Your guide to nutrition DNA testing

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The world of genetic testing has exploded in recent years. There are now home testing kits like our Evergreen Life DNA Test, that can tell you about your health and, as we’ll explore here, how your diet can be tailored to suit your genes.

The aim of nutrition DNA testing is to give you information and recommendations on how to create the best diet for you, using the most personal thing about you: your genetics. This is at a time when many of us are trying to be as healthy as possible. Tailoring your diet to your DNA and discovering from your own body which diet would be most appropriate for you can be a positive step to take in your bid to be healthier. Here, we explore what you can expect from nutrition DNA testing, and how it plays a part in your nutritional and overall health.

How does our nutrition DNA testing work?

The process of actually taking a home nutrition DNA test is incredibly simple. All it takes is a few easy steps:

  • You provide a DNA sample by spitting into a tube. If you’re doing an Evergreen Life DNA Test, you should also link your test to your Evergreen Life app by following the instructions in the box. You’ll then be asked to send it off in the post.
  • Your DNA will be analysed, searching for small markers in your DNA called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms or SNPs, pronounced “Snips”. For more information please read our article on Understanding DNA testing terminology.
  • Decades of genetic research has revealed significant links between individual SNPs and impacts on health and wellbeing. While some SNPs can actually reveal an increased likelihood of contracting certain diseases, our Evergreen Life DNA Test doesn't analyse for these, just as it doesn’t test for ancestry. This is because we want to focus on offering insights that you can do something about to improve your health.
  • Having a certain SNP does not mean the linked outcome is certain; it merely suggests it's more likely. The aim is for you to be more informed when deciding on lifestyle behaviours and therefore more in control of your health and wellbeing.
  • The information collected from the analysis we do is used to create a report about which SNPs you have. This could include genes which increase the likelihood of lactose intolerance, the ability to metabolise caffeine more quickly, craving sugar or salt, being deficient in certain vitamins, and more.
  • You’ll be sent recommendations on how you may want to structure your diet based on the results of your DNA analysis. You may find that some SNPs and their associated traits contradict each other. Don’t worry, your Evergreen Life DNA Test results help you navigate the science by giving you a balanced summary that supports you to weigh up what most of the SNPs are pointing to and make changes based on the result that comes up most frequently.
Our Evergreen Life DNA Test goes beyond nutrition testing, providing actionable insights into Fitness, Metabolism, Skin and Happiness as well as Diet. For more information, please read our article on everything you need to know about our health DNA testing.

What your Evergreen Life DNA Test will tell you

The Diet category of our DNA test provides practical insights into a number of areas, as well as what you can do to improve your diet:

  • Tendency to overeat - Whether you’re more likely to have a tendency to overeat.
  • Likelihood for sugar craving - Whether you’re more likely to have a ‘sweet tooth’.
  • Likelihood for salt craving - Whether you’re more likely to be sensitive to bitter tastes and mask them with salty foods.
  • Rise of lactose intolerance - Whether you’re more likely to be lactose intolerant.
  • Alcohol flush reaction - Whether you’re more likely to have an adverse reaction to alcohol via flushing as a result of alcohol metabolism.
  • Caffeine consumption - Whether you’re more likely to have a higher or a lower caffeine consumption.
  • Caffeine metabolism - Whether you’re more likely to metabolise caffeine faster, or slower, where consuming caffeine later at night may affect your sleep.
  • Vitamin deficiency - Whether you’re likely to carry a risk of a deficiency in the following vitamins:
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6
  • Folate

Listen to your DNA

Although the ideas of personalised nutrition and nutrition DNA testing are relatively new, genes are certainly not irrelevant when it comes to your diet. For example, we know that they play a role in people developing type 2 diabetes, a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high. While, type 2 diabetes is thought to have a strong genetic component, environmental factors, such as a higher sugar intake or an inactive lifestyle, can result in obesity, which is a risk factor of the condition, so also play a strong role in its development. Furthermore, some research suggests that dietary change alone can actually prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in at risk patients.

Similarly, lactose intolerance has been found to be caused by an inherited genetic trait, where symptoms can be managed through diet changes. Some evidence has also suggested that genetic variants can play a role in people’s response to a specific kind of diet, and they could also determine whether people have a tendency towards obesity.

So, whilst there are still other factors you should consider - as we’ll touch on next - if there's something that your DNA tells you, tailoring your diet by DNA by making well informed changes to what you eat can be a great step towards being as healthy as possible.

Other factors to consider when tailoring your diet by DNA

Your DNA is a huge part of who you are - you wouldn’t look the way you do without it! - but it's just one of several factors to consider when you plan out the best diet for yourself. Genetics are only one factor that influence your diet. Culture, religion, income, and personal preference also influence how and what you eat and drink.

How you live your life also plays an integral role in your nutrition. Are you trying to lose weight by limiting your calorie intake? Are you training and building muscle and are therefore increasing your protein intake? Are you breastfeeding and have noticed a reaction in your baby when you eat dairy products? These examples all have an influence on how and when you eat.

There’s also the individual makeup of friendly bacteria living in your digestive system to consider, called your gut microbiome, and how these bacteria react to particular foods. If your finances or where you live make it difficult to buy healthy foods, that’ll, of course, also affect your health. There’s certainly a lot to think about.

All in all, whilst nutritional DNA testing may not be enough to give you the full picture for crafting a healthy diet, it still has a strong part to play. Use the results from your DNA test to form the foundation of your dietary behaviours, with trial and error and your lifestyle informing how you fill in those gaps.

At the end of the day, our goal here at Evergreen Life is to help you feel happier and healthier for longer. For us to help you succeed in that, we need to take a look at and address not only your genetics, but also help you make lifestyle and environmental changes that work for you, so you can achieve your goals.

References

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Written by
Dr. Farrah Leigh Winterbottom

Meet Dr. Farrah Leigh Winterbottom, Head of Scientific Testing and our Genetic Expert at Evergreen Life.

Article updated:
January 21, 2022
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