The Healthy Melissa's Blog

My journey into the world of Health,Wellness, and Functional Medicine

Category: Genetics

The ACTN3 Gene: What Kind of Exercise Is Most Suited For YOUR BODY To Lose Weight?

Genetic testing is becoming more popular through websites such as 23andme. You spit in a vial and send it off, 8 weeks later – your entire genome is interpreted for you; showing you more about yourself than ever was able before.

Functional Medicine is all about getting to the root of the disease. I strongly agree that 1 size does not fit all in terms of treatment. But what happens when you are able to fine tailor a persons medical treatment right down to their genes?

I attended an amazing lecture on Stress, Genetics and how it effects Metabolism, with Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed, ND as the key speaker. Her clinical work with genetic testing has all the more confirmed that every single person requires more specified treatment. Right down to the type of exercise that they do!

The ACTN3 Gene: 

  • “Contains instructions for making the alpha-actinin-3 protein, which is found in fast twitch muscle fibers. Some people have a variant in the ACTN3 gene that causes them not to make any alpha-actin-3 protein. Almost all elite power athletes who have been studied have this genetic variant that allows them to produce this protein.” –

My Results:  I have done the 23andme genetic test, and I found out that I do not have ACTN3, a gene that encodes for the production of actin protein in fast twitch muscle fibers.

The Significance: Therefore I am an unlikely sprinter (thanks mom and dad) side note: Interestingly enough, both my parents did the test too. My father (a runner and former body builder) has 1 ACTN3 gene and my mother has none (my mom can’t run for crap). Higher odds are that I was going to not have the ACTN3 genes available to me.

Demographics For Prevalence Of ACTN3 Gene:

CC = 2 copies of the ACTN3 gene (which makes you a very fast elite athlete)

CT = 1 copy of ACTN3 gene and 1 non-copy (still fast)

TT = 2 non-copies of the ACTN3 gene (an unlikely sprinter and not as fast)

What This Translates To In Terms Of Exercise:

Because of this low/nonexistent actin protein, Dr. Kendall-Reed explains: “High Intensity Interval Training is not as beneficial for those with low actin protein. High Intensity Interval Training type exercises are more inflammatory, and can often make the person feel ‘bigger’ instead of slimming down.”  Instead, she states”exercises that are lighter in weight with higher repetitions – and longer/slower endurance exercises are more beneficial.” Dr. Kendall-Reed says that although she shares the same non-existent ACTN3 gene, she still does sprints – she does them for longer durations and spaces them out over the course of a week, instead of doing them every day.

My personal experience: I used to do more “Sprint 8” / HIIT exercises and didn’t feel it worked very well. I didn’t notice a rapid change in my body composition. More recently, these past two months I’ve been doing more resistance training/weight lifting and I’ve noticed a humongous change in my body composition in all the right ways. (makes total sense).

If you want to order a test kit, here is the link: 23andme !

If You Have Already Done The Genetic Test:

  1. Go to and sign in
  2. Click on “Reports”
  3. Click on “Wellness Reports”
  4. Click on “Muscle Composition”
  5. You will find your results in there.





all pictures are directly from










Sauna Bathing Decreases Cancer, All Heart Disease By 40% & Extends Life Span

In 2015 an incredible 20 year study of 2000 men aimed to measure the benefits of sauna usage. At the end of the study, they measured who died from non-accidental deaths, cancer, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease. What they found was:

  •  Men that used to sauna 2-3x/week were 27% less likely die from anything cardiovascularly related when compared to men who used the sauna only 1x/week.
  • Men who used the sauna 4-7x/week were 50% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease related deaths when compared to men who used the sauna only 1x/week.

Not only was frequency of sauna use important, but duration of sauna use was also vital! 19+ minutes had the most profound affect on lowering cardiovascular disease and cancer when compared to only 11 minutes of usage. Are you kidding me? 19 minutes or more?! It’s that easy??

How Is The Sauna So Beneficial?

If you think about it, the sauna in some ways mimics cardio exercise. When you’re in there, you’re sweating because it’s hot and your heart rate goes up. Blood flow increases to the heart, oxygen to the tissues increases. The sauna equates to a brisk walk.

Other Findings:

  • 2-3x/week of sauna use resulted in 24% lowered all cause mortality risk.
  • Men who used sauna 4-7x week were 40% less likely to die of cardio vascular diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, respiratory disease and all other non-accidental diseases.
  • The sauna sensitizes the brain to endorphins (the feel good chemicals in the brain).

