Health

Gene Genius: Is genetic testing the answer to a healthier body?

December 9th 2016 / Susannah Taylor

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Pure Genetic Lifestyle is a new company that tests your DNA, then delivers you an enormous, in-depth, bespoke report on every aspect of your health. Susannah Taylor discovers what she’s really made of

How often have you been to the doctor and are sure they haven’t got your diagnosis right, or you feel they palmed you off with one type of medication when you were sure you needed another? Are there elements of your health - like the fact you get bloated when you eat broccoli, or the way you put on weight faster than your friends who eat less – that you have never really understood? Have you ever wished that you could take your healthcare into your own hands but feel you lack the knowledge to do so?

If you answered yes to any of the above then Pure Genetic Lifestyle might be of interest. Just three swabs of saliva are all that’s needed from this hi-tech DNA testing business to provide you with scientific insight into every tiny element of your health so you can be better informed about your body, your mind and the choices you make for the rest of your life.

How does Pure Genetic Lifestyle work?

Pure Genetic Lifestyle tests your DNA without you ever having to leave your desk. They will send you three swabs in the post which you then send off to a genetics lab in Austria. According to founder Maarten Van Dijk, this is one of only four labs in the world who specialise in preventative healthcare. Here, your saliva is screened and 426 of your genes are tested for vital health information or genetic variations. A lengthy report is then returned to you online and printed beautifully in your own, perfect bound personalised ‘This Is Your Life’ style white book. The results are absolutely fascinating, although if I’m honest a bit alarming at times (more of that later).

No more self diagnosis - you can discover once and for all if you are predisposed to a glutEN or lactose intolerance

What does the test provide you with?

What does it not provide you with more like… There’s information on breast cancer and whether you’re at risk of developing it (I know, scary), plus a section on cardiovascular health and whether you’re likely to develop heart disease. You can see if you’re at risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), and discover how well you metabolise toxic pollutants (such as alcohol) or how quickly caffeine is broken down in your body. If you are at risk of anything serious you will also receive information on how to prevent the onset of that disease, but more of that later.

What else? The report will inform you if you are at risk of developing thrombosis in pregnancy, whether type 2 diabetes is likely to creep up on you in life and even where you score on the scale of developing Alzheimer's (gulp). You can see your risk of osteoporosis, periodontitis, inflammatory joint diseases, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Wonder if you should be avoiding gluten? No more self diagnosis - you can discover once and for all if you are predisposed to a gluten or lactose intolerance, and whether you're at risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease. What if you don't want to know if you're at risk of Alzheimer's, for example? No problem - you can request not to be informed on that count.

It doesn’t end there – it will tell you how you may react to HRT, not only that but there is even an extensive list of drugs (from antidepressants to allergy medicines to sleeping pills) and it will tell you how well that drug is broken down in your body and whether an alternative to that drug may be more suited to you.

The last section of the book covers your weight and food. My report says I am sensitive to fat - something I have never thought about before - it also tells me that I need to burn 327 calories a day for weight loss. It even informs me that my hunger gene is on the weak side. There’s a daily meal planner of foods I should eat in order to lose weight and snacks I can eat an endless amount of (mostly vegetables!). There’s even an enormous section on nutrigenetics and information on which food types and vitamins I should increase or decrease according to my DNA. My tests tell me to eat more magnesium, vitamin D, Bs and C among others.

Last but not least there are 33 pages listing 1000 food types with a rating as to how good they are for you personally. In my report for example there is extensive detail as to which fish are good for me (tuna, lobster and halibut amongst many others), which meats are bad (all sausages, mutton chops and lamb if you’re thinking of inviting me over for a meat hot pot). All fascinating stuff.

Pure Genetic Lifestyle will only assess issues that we can do something about

My results

First things first, you are probably thinking that all this information could freak a woman out. You would be right. My score for potential hypertension (high blood pressure) is off the scale, my risk of developing coronary heart disease is elevated, my risk of breast cancer is around average and my risk of developing Alzheimer's is pretty high. There are a hell of a lot of results that are very low but this didn’t stop me feeling pretty anxious at the results. Van Dijk reassures me. “This is not saying it’s going to happen, but it assesses your risk according to what your genes have told us,” he says. “The risk is not as important as the preventative measures we then give you.” These things may never happen at all, he explains, but isn’t it better to know than not know so that I can do something about it? If anything it will make me live a much healthier life.

Van Dijk also stresses that Pure Genetic Lifestyle will only assess issues that we can do something about, therefore with every result comes a page of information about how I can reduce the likelihood of developing that disease. If you are really worried then Pure Genetics also offer online support.

What else?

The test also confirmed some things I’ve always suspected about my health – that I’m not predisposed to a gluten or lactose intolerance (my stomach seems pretty strong on that front), that I have a weak sense of hunger and that I don’t tend to eat a high calorie diet (true, I don’t eat a huge amount and never have.) It also says I have a low genetic tendency to obesity which may be correct as I have always been a size 10.

There were other things that really surprised me – one being that according to my genes I barely gain weight from carbohydrates, but that I do from fat. I find this fascinating since I don’t eat a lot of starchy carbs.

You may be thinking…

There are many questions I asked Van Dijk about this test, one of them being the privacy of the report. How do I know my DNA results aren’t being sold to other companies? He reassures me, “Even Pure Genetic Lifestyle doesn’t know your profile, it is only accessible by you. After the analysis we destroy your DNA. The highest data protection is used to be as secure as possible,” he says.

Other questions were 'How do I know the results are correct?'. Van Dijk assures me that the results are 99.7% accurate. And finally, "Should I have my genes tested again at different times of my life?" The answer to that is no. Van Dijk explains that your genes don't change throughout life, your DNA will stay the same, so your hereditary risk of disease is the same.

State-of-the-art supplements

Pure Genetic Lifestyle have also created an amazing supplements range off the back of your nutritional results. Having calculated which vitamins and minerals you don’t absorb well they will provide you with a monthly vitamin service completely tailored to you. Now these aren’t ordinary looking capsules - these vitamins come looking like tiny hundreds and thousands which you knock back like a shot from the scoop provided. Each different coloured boule is a different vitamin you need according to your genes – ingeniously, some are slow released to allow other vitamins to be absorbed first.

What’s the damage?

A full health and nutrition analysis is £1,275. For this you receive an incredible bound book featuring all this in-depth information. It costs £725 for just the nutrition analysis and then £89 per month for membership and vitamin ‘hundreds and thousands’.

My final thoughts

This report is literally fascinating. Most of us go through life thinking we are the same as, say, the person that lives next door to us, but the reality is that we are very, very different. We all consist of genetic variations that can affect our immune system, our capacity to exercise, that increase our risk of a heart attack or give us bad eyesight for example. This test can identify these existing variations of our genes which gives us the choice to act and do what we can to prevent the onset of that problem.

I don't see the fact that I'm higher on the Alzheimer's scale to be a worry, for example - I will do all I can to prevent it from now on. The test is expensive yes, but it puts the future of our health in our hands, which is priceless.

Find out more at puregeneticlifestyle.com

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