THE TIMEOUT. DNA Diaries

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Science and technology have recently taken center-stage when it comes to diet and nutrition. A simple meal plan, it seems, no longer suffices, replaced with the likes of body analysis, intolerance and blood tests. DNA testing is one of the more sophisticated tools of this new generation of personalized nutrition, identifying the specific needs of an individual and developing principles of nutrition to ensure they receive the optimal intake of nutrients required. While the science behind it is quite complex, the reasons many people do it are quite simple – to make sure your body is getting exactly the nutrients it needs to function efficiently, but is it all just another fad in the quest for beauty and wellness? Well Asma Hilal Lootah, founder of The Hundred Wellness Center and Sand & Smoke contributer doesn’t think so… An advocate of DNA testing, she has experienced first-hand how it can make huge improvement to health and well-being and shares her own personal journey of DNA testing below….

“I first started DNA testing in 2011 with both the “DNA Diet” and “DNA Health” tests. The “DNA Diet” told me what diet best suited my body while “DNA Health” told me about my health and identified any issues which are in my genes. Initially I, like most, was skeptical of tests like these, but being open to health innovations and because the recommendation came from a long time, trusted friend and homeopathic practitioner, Dr. Sean Penny, I decided to give it a go.

My results came out as ‘Fat Smart’ and ‘Moderate Intensity’. In a nutshell that meant that I must monitor my fat intake by adhering to a low fat diet, more specifically lowering my saturated fat intake working out on a regular basis with only moderate intensity exercises. So the question that most people may ask is, “isn’t this what most people should do?” Well, apparently not, and here comes the interesting part…

Over the years I took these results and tested it trying to understand whether it was accurate or not. When I was younger I had my cholesterol tested at the Mayo Clinic in the USA where they told me my cholesterol was high for my age. Upon taking the DNA test it showed that I do have a predisposition to high cholesterol, regardless of weight. So, without eating healthily and exercising, my cholesterol can increase no matter what my body shape looks like. Upon further consultation with Dr. Sean, I found that, according to my DNA, I have gene variations that may slow down my metabolism and increase my body’s absorption of dietary fat. Put into layman’s terms, a diet high in fats would result in increased fat gain and subsequent weight gain. So in order for me to see changes in my overall health I took the DNA test results very seriously.

At first I went to extensive measures as I was also on a gluten-free, lactose-free diet, but then I started to feel depressed, it was all too much and I realised that the key is moderation. 

I made a conscious effort to have 10% of my meal as either lean meat or fish and the rest a mix of carbs and veggies. I did not deprive myself but I worked with a simple diet plan and it worked – my fat levels started to drop.

The results also showed that I was prone to the accumulation of estrogen metabolites that are known to increase the risk of breast cancer. So decreasing exposure to carcinogens, as well as improving liver detoxification are vital to my overall health and well-being. These are things I would never have been conscious of if I hadn’t completed the DNA testing.

For me, taking the DNA test definitely has helped prevent me from developing serious health issues that could be avoided. Everyone’s genes are different, and DNA testing gives you a personalised result that can then be customized into a diet and lifestyle solution that works for your body and genetic make up.

I am a big believer in DNA testing and I can honestly say that taking the tests has improved my health, and have allowed me to understand and deal with various issues that have troubled me my whole life.

I now know that it is because of my genetic make up and with the help of Dr.Sean I know how to handle these problems when they arise. I feel great and think that DNA testing is one of the strongest diagnostic methods out there – everyone should give it a try.”

DNA testing can be carried out at the The Hundred Wellness Center. Contact 04-3447333 for more information.

Image credit: Grace Guozhi by Marc de Groot for Vogue Netherlands September 2012 issue.

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