  • The sauna activates the activates FOXO3 gene that allows you to age slower and live longer.

  • The sauna Increases your own production of HGH – Human growth hormone.

  • Long-term sauna bathing may help lower blood pressure in those with hypertension and improve the left ventricular function in those with Congestive Heart Failure.
  • The sauna poses no risk to healthy people from infancy to old age, including healthy women in their uncomplicated pregnancy.

Sauna Bathing Activates Heat Shock Proteins: Which Lowers Dementia & Alzheimer’s Risk

Heat Shock Proteins (HSP) are proteins in the body that make sure that other proteins maintain their structure and work optimally. When proteins become damaged, they kind of fold,  this causes something called “protein aggregation” within our cells. This folding leads to protein aggregates (Beta amyloid plaque) within our brain.

As a normal part of existing in this world, the proteins in our body are being damaged every day. They become damaged more readily as we age because we are exposed to more toxins as we get older. This is why it is important to eat fruits and vegetables, the antioxidants repair that free radical damage and repair those aggregated proteins.

The Significance of “Protein Aggregation”: This leads to Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and other Neurodegenerative Diseases.

HSP can reverse, repair & prevent those damaged folded proteins. This is precisely what is preventing Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease & neurodegenerative diseases. All of this is available to you simply by using the heat sauna.

Heat Stress From Sauna Bathing Activating FOXO3 Gene: Which Extends Life Span & Slows Aging

The FOXO3 gene is the master regulator of other genes, that have to do with stress and  the ability to handle stress. Many different kinds of stresses can damage our DNA…such as environmental toxins, pesticides on our foods, EMF’s from Wifi, unclean water. (The list can go on). But there is also GOOD kinds of stress, such as heat and cold, which activate the FOXO3 gene.

  • FOXO3 activates genes that repair DNA damage before it can form a mutation. FOXO3 is also involved in apoptosis (cell death) which is a protective mechanism against cancer. We have cancer cells in our body right now, but our loving immune system is there to perform apoptosis – which destroys these little buggers.
  • FOXO3 activates antioxidant genes that prevent damaged cells from secreting inflammatory cytokines. These damaged cells that secrete inflammatory properties are what accelerate the aging process in our body, our skin, our face. In mice studies, the FOXO3 gene actually activated other genes that allowed mice  to live 20% longer than their normal life span.
  • FOXO3 also activates your body’s own ability to create stem cells. As we age, we do not create as many stem cells.
  • Centenarians (those that have lived to 100 years old) were shown to have increased activity in the FOXO3 genes.

To summarize, if you want to live longer, have a better quality of life, reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, neuro-degenerative diseases, create more stem cells, increase your growth hormones, increase production of endorphins in your brain, then start sweating it out in the sauna! It’s a no brainer.




Images from:

The Mold Gene: HLA-DRB1


I am a strong believer in epi-genetics.

Epi-genetics is the scientifically proven theory that your genes do not determine your health, but your environment is what determines whether a disease causing gene will express itself. Example: Because your mom had breast cancer, it does not mean that you are destined to breast cancer. If you eat no fruits and vegetables, live a high stress life style, use all plastic containers and drink from plastic water bottles, and don’t ever exercise – then you will be switching on your predisposition to breast cancer.

Environmental Factors Are:

  1. Development in utero and childhood
  2. Internal dialogue/thoughts you think on a daily basis
  3. What foods you eat
  4. Environmental chemicals that you are exposed to
  5. Drugs and medications that you take
  6. Methylation has been strongly linked to being able to activate or repress a gene. Methylation is part of phase 2 of liver detox where you utilize B vitamins and Folate to pull toxins out of your body so that you can excrete them. If you have a genetic weakness (such as the MTHFR) in that pathway of methylation, then you need to be taking methylated B vitamins to assist your body in detoxification and energy production.

Genetics are like the loaded gun, and the environment is what pulls the trigger. If you maintain a healthy environment , the trigger never gets pulled.


What Is The HLA-BRB1 Gene?

The HLA-DRB1 gene provides instructions for making a protein that plays an important role in how the immune system functions. The HLA-DRB1 gene is part of a family of genes called the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex. The HLA complex helps the immune system distinguish the body’s own proteins from proteins made by foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria.

