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Can a DNA Test Improve Your Health?

Can a DNA Test Improve Your Health?

A diet that works for one person might not work for another. Just like an exercise routine that produced results for one person might not produce the same, or any, results for the next person.

But a local laboratory is hoping to help people focus on the methods that will produce the best results, and it’s using DNA to do so.

Molecular Testing Labs, an accredited testing laboratory in Vancouver that specializes in molecular genetics, is now offering DNA testing that will analyze a person’s genetic code to identify the types of diet and exercise habits to which their body responds.

“We hope to provide a solution to a problem that people have been struggling with for some time, people wanting a solution to better fitness and are tired of weeding out the propaganda associated with different diets and exercises,” said Kelly Fobes, pharmacogenomics advisor at Molecular Testing Labs. “We want to provide them a little bit of peace of mind.”

The tests, called Fitness and Nutrition DNA test, and Diet-DNA test, require only cheek swabs. The lab extracts DNA and examines 34 genes, looking for small alterations that cause a difference in the function of the gene, said Dr. Charles Sailey, laboratory director at Molecular Testing Labs.

“That alteration in the gene can be directly related to downstream functioning,” he said.

The selected genes can identify how a person’s body responds to food, nutrients, calories and different types of activities, such as strength training and endurance. A gene alteration might affect how the body metabolizes a certain vitamin, which could mean a person is deficient in that vitamin.

The gene alterations could also identify a person who is insulin sensitive or more susceptible to certain types of fats. Armed with that information, the person can alter their diet accordingly, Fobes said.

The Fitness-DNA test can reveal, among other things, whether a person is genetically disposed for power training or endurance. A person who wants to bulk up or tone their body but who is disposed for endurance training will have to train differently than a person who is disposed for strength training, Fobes said.

The testing can also identify how different bodies deposit fat, grow muscles and increase strength, all of which have an impact of whether someone is successful in their exercise program, she said.

“That’s why some people can really slim down with 30 minutes of endurance training three days a week and others can run 7, 8 miles a day and struggle to not gain weight,” Fobes said.

The tests are $299 for Diet-DNA and $549 for Fitness-DNA, which also includes the diet analysis. Each test comes with a personalized report of the findings and specific diet and exercise recommendations, Sailey said.

The goal is to give people a guide to make their diet and exercise plans successful, he said.

“If you know where your strengths are, you can leverage them,” Sailey said. “If you know where your challenges are, you can focus your efforts to minimize them.”