Personally, I have had my DNA tested twice!

I like to know what is going on and I really like to know what is going on with me. As a practitioner in South Africa, I was invited to the launches of two different DNA companies (at different times) and decided each time to have my DNA tested by the respective company (at my own cost), just to make sure that I had a complete appreciation of the test before I recommended it to my clients.

I can happily tell you that the results from both companies came back the same, though the results were presented in different ways.

What drove me to test my own genes?

I suppose my most compelling reason is my own personal family history.

When I considered my immediate genetic family, I have close family members on both sides who have had breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune thyroid disease.

The medical doctors then always said to me “…well, your gran has breast cancer and your mom has breast cancer, so your chances are high, so make sure you have an annual mammogram, so that if you do develop cancer, we can catch it early.” That was it, that was all they could advise me to do and I was not happy with that.

Having a hands-on experience of a diagnosis and the subsequent treatment of breast cancer, left me with a strong decision to do everything that I could to not get cancer or any other chronic disease for that matter. I plan on living a long and healthy life!

I very quickly learnt that most cancers and chronic diseases are the result of lifestyle choices.

But is it enough to be able to say: I don’t smoke, I don’t drink excessively, I eat more vegetables than most people and I exercise regularly? Those are all healthy lifestyle choices, right? Those are in fact the lifestyle choices that my breast cancer-surviving family member lived by and she still developed cancer.

In practice, I was seeing clients who wanted the same outcomes as me.

I would also be presented with products from different companies, promising health and vitality in the bottom of a supplement bottle. I tried them all – on myself and on my clients. Sometimes the results were excellent but sometimes, it felt like I was simply adding more and more supplements to my daily schedule.

When I was introduced to the concept of nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics, I had a lightbulb moment! I suddenly understood what I had previously not appreciated. I understood that we all have variations in how our biochemistry functions and these variations will predispose us to developing chronic diseases. If I could understand the unique variations in this function, I could mange health upstream. This meant that I was no longer using handfuls of supplements to manage symptoms, but I was gently speaking to the body by giving it the information that it needs to correct things for itself.

In testing my genetics, I learned that while I do not have any one area of particularly high impact, I have medium impact in a variety of areas – methylation, inflammation, detoxification and DNA damage. I do not have one area of cellular function to manage very well, I have several areas to manage well. By understanding this, I now could choose very specific supplements, to do a very specific job in my body.

Because I understand my body’s biochemical needs, I am able to spend my supplement budget very wisely!

I make food and lifestyle choices that are aligned with what my body needs. I am not swayed by popular advertising and the new announcement of the day.

Understanding my genetics is not all about allowing me to buy supplements. It has also helped me understand why I react to stress the way I do and what I can do to help my body process stress hormones better.

My genetics tests did not tell me that I am predisposed to getting breast cancer or rheumatoid arthritis, but they did tell me that if I do not look after my body by not giving it the nutrients it needs, or by exposing it too many toxins, I do have the potential to develop those conditions or any others that are rooted in inflammation and toxicity.

I know that my daily routines and the supplements I take are having a nutrigenomic effect and that I am doing everything that I can to live a long and healthy life