In approximately 24% of the population, there is a mutation in this gene that causes even the smallest exposure to a biotoxin to wreak absolute havoc on a person’s immune system. These people cannot handle the environmental exposure to mold and they switch on the faulty gene & express symptoms rather quickly.

What This Means For You:

There are multiple kinds of variations in this gene, and based on which one you have it can express itself in the following ways:

  • Mild susceptibility to extreme susceptibility to being sick from mold exposure
  • More likelihood of contracting Chronic Lyme Disease/inability to fight it off
  • Susceptibility of being sick from ingesting Dinoflagellates (fish)
  • MARCoNS (A nasty nasal infection/sinusitis)
  • Low MSH
  • Developing Multiple Sclerosis
  • Developing Chronic Fatigue
  • Developing Chronic Fatigue from Lyme vaccine Lymerix – It will cause an inflammatory immune response in certain genotypes. In another genotype is worked well.
  • There are MAJOR contraindications from the Gardasil Vaccine for cervical cancers and should be avoided based on what variation of this gene you have.

If you already have one or more of these conditions, you definitely need to do the genetic test to find out what is going on inside your body on a cellular level and then take further steps to rid your body of these toxins and boost your immune system.

How To Test If You Have The Genetic Mutation In This Gene:

It is a simple blood test that you can have your doctor do. A lot of times doctors will say you don’t need it or they will not do it because they adhere to what the insurance companies deem appropriate to test for, which is wrong! Your doctor works for YOU. If you want a test done, you should be able to have it done. Individual insurances will vary so it’s best to call them and ask them if that is something you can do through insurance. If you do not have insurance or do not want to use insurance you can always go through Professional Co-op. They offer significantly discounted prices for lab testing. Life-Extension is another lab that does this test, but Professional Co-op is less expensive. Functional Medicine Practitioners will more than likely do this test for you.

What You Can Do To Detox Mold & Biotoxins From Your Body:


Activated Charcoal – This acts as a sponge and soaks up everything, allowing you to excrete toxins out through the bowels. In one study that looked at subjects who were fed deoxynivalenol (which is a mycotoxin that occurs in grains) and then given activated charcoal. The results were that after ingestion of charcoal there was no mycotoxin that could be detected in the blood.


NAC-60c_042115N-Acetyl Cysteine & Glutathione – NAC is an amino acid that converts into the master antioxidant Glutathione. Glutathione has a short half life, so if you can do both at the same time it will increase the circulation in your body longer. This combo is very useful in binding heavy metals, candida, toxins and detoxing the liver. In one case study of a woman who accidentally ingested toxic mushroom, she was treated with activated charcoal, NAC and after only 10 days she was healed and had no organ complications.


Chlorella – This is a green algae that has been shown to cleanse your intestines, bind to mold toxins and heavy metals and eliminate them through the bowels. It also cleanses the liver and the blood. Clean blood assures that metabolic waste will get carried away from your tissues. Chlorella also allows your body to process more oxygen (which lowers cancer risk). Studies conducted in Japan have evidenced that chlorella may also help reduce body fat, and help with weight related diabetes, lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Another 3 year study conducted with 350 people who worked in a metal facility, were given chlorella to remove very toxic heavy metals: Mercury, Antimony, Lead, Cadmium and Arsenic. The results showed those who took chlorella had removed ALL heavy metal completely. –Note: Chlorella contains iron, so it is important for men to have their iron and ferritin levels checked. Women have their periods so it usually is not an issue for them


Cilantro – Cilantro is a green herb that also has a detoxification effect. It works with mold toxins and heavy metals.

As Dr. Mercola states, “You should always start any detox with chlorella gradually, taking just a small amount at first to see how your body tolerates this powerful detoxification tool. Some people also report benefits from beginning a detoxification by first eating small amounts of cilantro for a few days. Cilantro also promotes a detoxification response in your body, but at a less intense level — which may help your body ease into a smoother detoxification response from chlorella.”

waterrrExercise  & Drink Water – Toxins normally are sequestered in body fat. One of the best ways to remove stored toxins is to exercise! But also be sure to drink plenty of water. When you lose weight and don’t drink enough water, it will cause your toxins to flood the body because now there is less space for them to be stored, and more toxins all at once. It is VERY important that you drink at least half your body weight in ounces of pure water every day (and especially if you are detoxing).

All supplements and testing mentioned here are available at Dr. Jack’s Wellness Center.



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Chlorella Powder

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