Last year, I was offered the chance to have my DNA decoded by a company called DNAlysis Biotechnology. This would offer a better perspective to understanding my genetics.

DNAlysis Biotechnology uses cutting-edge DNA testing that empowers one with the tools needed to achieve optimum wellness.

The DNAlysis’s nutrigenomics DNA Diet is an excellent tool to prescribe the correct healthy eating and exercise plans specifically for you.

For instance, based on each person’s score, DNA Diet helps to determine whether a person should be following a low fat, low carb or Mediterranean-type diet. Certain DNA patterns also assist your doctor or health practitioner in determining whether you should be performing high or low intensity exercise, as well as what your response is to carbohydrates and different types of fats. Going beyond just eating and exercise, the test looks at lifestyle and behavioral factors that affect weight management, such as having a sweet tooth, and propensity for snacking. These all assist your practitioner in determining the optimal weight intervention strategies.

“A person’s unique genetic code tells such a great story about them- including their history, their health status, their strengths and weaknesses and risk for certain chronic diseases. So, I spent the next few years on a mission to simplify the data and make this genetic information easily accessible to consumers and doctors.”Dr. Daniel Meyersfeld, pioneer of DNAlysis (PhD in Molecular Biology)

Daniel believes that the impact of the environment, as well as factors like diet and exercise on a person’s health shouldn’t be underestimated. However, each person reacts differently to certain foods, medications and types of exercise based on their unique genetic makeup, and this is where personalised healthcare comes in. DNAlysis tests are a valuable tool for doctors and their patients, offering a window into a person’s unique health status, so that treatment is precise, predictable and preventative.

The DNA Health test offers a full health picture to practitioners and patients wanting to know if they’re at risk for developing certain chronic diseases/health conditions. The genetic test looks at bone health, oxidative stress, insulin sensitivity, inflammation, detoxification, lipid metabolism and methylation – which is the process of how fast DNA strands repair themselves.

DNA Health tests for 36 gene variants involved in the following biological processes that have been linked to risk for diseases of lifestyle:

  • Cholesterol metabolism and risk for heart disease
  • Bone Health & risk for osteoporosis
  • Vitamin B Metabolism and risk for cancer
  • Inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Detoxification
  • Insulin Sensitivity and risk for diabetes
  • Food Responsiveness, including Lactose intolerance, Caffeine processing, Salt sensitivity and blood pressure & Iron overload disorders.

How the DNA kit works:

Tests are available exclusively through the DNAlysis network of accredited healthcare practitioners (click HERE).

 The kit is delivered to your door and contains everything you need to complete it at home.

  • Step 1 – Avoid drinking or eating for an hour before using the swab sample kit
  • Step 2 – Use the swab sample kit to take a simple DNA sample (from the inside of the cheek)
  • Step 3 – Order the courier service to collect the sample and deliver it to the DNAlysis Biotechnology lab where they will use the DNA sample to analyse your unique genetic variations.

What I Learnt

To say this test was a wake-up call is an understatement!

My obesity risk was scored at a moderate range. I was a bit shocked to learn that I may gain weight more easily and may not lose weight as quickly as others. This is because my body’s ability to oxidize fat is decreased (ugly cry).

Because of this, I need to avoid all refined starches like white bread, pizza, pastries (basically all the yummy stuff I so love eating) if I want to improve weight loss and prevent weight regain. However, good carbs like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes are recommended. I also really need to watch my saturated fats intake if I want to lose weight. The best diet for me, according to DNAlysis is a low-fat, low-kilojoule and low GI diet.

Exercise is an important part of weight loss, but some individuals, myself included, require slightly higher amounts of physical activity to help achieve and maintain weight loss. According to my particular genetic makeup, diet is more effective than exercise to achieve weight loss, however exercise is still imperative for optimal health, mood and energy levels (and I love exercise). Since receiving my test results, I’ve been exercising three times week doing an hour of Pilates, a weekly HIIT & a Barre class. I love working out & find it works wonders for my mood.

Having a “sweet tooth” can be described as craving, or seeking out, sweet foods, which has been linked to an increased risk for obesity. My genotype influences my ability to taste sweet foods and may strongly contribute toward me having a “sweet tooth”. Because of this, I should avoid all high-sugar foods for better weight management. To assist me, the test suggests I include protein at most meals, increase my fibre intake and give preference to low glycemic index foods that will leave me feeling fuller for longer.

