Sunday, 9 June 2013

21st Century Technology Here Now! A DNA Mouth Swab Test Designed for the Fitness Industry!

Are you struggling to achieve your results? Perhaps your training has plateaued and you are looking for some answers? Or do you suspect that there might be something else going on but you just can't quite put your finger on it? In the 21st Century with huge steps in scientific advances, it's quite possible now to be able to put your finger on exactly what may be holding you back. It could be as simple as in your genes. Every person born is unique from one another, including identical twins. Our uniqueness is underpinned by our genes - they influence everything from our height, eye colour, whether we are lean or muscular to our susceptibility to illness and disease. In addition, our genes determine our body's response to the food we eat, the physical activity we conduct and the lifestyle choices we make such as whether to smoke or drink alcohol etc and therefore they can have a pronounced influence on our health. A common misconception is that our "inherited genes" determine our fate in life. Research has shown that this is not true at all. It is true that you can't change your inherited genes and yes you can blame your parents for your inherited genetic make up. But what you can do is maximise your genetic potential and compensate for any genetic defects that you may have by smart exercise, smart nutritional choices, smart recovery techniques and smart detoxification strategies, but how do you do this without firstly knowing your genetic make up? We'll answer this shortly, but before we do, let's have a quick science lesson. Genes, what are they? The majority of the 60 trillion cells in our bodies contain all of our genetic information. In essence, the information is a code, or a set of instructions to govern the development, functioning and maintenance of our bodies a bit like letters combined from the alphabet to make words and sentences. Genetic information is made up of a very large molecule called DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid).Everyone except those who've lived under a rock would be familiar with this term given the success of the CSI television series. DNA lives in the nucleus of the bodies of the trillions of cells and is identical in every single cell. Each cell has 46 molecules of DNA packaged in structures called chromosomes with each chromosome containing many sub-units called genes. Genes what is their function? Although each cell contains a full complement of DNA, cells use genes selectively. For example, some genes enable cells to manufacture enzymes needed for basic bodily functions, while other genes play a role in the development of the human embryo and then are shut down for ever. Genetic Variations how do they arise? A healthy body is dependent on the continuous interplay of thousands of proteins, acting in just the right amount and in the right places and each properly functioning protein is the product of an intact gene. There is very little variation in the DNA sequence between one human to another, however it's this small variation that dictates the many differences that exist from person to person, including a person's hair colour, height and weight etc. Genetic variations can be either inherited from our parents or they can be acquired. A hereditary variant is a mistake that is present in virtually all body cells and is copied every time the body cells divide. An acquired variant is as a result of changes in the DNA that develop throughout a person's life. They can be by-products of environmental stresses, such as radiation, smoking and other toxins. How do variants affect our health? Some variants in our DNA have harmless effects while others have harmful effects and are called mutations. They cause disease because changes in the genes instructions alter the functions of important proteins that are needed for health. Some genes have what is known as a latent variation. That is the change in the gene only becomes apparent under certain conditions, with both negative and positive effects. Our genes and their relation to exercise and nutrition Research has shown that gene variants can result in many potential health problems if not recognised and then compensated for by altering diet, lifestyle choices and what exercise we undertake on a regular basis. The good news is that if you know your genetic profile and what gene variants you have you are armed with a very powerful tool for maximising your health potential. You can now make informed lifestyle choices that best suit your specific gene profile and advances in biomedical science now mean that it is now possible to determine an individual's genetic profile using a simple mouth swab genetic test. You can now move away from the "one size fits all" mentality of interventions to tailor made strategies based in part on your genetic variations. Genes and their relation to exercise There are many genes that affect our response to exercise, e.g. athletes tend to be good at either power or endurance events not both and this is due in part to their specific genetic make up. Research has also shown that exercise can also influence the function of our genes e.g. the rate at which they turn on and off, thereby changing the rate at which certain proteins are released into our bodies. Nutrition and the effects on our genes Even though exercise plays a large impact on how our genes function, nutrition plays a critical role both when we are sedentary and when we engage in exercise. There is a fundamental relationship between our genetics and the nutrition we require for daily health and well being. Our genes contain the instructions that our body's require to make us physically who we are and it is the nutrients in our diet such as B vitamins and amino acids which help our genes carry out these instructions. For example, nutrients we consume can change the way a particular gene is expressed i.e. turned on and off. Some food ingredients can either accelerate or slow down the action of particular genes causing the genes to produce proteins in greater or smaller amounts and thereby influencing how the body functions. In addition to this, nutrient deficiencies lead to DNA damage and a reduced ability for our bodies to repair damage. For example, people who are folic acid deficient have much higher rates of DNA damage and hence an increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer than those with correct levels. Fortunately, research by the CSIRO has shown that increasing the amount of folic acid and Vitamin B12 using bran cereals or cereals fortified with these vitamins can actually slow the rate of chromosome damage in healthy adults. Damage to our DNA can also occur by unstable molecules called, "Free Radicals" and extensive research now exists that shows antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C & E found in fruits and vegetables can prevent or reduce free radical damage. The fact that nutrition has a powerful effect on the way our genes function and rate and extent of DNA damage in our bodies is proven beyond any doubt. Researchers are now using our genetic data to determine personalised, scientifically based strategies for meeting our nutritional needs for fitness and health in general. So where to from here? Ok, enough science, what can you do and how can it help you answer your burning question, how can I achieve my results using this technology? Excelgene, a Sydney based company has devised a genetic test that examines 15 genes specifically relating to body fat metabolism, lean muscle development, nutrition, recovery and detoxification. The test looks for variations in the genes tested for and based on your goals, current fitness levels, and your genetic results, specific interventions can be put in place by either yourself or your Gene Qualified Personal Trainer directly relating to exercise, nutrition, recovery and detoxification. For example, one such gene tested for is called "ACE" (Angiotensine Converting Enzyme) and is involved in the narrowing of blood vessels, which can affect tissue growth and is associated with the onset of insulin resistance and blood pressure. A negative variation can lead to an overproduction of the ACE gene, resulting in unregulated narrowing of your blood vessels, causing high blood pressure and heart disease. If you are one of the unlucky people who are currently taking blood pressure medication, then chances are your particular brand is interfering with the ACE gene allowing your blood vessels to dilate and lower your blood pressure. (Commonly referred to in pharmaceutical terms as an ACE inhibitor) Armed with this information, you can now make crucial decisions specifically relating to your training, nutritional and recovery programs. For example, you could monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis. Your trainer could closely monitor any increments in your periodisation, with both interventions specifically designed to monitor and control your blood pressure given your susceptibility to it being overly high due to your gene variation. That's just one example of how knowing your genetic make up could assist both you and/or your trainer in designing a tailor made regime of strength, cardio, flexibility, nutritional and recovery programs, all with your specific goals in mind. 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