Written by: Jonine Möller, M.Sc. in Sport Science
Technological advances in recent years have made genetic testing much more affordable than it once was. Subsequently, DNA testing technology is busy revolutionizing nutrition and healthcare. Genetic testing is shifting the focus to personalized preventative care and away from retroactive generalized treatments.
As with any new product, concept, or movement, questions are (and should) be asked. Is it all that it promises to be? How trustworthy is the information? How effective are the recommendations made? In other words: what are the actual benefits of genetic testing, and what are the limitations?
In this article, we aim to shed some light on the benefits and limitations of genetic testing for personalized healthcare and nutrition.
Firstly, there are different approaches to DNA testing. The most common testing is single-gene testing, which looks at single-gene variants and how they contribute to specific attributes. The benefit of this approach is that precise gene-targeted recommendations can be given. However, these recommendations may only target 1% or less of the overall DNA contribution to a disease or condition.
The newer polygenic risk scoring approach is much more accurate in estimating a person’s genetic risk for developing diseases or conditions. Unfortunately, gene-targeted recommendations cannot be given. However, over-arching lifestyle changes are much more likely to be effective at reducing risk for any conditions.
Since BioCertica uses polygenic risk scores, the rest of the article is from the perspective of this approach.
DNA testing has the following benefits:
- It allows individuals to take proactive control over their health by making the appropriate lifestyle changes according to which diseases and conditions they have genetic predispositions.
- Healthcare can be personally tailored based on how an individual’s genes interact with different drugs.
- DNA can give insight into an individual’s specific nutrient needs to ensure they get the proper nutrition for their bodies to function optimally and reduce diet-associated health risks.
- By being aware of which diseases you are at risk of developing, you can do the appropriate screenings for earlier detection, allowing more effective treatment and a better prognosis.
DNA testing still has the following limitations:
- No DNA test can give you the complete picture. Environmental and lifestyle factors also influence all disease risks, health conditions, and nutritional needs.
- Scientists are still busy investigating to gain a complete understanding of the genetic basis of diseases, metabolism, and the working of other physiological systems. The science and knowledge base is still evolving.
- Not all healthcare providers have an understanding of genetics. The clinical application thereof is thus still limited.
In conclusion, although there are still limitations, DNA testing has been unlocking the secrets to personalized healthcare and nutrition. We don’t need scientists to tell us that every person is different. Our bodies are different in looks and working; thus, it only makes sense that our diets and healthcare should be individualized instead of following a one-size-fits-all approach.
Interested in trying the BioCertica Nutrition & Well-being DNA kit? Click here and add Nutrition & Well-being to your cart for only R1699.
If you own any other BioCertica DNA kit, you can instantly unlock your Nutrition & Well-being results for only R599* in-app.
*Terms and conditions apply: Pharmacogenetics results are R1999 in-app.