Nutrigenetics: How Your Genes Can Unlock Better Health
Nutrigenetics: What They Are and Why They Matter
Nutrigenetics is the science of how your body responds to and uses nutrients based on your genetics. Even though all humans are made of the same basic composition, our individual genes play a crucial role in determining how our bodies absorb and use various vitamins, minerals, and other dietary components.
Breaking It Down
Everyone has 46 chromosomes, 23 inherited from their mother and 23 inherited from their father. Each chromosome is made up of DNA segments called genes. The sequence of DNA within each gene contains instructions for making the proteins that help our bodies function.
By using an at-home mouth swab, we are able to look at your genetic nutrition risks by assessing genes that have something called SNPs. To put it simply, if you imagine the DNA sequence as a sentence (ATCG), a SNP is like a small typo in one word—just one letter changes (ACTG). This subtle alteration in the genetic code can have an impact on how our bodies function and respond to various factors, including nutrition.
Nutrigenetics can provide insights into understanding one's genetic predisposition and potential risks. It’s important to note that genetics are simply directional meaning they give us an understanding of what could happen but don’t tell us what definitely will. After receiving your nutrigenetics test results, we plug them into our patent-pending, AI-enabled algorithm, which lets us develop ultra-personalized dietary recommendations based on your unique needs.
Let’s spotlight a few vitamins and nutrients we examine through nutrigenetic testing to provide personalized nutrition recommendations.
What We Measure
B12 helps the brain and nervous system function properly and works closely with folate to form red blood cells. It plays a key role in a process called methylation, which influences how genes are activated or suppressed and adequate B12 levels are vital for this process to occur. Research shows that some individuals are at a greater risk than others for vitamin B12 deficiency based on a gene called FUT2. Those who follow a vegetarian diet and have this specific gene variant are twice as likely to have low levels of B12.
Some signs of B12 deficiency include fatigue, weakness, and irritability. Best sources include animal products like meat, fish and dairy. Fortified cereals and nutritional yeast are safe for vegans but supplementations may be required to achieve optimal levels.
Folate is necessary for cell growth and development and plays a big role in brain and heart health as well as mood regulation and healthy aging. Low levels of folate have been associated with elevations in an amino acid called homocysteine, which may increase risk of heart disease and stroke. About 30-40% of Americans may have a form of the genetic variant known as MTHFR, which can affect the way the body processes folate. Individuals with this genetic variant have lower circulating levels of folate and higher circulating levels of homocysteine. Through nutrigenetic testing we are able to determine if you are at greater risk of folate deficiency and recommend adequate intakes to prevent deficiency.
Folate rich foods include beans, darky leafy greens, whole grains like quinoa and millet, bananas, and peas. Those who have an elevated risk of folate deficiency may need to supplement with a multivitamin that contains a methylated form of folate, which is better absorbed in our bodies.
Choline is found in all cells throughout the body, providing a vital structural component to cell membranes. It also supports the liver by transporting fats and preventing fat accumulation. Individuals with the PEMT gene variant may have a reduced ability to convert other substances into choline. This genetic variation could potentially impact choline levels in the body, emphasizing the importance of incorporating choline-rich foods or supplements into the diet to ensure optimal health and well-being. Research has found that those with the PEMT gene are 25 times more likely to show signs of organ dysfunction especially when consuming a low-choline diet.
Signs of choline deficiency include brain fog, memory issues and low energy levels. Top food sources include eggs, beef, soybeans, chicken, and kidney beans.
Vitamin D and calcium work together to optimize bone health and play an important role in immune function and muscle recovery. Low Vitamin D can contribute to cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, and decreased bone density. Those who have a specific gene variant are at an increased risk for deficiency because they are unable to convert Vitamin D from sunlight or food into the proper form that our bodies need.
Through your test results and other risk factors including age, weight, medications, skin pigmentation, season, and geographic location, the Ahara algorithm recommends precise vitamin D dosage to optimize your levels.
If you are at an elevated risk for Vitamin D deficiency you may require an additional 1,000 IU daily, especially during months of low sunlight. Signs of deficiency include brain fog, fatigue, PMS, and frequent sickness. Very few food sources contain adequate amounts of Vitamin D, so it’s important to focus on sunlight exposure and supplementation.
How to take the test:
The Nutrigenetics Panel is an at-home mouth swab test. After becoming an Advanced or Premium Plan user, you will be mailed a kit that contains:
- Sterile swabs
- Laboratory test tube
- Return shipping envelope
Read the instructions carefully. Then, use the sterile swab to collect a saliva sample from the inside of one of your cheeks or from underneath your tongue. Place your sample into the laboratory test tube, close the test tube lid, and put your sample into the return shipping envelope.
You will be notified by email when your test results are available in your Ahara My Data dashboard.
Ready to explore your nutrigenetics? Grab our Nutrition Test Bundle for just $495 (a $200 discount!) Expires: 12/24/23 at 11:59pm PST