I have a gene that is linked to addictive eating behaviors, so I need to eat consciously and mindfully. I’m always joking about my problem with #PortionDistortion, but I know I need to address the underlaying issues. Simply put, I eat FAR more than I need to. The test recommended I write down what I eat, savour each mouthful and avoid eating whilst watching TV, driving or sitting in front of a computer. I was told to focus on why; how; where and when I’m eating to increase consciousness around meals. Read more here about mindful eating HERE 

Some of you may know that my mom died 11 years back after a long battle with breast cancer. Because of this, I’m militant about having a mammogram and sonar yearly. If you catch breast cancer early enough, it’s almost 100% treatable.

Now, there’s an enzyme called the COMT that helps control the levels of certain hormones – especially oestrogen, and neurotransmitters. Unfortunately, I have a gene that is associated with a reduction in the activity of the COMT enzyme, which may increase the risk for breast cancer from DNA damage. This scared me into immediately making certain changes in my diet, recommended by a dietician, that supports estrogen metabolism with the COMT enzyme.

I’ve increased my insoluble fibre, have been avoiding refined carbohydrates and am trying really hard to manage the quality of dietary fat I consume. I’ve also upped my intake of phytoestrogens and am doing my utmost to maintain an ideal body weight and exercise regularly.

I’ve been juicing daily to up my phytonutrient / antioxidant intake

I’m also trying hard to get adequate intakes of magnesium (sources include pumpkin seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, buckwheat, white beans) and anti-oxidants from colourful fruit and vegetables. It was also recommended that I up my intake of methylated B Vitamins, especially folate and B12.

To help optimize detoxification, I was advised to up my intake of cruciferous vegetables. Lucky for me, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are among my favourite veggies. I was also advised that garlic, leeks and onion (again, I eat a LOT of these) as well as my favourite fruits like apples, cherries, berries and tomatoes are excellent choices that support detoxification.

Whole Bowl Food For Balance by Melissa Delport is packed with utterly delicious, super healthy recipes. It’s become my go-to cookbook for meal inspiration.

I have a gene that is associated with increased levels of inflammation when a diet rich in saturated fat is followed. Inflammation is BAD – it leads to ageing and disease. I was advised to stop smoking immediately to manage my inflammation. Easier said than done, considering I’ve been an on again, off again smoker for almost 26 years! I’m happy to report that I haven’t touched a cigarette in a week.

Smoking is gross. And it makes you smell hideous (you only realise this when you stop smoking & smell other smokers!)

I’m 44 years old, and over the past two years have noticed that my knees are getting weak (it’s a battle for me to walk down stairs in high heels #AgeingSucks). My DNA report explained why: I have an increased risk of fracture and bone loss thanks to a gene that influences the ratio of collagen chains produced by my bone cells. Given this, I need to ensure I get enough calcium daily.

I was gobsmacked to learn that my genes are highly sensitive to the type and amount of fat I consume. I was advised to decrease total and saturated fat, as individuals with this gene who eat a high intake of saturated fat are at increased risk for a higher waist circumference. And take one guess at which part of my body is most problematic when it comes to weight loss…you guessed it, my waist!

I also learnt that I have a decreased ability to metabolise caffeine. Thankfully I only drink one cup of coffee a day, but if I drank more, I could increase my risk of cardiovascular disease!

Last but not least, my genes show a higher risk for high blood pressure (my Dad suffers with this). I know I eat WAY too much salt, and I’ve made a conscious effort to lower my intake.

If you’re seriously looking at overhauling your lifestyle and diet, I’d highly recommend getting your genes tested.

Learn more about DNAlysis and what they offer HERE

I also had a DNA analysis of my skin done through Optiphi.

The DNA Skin test analyses 18 genes involved in important areas related to skin health. It looks at key factors linked to ageing, such as how well the body forms new collagen, how sensitive the skin is to the sun’s UV rays, and how prone the skin is to inflammation and environmental factors. Based on the results from the DNA Skin test, personalised lifestyle, nutrition, nutraceutical and cosmeceutical recommendations can be given for improved skincare and skin health, and to decrease the visible signs of ageing.

