DNA test kits are incredible technology. Imagine, in 2003 the Human Genome Project was completed. It took billions of dollars and a whole decade to complete the scientists. Today, you can have important pieces of your DNA analyzed for less than $ 100, or you can have the entire genome sequenced for less than $ 1,000. Not only this, but you can get the results from the comfort of your home, after sending a simple DNA sample from the cheeks cells.
Companies like 23andMe, Ancestry and Veritas Genetics were born to bring the power of DNA testing to the masses. These companies offer a number of different tests, ranging from what your genetics can tell you about genealogy to the various disease risks that can lead to mutations in your genes. Usually these companies publish a test only after significant scientific results have been found, and there is some understanding of the mechanisms behind the gene. However, with the ease with which genetic testing can be carried out, a number of smaller companies are trying to monetize the information within your genes – meet the companies DNA testing -. As rip-off DNA companies are growing in number and popularity, potential customers should be attentive to detail and understand if there is real added value.
Raw DNA Data Analysis Company
Many of these companies do not directly test your genetics. Instead, they allow you to transfer results from another test company. With these raw data, they analyze a number of other positions within your genes that have been linked to various conditions. Companies can promise to “optimize your diet” or “advance your fitness” based solely on clues found within your genome.
The main difference between these companies and industry leaders is the standards they are bound to. Many of the companies are Start-ups, trying to make their place in the jungle that is the genetic testing market. But don’t be fooled. Part of the reason 23andMe and other industry giants don’t report the same traits is not that they don’t have access to information. Rather, they probably saw the same studies that bind certain genes to various conditions, and decided that there was not enough evidence to draw conclusions from a certain genetic variant.
In other words, many raw DNA testing companies are simply wrapping up generic health advice in the form of genetic testing, and then they say it has been “customized” to your personal genetic profile.
What do raw DNA testing companies say?
One of the most widespread claims from these third-party testing companies is that they will be able to analyze your genetics and give you the “perfect meal” for your genotype. Not only will they tell you which foods your body is most able to process, but some companies also offer specific meal planning based on your genetics. For example, some studies have involved some gene variants with different levels of activity of various digestive enzymes. Knowing the activity of this enzyme can help them predict which foods you will be able to process better than others. Some reports claim to know your affinity for red wine or other taste preferences based solely on your genetic code.
The second most common claim made by raw DNA testing companies is that they can find the “perfect ” workout for your body type, to maximize weight loss and help you get tone and definition in your muscles. Companies analyze genes that are linked to the creation of proteins within the muscles that allow them to shorten and flex. They consider other information, such as any genetic mutation that may affect your blood and oxygenation levels. Together, they try to present a framework that understand your body at the genetic level and have specific tools to increase your success in sports.
The latest and most egregious reports come in the form of determinations about your mental state and abilities based on your genetic profile. Various companies have reports describing how your genetics can affect mental states such as avoiding harm, mathematical ability, and even intelligence in general. Some of these reports are even “supported” by a series of statistically significant studies that show a certain correlation between some genetic variants and mental analysis. However, as in the case of all these categories, relationships not only ignore, but openly ignore the lessons of holistic science. Instead, they present any evidence to support an idea as fact, as we will see below.
Why Are These Claims False?
Nutrition is an extremely complex topic, and the science behind it has been overshadowed and complicated by industrial influences for decades. Consider eggs, for example. The eggs have gone back and forth between the healthy column and the unhealthy column for decades, as researchers funded by different sources publish censored versions of their results not to discourage their sources of funding to hire again. But, consider this:
One egg has 187 milligrams of cholesterol. A whole steak has only 196 milligrams of cholesterol, although a typical steak is 5 times bigger than an egg. Per unit weight, a steak has only 20% of the cholesterol of an egg. Given that the human body can survive without additional cholesterol, and the fact that high cholesterol is related to almost all degenerative diseases, eggs are obviously an unnecessary and unhealthy part of a normal diet.
So why do eggs still appear ” as part of a healthy breakfast” in so many commercials, food guidelines, and even government-sponsored diet plans? If you are looking for an answer to any complex questions of the company, the simplest solution is to follow the money. The agricultural Lobby within US policy is by far the best funded. It has more power than the NRA, the big pharmaceutical Lobby, or any other political group.
Nutrition and Genetics
Similarly, third-party raw DNA testing companies are looking for money. Although the genetic associations they find and show may have some merit, a good diet for a person is a good diet for most people. In fact, if you are still interested in a personalized diet plan, here are some great standard tips that you will probably receive:
Eat more fiber in the form of fruits and vegetables. Minimize the intake of animal products, which carry the highest loads of fats, salts, oils and cholesterol. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure that you get all the different nutrients and regular exercise. And that’s it.
This is essentially the same basic dietary guide that is presented by most DNA testing companies, because in clinical studies plant and whole diets have been proven the most promising, both by increasing weight loss, increasing muscle mass, and improving health in general.
Yes, it could have a genetic variant associated with reduced ability to treat carbohydrates. But this information has almost no influence on what a good dietary choice could make. A varied fruit and vegetable diet is still the most efficient and healthy way to lose weight or provide your body with optimal nutrition for processing.
