Monday, 14 July 2014

Karen's DNA profile.

A few weeks ago, my wife, Karen was interested in having her DNA profile analysed as she starts to rebuild her body after having kids. So we got her tested and the results are in. I thought I would share them here so you have an understanding about where we are with advancements in health and fitness testing.

Before you get your results, it is advisable to have a think about what you think the results might show. They rarely show up something that you genuinely never knew or felt. Unless you are living a really unhealthy lifestyle. Here are what the we are testing for. 

  • Carbohydrate sensitivity - also know as the fat gene
  • Fat sensitivity
  • Detox ability
  • Caffeine sensitivity
  • Salt sensitivity
  • Lactose tolerance
  • Coeliac risk
There are a few others such as antioxidant needs, vitamin D and calcium, but I'll stick to topics above. 

Here is what Karen felt prior to her results. 

  • Used to live off carbs in her management consultancy days, but was fatter and unhealthy (her words not mine)
  • Tried low fat diets but left her feeling hungry and craving sweets
  • Craves dark green veggies
  • Gets the shakes if she has too much coffee
  • Her dad has high blood presssure which would put her at risk of hypertension from excess sodium
  • If she has too much dairy, it upsets her stomach
  • Whole wheat doest't agree with her. 
So here are Karen's test results. 

Karen has a low sensitivity to carbs, which means she can cope with them pretty well. You'll still put on weight if you are into a calorie surplus, regardless of how well you can cope with carbs, but carbs definitely aren't her enemy. 

Karen also has a low saturated fat sensitivity. Her body uses saturated fats for energy better than the average person or someone who has a high fat sensitivity. So a low calorie and low fat diet will not suit her and it is no surprise that she was hungry when she tried it. nearly 40% of her diet can made up of fats. 10% of these can come from saturated fats. So it is advisable that she adds some to her diet as saturated fats help absorb fat soluble vitamins and hormones. 

Karen has the deleted version of a gene responsible for detoxification. So it is advisable that she increase her dark green veggie intake to compensate. This would explain her craving for dark veggies. 

Karen's salt sensitivity is raised which puts her at risk of hypertension with a high sodium intake. As mentioned earlier, hypertension is in her family. We know this to be genetic so it's no surprise. However, risk doesn't mean the gene will be expressed. If you try to stay fit and healthy, you may not even get hypertension. 

Karen is one of the lucky people who actually gets a positive health benefit (lower cholesterol) from moderate intake of alcohol. Her body breaks down alcohol more slowly than me which means her body can cope better with the toxic element of alcohol. 

Karen has an intermediate ability to detoxify toxins such as carcinogens from food and smoke. It also helps with caffeine removal. So her body might struggle with more than 1 coffee per day. 

Karen has what is known as lactose persistence. She can cope well with dairy, but she might not cope as well in later years. Again, this is listening to your body. 

Lastly, she has a potential risk of coeliac disease. It still is only risk, but she does get digestive discomfort with whole wheat and spelt. At the moment she just avoids them, but at some point may want to get an antibody test to see if there is anything going on. 

There were a few vitamin and mineral recommendations which are more than she currently takes, but there was nothing that she didn't expect. So you might be asking what is the point of being told things you currently know?

Having the things you have always thought, written down in a report is incredibly powerful. Especially for compliance. I never advise Karen on anything to do with health and fitness and vice versa. Couples giving advice to one another on the whole doesn't work as your relationship gets in the way of any objectivity. However, as the test is objective, we were able to have a non judgemental discussion. She has since been making the tweaks to her diet. It helps that she is happy to. I don't need to mention lowering risk of heart attack or better protection from cancer etc. This is a report that stays with you for life and is what your body needs to function optimally. So I'm hopeful that people who often struggle to stick to a healthy diet, will be able to connect with how their body works. You'll not need to worry about inflammatory newspaper headlines because they might not apply to you. Also, you can redefine what the word 'healthy' means for you. Low fat might be healthy for you, but unhealthy for someone else. Quite often it's how the information is relayed to us, that makes us stand up and take notice. 

Later in the year, I'll post about Karen's exercise DNA test too. 

If you are interested in getting a better understanding of your body, please contact 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Are you set up to fail?

Have you ever had a conversation with people about getting into to shape, or getting fit? Of course you have. If you work in an office, I imagine these occur on a daily basis. Have you ever replied like this?

"I really want to get into shape so I need to get down to the gym."

The gym is a good place to get into shape and you can indeed get very fit. But I think we set up our health and fitness endeavours with the wrong mindset and going to the gym is a prime example. 

In reality, you may go to the gym 3-4 times per week during your motivated stage. However, the average gym attendance when I was working in the gym was 1.5 visits per month. For most people, motivation often wears off and they find themselves closer to the lower average gym attendance. Note that this is only gym attendance. It doesn't look at what people are doing in the gym. You could be doing a 10 minute workout followed by a croissant and a latte. So at best we are pinning 3-4 sessions per week, to undo the years of not being active. It might work for a short while, but you might find that it simply isn't enough to touch the sides. 

So there's no point joining the gym? No, that's not what I'm saying. Expecting it to make the big changes you want is what I am getting at. Also, I feel there are other areas of your life to consider which will dictate whether you are successful in your health and fitness goals. So I have written a list of questions you should maybe ask yourself, which will be a better predictor of whether you will succeed with your health and fitness goals. 

  • How likely are you to enter a fitness event or fun run?
  • How likely are you to get involved in a sport or competition?
  • How likely would you exercise with your kids for fun, rather than perceive it as a chore?
  • How likely would you book an activity holiday?
  • How likely is it that you would suggest exercising with your partner (keep it clean) for fun? 
  • How likely is it you would get back earlier from work to look after the kids so your partner can exercise? 
  • How likely would you call you friends up and arrange something active for you all to do?
  • How often do you go for a walk because you think it is a nice thing to do?
  • How likely would you pick a school for your kids because you like the amount of sports and activities on offer?
  • How likely would you try cooking something new, with fresh ingredients and find it fun, rather than a pain and a waste of time?
I would even suggest that doctors ask these questions instead of telling people to go the gym. 

The gym is about will power and discipline. It only lasts for a short period of time. That's why getting a trainer or getting involved in gym challenges or the social side will keep you hooked into the gym. However, what will make the big difference is how you value some of the questions I have posed above. If you aren't interested in your kids being active, there is a strong likelihood that you will not think it is important for you. Losing fat and getting fit are sold as something which are only for those who 'want it the most.' Progress is more like a leaky tap. Slow and stead always wins the race. Over time you see fantastic results. But to get them, you are going to need more things working in your life than 3 gym sessions per week. 

If you're up for playing along, pick a few from the list and see if you can make a start. Just see how comfortable you are with them. When you are comfortable with some of them, I guarantee your mind will be much better set up to succeed with your health and fitness goals.