Crack Your Own DNA Code

May 29, 2015

Joseph Hooper, Men’s Journal, October 2013

“These tests give people a better idea of where they are and where they need to be. It’s a probabilistic look at your health that is a critical component of anintegrated approach to wellness.”
Dr. Samir Damani Founder and CEO of MD Revolution

DIY DNA testing

…Ten years ago, the Human Genome Project deciphered the entire human DNA code at a cost of about $3 billion. What no one dreamed at the time was that the technology would quickly become so accessible andso cheap.

What Our Genes Tell Us

…In the case of San Diego-based Pathway Genomics, a doctor orders the test, receives the results electronically, and interprets them for the patient, usually with the help of a script providedby Pathway.

Genes for the Gym

With Pathway Fit, Pathway has gone the farthest in creatively interpreting genomic data to make it practical, accessible, and even gym-ready. Starting with a pilot program planned for this fall at six Equinox gyms in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Dallas, you can bring the results from the Pathway Fit Report to a specially prepped Equinox trainer who will help you figure out the healthiest ways to eat and work out. It’s a lively grab bag that looks into your genes for things like food cravings, the risk of having lower levels of various vitamins (A, B2, B6, B12, C, D, and E), and some common food sensitivities. Then there are the questions about the most effective fitness regimen: Are you likely, genetically speaking, to be the sort of person who readily puts on muscle from weight training, or, conversely, will aerobic endurance work efficiently tune up your metabolism? Odds are experience has already given you answers here, but some of the other tests may prove useful, like one that looks at your propensity for Achilles tendinopathy (which will make you want to start stretching your calves daily) or your body-mass response to exercise (which could give you a hint about the best strategy to shed those last 10 pounds).

The part of Pathway Fit that has attracted the most attention draws on genetics to personalize nutrition advice. The panel will, in theory, put to rest the controversy that has launched a host of diet books: Should you be on a low-fat, lowcarb, or Mediterranean diet to stay healthy and lose weight?

For its part, Pathway cherry-picks 79 genetic markers that it matches against data from population studies. People with one genotype are more likely to have higher than average “good” HDL cholesterol when they eat less animal fat. If you share that genetic profile, it may be evidence that you would do best with a low-fat diet. Your genetic variations might instead match those in a population who eat a lot of the monounsaturated fats found in avocados and olive oil and tend to be thinner. In this case, your results will push you toward a Mediterranean diet.