cells take instructions from the genes on how to make proteins. These proteins cause the cell to produce a certain hair colour and make your body react in a certain manner. Depending on the makeup of your genes (the A, C, T and G bases), your DNA will create different proteins making your cells react in different ways.

Got that? We told you it was the science bit…!

DNA double helix graphic

Why is DNA so important?

It's your genetic coding that determines how your body looks and functions, whilst also separating you from any other human being.

Each of your body's cells is made from an existing cell dividing in two – copying its DNA to ensure the new cell has a complete set of instructions. Sometimes there are errors in the copying leading to variations in your DNA sequence. These are called single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs (commonly known as ‘snips’).

The difference in DNA can result in different proteins being created within the new cells, and may ultimately determine the biological differences between each human being. For example, some SNPs can change your appearance while others may determine your health. Sometimes SNPs can have no effect whatsoever, and sometimes they can result in positive or negative effects on how the body functions.

Different variations in your genetics can determine things such as whether you’re likely to have food intolerances, vitamin deficiencies, how you metabolise different parts of your diet, and which fitness and skincare regimes are likely to work for you.

By knowing which variations of genes you have, you can decide to make changes to your lifestyle to optimise your health and wellbeing. That’s why DNA is so important!

Can we change things defined by our genetics?

You might think that you can’t change anything about your genes – but when combined with other external factors – such as your diet or medication – the ‘observable traits’ in your genes, or phenotypes, can be managed in a way that helps you get the best out of you.

For example, if you know that you are a slow metaboliser of caffeine, you can choose whether or not to have a coffee late in the evening, or whether it might be likely to disrupt your sleep. You can learn what vitamins your body is more likely to be lacking, so you can enhance your diet to suit your unique nutrition needs. Or if you knew that you were genetically more likely to respond to high intensity exercises that require short, sharp bursts of power over endurance sports like long distance running , you can adjust your fitness plan accordingly.

personal trainer running exercise genetics

We’re starting to understand a lot more about how SNPs affect your phenotype and how this information can help us to better understand our health and wellbeing.

Home DNA testing kits help you take control

Nowadays, you can use DNA testing kits in the comfort of your own home. Our home DNA test can help you to learn more about how your body responds to your diet, and how your metabolism plays a role. It can help you to improve your fitness plan to achieve your goals and how to get the best from your skincare regime. With our DNA testing kits, it couldn’t be simpler to discover the inner you.

Order your kit today