Like nutrition, all the science of fitness was strongly influenced by industry and society in general. In the early 1900s, it turned out that different types of runners largely had different types of muscles. Sprinters, known for their bursting speed, but low endurance, largely had fast-twitch muscle fibers. Marathon runners were largely the opposite, having mostly slow-twitch muscle fibers that provided endurance but not speed.
As such, coaches begin to measure the types and types of muscle fibers within incoming athletes. If a person had slower – twitch fibers, they were marked as a distance runner. People with fast fibers were forced to run sprints or become running backs for the football team. However, no one has studied the effects of training and exercise on what kind of fibers develop inside an athlete. Similarly, a person’s ability to use oxygen, their levels of lactic acid production and other aspects of Athletics were all measured. But, many of these traits were considered static.
That is, most researchers saw these traits as” fixed ” within a person. If you have fast fibers, it was simply assumed that you were born with these fibers. So, someone with fast fibers would never be a good candidate for long-distance running. Some studies also put a racist spin on things, claiming that black people had faster fibers-twitch, while white athletes were better for endurance. As we shall see, these statements have been largely invented.
Fitness and Genetics
Like all the traits we have, fitness is at a certain level determined by genetics. Some genes absolutely affect various aspects of athletics. However, many third-party raw DNA testing companies claim to be able to optimize your training based on what versions of certain genes you carry. But, a simple story can compromise the whole premise behind these results.
Consider the story of Abebe Bikila, the first Ethiopian winner of the marathon of the Olympic Games. The science of his time was against him. All known reports of black athletes suggested that because of their genetics, they were more likely to be sprinters with fast-twitch muscle fibers.
But as a child, Abebe regularly practiced long-distance running in a common Ethiopian game played on a field more than a mile long. This lifelong training led Abebe to finish 1st in dozens of marathons around the world, competing with some of the world’s best endurance runners. If Abebe’s story tells us anything, it is that your genetic predispositions can easily be overcome with effort, perseverance and the right attitude.
In fact, scientists are now publishing articles on the “plasticity” of muscles. Simply put, the type of muscle that is formed within the body is the type that is used on a regular basis. They have shown that at the microscopic level, the nerve signals that a muscle receives can change the type of muscle that is formed.
Abebe was rarely sprinting. Rather, he spent almost every day traveling long distances, since he was a child. Similarly, most athletic characteristics are determined not by your genetic projects, but by which side of those projects you actively engage and work. So before you spend money on a genetic test that will “guess” what kind of muscle fiber you have, or what level of blood oxidation you can achieve, you could do better just by practicing the skills necessary for the sport you want to play.
This is probably the most egregious category of relationships because the human brain is the most complex organ of the human body. Like nutrition and fitness, we’re just starting to see the whole picture. And, as in the other categories, our first reductionist scientific results have been largely overturned by recent studies.
Many raw DNA testing companies claim they can estimate your intelligence, math skills, or other very complex traits based on your genetic code. Simply put, this dramatically overestimates the role of a single gene in the complex picture of the human mind. In fact, recent evidence suggests that the brain is among the most trainable and malleable organs in the body, and will readily reorganize itself according to the tasks that we present to it.
Recent studies have confirmed the dramatic plasticity of the brain. Not only can people accomplish almost all the tasks they turn to, but the things we focus on become more entrenched in our minds. As more and more connections are dedicated to a specific task, the brain adapts, incorporates more neurons, and provides more processing power to any activity we focus on. But, what does genetics have to do with this picture?
Neurology and Genetics
What large-scale genetic testing has shown us is that some groups of people are better at certain tasks. Take math as an example. For decades, Asian cultures scored high on standardized mathematical exams, while Americans scored relatively low. DNA analysis makes us believe that this is due to the genes that carry Asian cultures, which are found in less abundance within the melting pot of the United States. But this is a very small conclusion, which is easily explained in other ways.
For example, in Chinese and Japanese culture education is generally considered a very high priority. Having a low score in a math test is not only bad, but brings disgrace on your whole family. The stakes in American families are often much lower. If you are not good at mathematics, you simply focus on other topics that you like and move on in them.
So, what causes differences in mathematical scores? Is it our genetics, or is it simply the culture and environment in which we were raised? The answer is certainly not all genetic, as many companies would like you to think. As a runner can focus on becoming a sprinter and changing the type of muscle present, so even a person can become a mathematician. Although their genes say otherwise.
Will Genetic Testing Improve?
The answer to this question is certainly ” yes!”. Right now, we’re on the verge of figuring out when it comes to genetics. As more and more people do genetic testing and add their data to the aggregate pool, the researchers will have a much clearer understanding of how genetics affects the body.
At the moment, most relationships are based on correlation. That is, the presence of a certain gene can be predictive of real results and certain traits. The problem is that these studies rarely define and extrapolate the molecular mechanisms underlying the gene. As the science behind genetic relationships becomes firmer, we will gain an understanding of why a certain gene affects people the way it does.
Until then, most DNA testing companies are “shooting-in-the-dark,” so to speak. Although they know that there is a correlation, the intricacies of causality are still decades to be understood. Users reported getting different results on the same gene from different companies, or receiving unnecessary generalized information after paying hundreds of dollars.
So, if you decide to do one of these tests, consider the results as informative. But know that there is a much larger picture that simple genetic analysis still fails to grasp or understand.