Three key priorities are broken down into Low, Moderate and High.

Thankfully I had no high priority areas of concern.

Of moderate concern was firmness and elasticity, sun damage protection and repair, and inflammation. Because of this, I need to supplement with hydrolysed type 1 collagen, increase my Vitamin C, D and iron intakes. It was advised that I include a good sunscreen into my regime – I do this anyway as a beauty ed. I also need to find a lipid rich moisturiser that contains retinol and antioxidants – this is easy as I’m already using both retinol and anti-oxidants in my beauty regimes.

Low concerns were sun sensitivity and pigmentation, protection from oxidative stress, detoxification and skin sensitivity.

It was recommended I use following products from optiphi:

Facial Cleanser (R737) – The optiphi multifunctional cleanser, exfoliator and toner desensitizes skin irritation while simultaneously removing impurities and maintaining skin barrier integrity. This soap free formulation targets concerns such as acne and pigmentation and is suitable for all skin types.

Protect the Canvas (R368) – Protect the Canvas is a unique UV protection and anti-aging formulation with SPF30. Additional peptides in the formulation delay signs of premature aging, while protecting lipid structures and providing anti-oxidant activity.

Body Curve Body Wash (R252) – Body Curve Body Wash is a polishing body cleanser that contains both alpha and beta- hydroxy acids for a smoother more refined skin texture. Additional benefits include maintaining the barrier function and acid mantle for healthier skin.

Body Curve Body Lotion (R252) – Body Curve Body Lotion replenishes the skin’s moisture reservoir and retains this moisture for long-term skin hydration. It promotes skin vitality and protects the skin barrier.

Muslin Facial Cloth (R199) – The Muslin Facial Cloth visibly complements the cleansing process through physical exfoliation for vibrant and radiant skin.

Protecting Revitalizer (R1967) – A serum that reverses the effects of sun damage and premature aging on the skin. It contains retinol in a unique time diffusion delivery system providing enhanced delivery and penetration into the skin. Retinol provokes skin rejuvenation by stimulating collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid production. It also includes vitamin C to protect elastin fibres and minimize pigmentation.

Moisture Control Light (R1735) – Provides long lasting moisture and hydration thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid. Improves epidermal barrier function and loss of moisture prevented with ceramides in the formulation.

Ageless Activegel (R1644) – Specifically formulated to address skin sensitivity. This unique formulation calms response symptoms, reduces signs of inflammation and redness as well as prevents glycation.

Rejuvenating Revitalizer (R1967) – A powerful serum that addresses all 7 signs of aging. It contains retinol in a unique time diffusion delivery system providing enhanced delivery and penetration into the skin. Retinol provokes skin rejuvenation by stimulating collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid production. The inclusion of additional peptides to stimulate matrix protein synthesis and re-densify the dermis makes this product perfectly suited to address concerns regarding loss of firmness and elasticity.

Body Curve Solar Spritz (R424) has an SPF of 30 and restricts the effects of UV rays such as redness and photo-aging. The unique formulation has an anti-free radical effect leading to increased cellular protection.

The various DNA tests mentioned above vary in cost from R2500 to R4300 depending on which test is selected.

DNAlysis Skin tests are available from participating Optiphi Skin Centres.

For more information email info@optiphi.com

7 comments

Very interesting- I’m considering doing a test- just not sure I want the results-

Comment from Caryn L

Great read, Candice-Lee! Lots of stuff to ponder here. And well done for not smoking for a week.

Hi Richard, thanks – it’s a long read but I had so much info to share. I must say, receiving the analysis was an eye opener & has certainly served to make me more aware of my eating habits and health in general. Adamant that this time around, I won’t go back to those damn cancer sticks!

Hey Caryn, I wasn’t entirely prepared for my results either. However, knowledge is power & I’m glad I now know my genetic shortfalls & am able to address them. I won’t lie, I was a bit shaken up when I got the results, but they have helped me take action.

Very interesting article. Is the company based in Cape Town?

Hi Linda, DNAlysis are JHB based, but the DNA kit will be delivered to your door. All it involves is a simple cheek swab – takes less than two minutes. The courier will then collect, drop off at the lab, and you’ll have your results in a week or two.

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