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By 28 November 2019 | Categories: feature articles

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TechSmart Features sponsored by the Huawei Global Developer Programme

There are many approaches to losing weight and getting healthy. Keto, banting, fasting, carb cycling, blood type diet, the disgusting smoothie diet….the list goes on.

But one strategy that differentiates itself from them all is a health profile based on an individuals own unique makeup. That is what DNALysis offers and what I recently had the opportunity to try out for myself. 

Here’s how it works – the company sends you a sealed swab from which to gather cells/DNA from the inside of your cheek. It is then collected and sent to their lab, from which they extract numerous samples of your genetic code.

To put it simply this results in a full report that identifies what you, based on your genetic makeup, are more susceptible to, what factors indicate weight gain and weight loss, the types of exercise that are best for you and where you have genetic predispositions that aid in your health. From this, you then get recommendations of dietary choices and lifestyle choices that you could make to optimize your health. 

Translating the technicalities

The report is accompanied by either an inperson consult or a skype one with a certified dietician who walks you through the findings and explains how you can minimize your risks as indicated by your genetic profile, and maximise your health. 

For example, a key finding in my report was that I am susceptible to pollutants and thus detoxification should be a priority. It means smoking is a no-no for me (never had done and never will)  and that I can combat second hand smoke by increasing my intake of anti-oxidant-rich foods. The dietician translated this into including more foods like berries, brinjals and beetroot in my diet.  

It also indicated that I tend to be more susceptible to carbs promoting weight gain. Thus by limiting my intake of them, I would see the best results for losing weight. A particularly nice analogy according to dietician Monique Piderit, was that your genetic dispositions are how your gun is loaded. Your lifestyle choices are whether or not you pull the trigger. There is therefore a major advantage to knowing what your dispositions are so that you aren’t inadvertently pulling triggers on factors that are detrimental to your health. 

Know your strengths

The analysis also offers fine details, like where improvements can be made. For example, a gene that makes it more difficult for my body to absorb B12 and B6, and thus only 40%  of those vitamins are absorbed from the food I eat, indicates that I’m best served by including a B complex supplement. 

It’s not all bad news – the report also shows what positive strengths your genes give you. For example, I have one that helps in the fight against certain cancers.

Additionally, the report can show what diet you are most suited to  - in my case, the Mediterranean diet.

So does all this biotechnology stuff work? Are you well served by having this kind of detailed information at your fingertips? Uncategorically, I can say yes. I have been largely following many of the recommendations that the report confirmed and have seen a weight loss of 18 kg in the past nine months. 

That is mainly from integrating dietary choices into my lifestyle over a period of  time, so if you are thinking the only way to lose weight is by spending hours upon hours in a gym (who has that  these days?), I would challenge that assumption.  

The proof of the (figurative) pudding...

Since I had the report done when I had already lost the bulk of the weight I needed to, the proof of its efficacy came through following the guidelines to lose the last 3 kg that I wanted to in order to reach my goal weight. With the dietary tweaks suggested to me, doing so was quite literally no sweat.

In short I have found terrific value in the DNAlysis approach.  It has confirmed the belief that we are all individuals, that our physiology reflects that individuality, and thus so should our diet and exercise routine.If there is one caveat, it would be to be prepared to update your wardrobe. Serious weightloss requires some serious tailoring and sometimes, depending on how much you lose, saying godbye to certain items of clothing that can only fit your former self.

If knowledge is power, then knowing your genetic makeup gives considerable power to take more efficient charge of your health and wellbeing.           

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