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.” – 23andme.com
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:
- Go to 23andme.com and sign in
- Click on “Reports”
- Click on “Wellness Reports”
- Click on “Muscle Composition”
- You will find your results in there.
all pictures are directly from 23andme.com