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What's in Your Genes?

I routinely recommend that my patients consider obtaining their raw genetic data from 23andMe.com, choosing either the Ancestry package ($99) or the Health and Ancestry package ($199). Both options analyze about 750,000 genes out of about 3,000,000,000 (three billion!), a small but useful portion of your genetic material. With the raw data in hand, we can look at individual genetics that might suggest practical steps my patient my take for optimal health. The "Health" package is a bit of a misnomer, as the health data analyzed and reported by 23andMe is pretty limited. Only one of the tests I value is included in their health report, the gene that doubles your risk for late onset Alzheimer's disease, the ApoE4 gene.

If you have that gene and learn of its existence before you get Alzheimer's disease, you can alter your diet, fine tune your lifestyle choices and greatly increase your chances of dodging that bullet. If you have a strong desire to be healthy, you would make most of those choices whether or not you have the gene, but there are a few steps that are particular to ApoE4 carriers. That knowledge alone would make the cost of the test well worth your while, even the spendier package!

For instance, if one were to choose among anti-oxidant supplements, Resveratrol might be the best choice for an ApoE4 carrier as it helps to clean up the amyloid proteins that we all make and use to patch up injured brain cells. ApoE3 folks--most of us--clean that up and heal the nerve cell. ApoE4 folks need extra help making sure that happens.  

The Ancestry package tells you where your ancestors came from and collects your raw data on those 750,000 genes. You can look up individual genes on the 23andMe website or you can upload your raw data to a separate website that provides some degree of analysis. 

In my practice, I look at about three dozen gene pairs, looking for genetic variants that have some data on their likely effects and the best way to manage those effects. I usually run a patient's raw data through the analytics on mthfrsupport.com, though there are other sites as well, and "know what to look for" so I can best advise my patient.

I always look at the ApoE4 gene and in addition I look at the MTHFR, MTR and MTRR genes to guide the choice of a proper B vitamin, I look at the BHMT genes for alternate ways to help the body recycle the amino acid homocysteine... at the BCMO1 genes to see whether that individual can use beta-carotene (carrots) for vitamin A or whether they need retinol (butter) from animal products. 

I am personally eager to hear some of the speakers on this summit, as there are a LOT more genes to identify and understand, each of which might be helpful. Online summits offer free presentations, typically several on a given day, and all of the presentations on a wrap-up day at the end. During the summit you also have the presentation to purchase permanent access to the material so you can listen at your leisure, accompanied by pdf's if you prefer to read the material. I hope you'll join me in listening to this information and learning how much of a do-it-yourself expert you can become on your own genes and what they mean for your health! 

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