What are Genes and the Genome?
Genes are segments of DNA that tell your body how to function and what traits to express. The “genome” refers to the complete set of DNA. People have about 20,000-25,000 genes in their genome. Every person has two copies of each gene, one inherited from your mother and father. Everyone has the same set of genes, but each one can vary by a few letters (alleles) between people. Most genes are the same in all people, but a small number of genes (less than 1 percent of the total) are slightly different in our population. These “variants” can lead to differences in the way you look, how you respond to stimuli, and whether or not you have a higher susceptibility to certain diseases based on family history and epigenetic factors.
What are Chromosomes?
Chromosomes are structures in the nucleus of your cells that are tightly coiled around histones and hold most of your DNA. The company 23andme gets its name because humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes.
What are Alleles?
Alleles are the letters (A, T, C and G) that you see on your Nutrition Genome Report. Each gene has two alleles (base pairs) at a place on a chromosome. When the base pair changes from the normal base pair for that gene, it is known as a gene variant or SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism). What combination you have is called a “genotype.” A single allele change is called “heterozygous” (from your mother or father) and a double change of both base pairs is called “homozygous” (from your mother and your father).
More about SNPs and Gene Variants
SNP’s are gene variants that determine our nutritional requirements and sensitivities and have been inherited over many hundreds or thousands of generations due to the geography of our ancestors and epigenetic changes from our diet, environment, and lifestyle. These SNP’s encode enzymes that require vitamins, minerals and other compounds to do their job of keeping you healthy and are affected by deficiency, toxicity, stress, drugs and toxins. Optimizing enzyme function may help lower inflammation, balance hormones, improve mental health, optimize digestion, increase athletic performance and decrease the probability of disease.
What Does Epigenetics and Epigenomics Mean?
Epigenetics and the epigenome are just like genetics and the genome. The only difference is the “epi” which essentially means “make a change upon.” Epigenetics is how changes in your diet, environment and stress levels affect specific gene activity and expression.
The DNA code remains fixed for life, but the epigenome remains flexible. For example, how you eat and exercise can change how your genes function despite your genotype. Research continues to confirm the powerful effects of epigenetic changes, showing even if you have a higher susceptibility to certain health disorders like heart disease, you can reduce your risk dramatically through epigenetics. Your family health history does not necessarily determine your future health history.
Nutrigenomic Testing and the Nutrition Genome Report
The Genetrition™ software tests over 200 clinically relevant genes and determines your genotype for each gene. It does this by reading your DNA file from 23andme or ancestry.com. Once these genotypes are determined, the software provides you research on how to epigenetically improve any gene variants, strengthen the “chinks” in your armor and lower the probability of disease.
Click on the image below to see a preview of the Nutrition Genome Report.