I looked to genetic testing and used the stratagene report and pathway planner put together by Dr. Ben Lynch to help me find answers to my health concerns. The benefits of genetic testing include understanding yourself better on a very personal level.
Like many Nutritional Therapy Consultants, I decided to study nutrition due to my health concerns. I was curious why I experienced symptoms even though I was relatively healthy, especially compared to the standard American diet. I also learned so much along the way with my success in specific areas of my health that I wanted to share this passion for helping others as I truly believe the answers are out there for everyone….we just need to find those answers.
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While I learned so much going through the Nutritional Therapy Program and was able to get results for my practice clients with the general yet profound process of optimizing the foundations to health, something was missing in my protocol. I couldn’t quite figure out what was driving inflammation in my skin (redness). I had random itchiness, which was new, puffiness in my hands if I ate the wrong foods (which I have pinpointed as histamine-related). Occasionally I had an inflamed joint pain(minor) and congestion in my skin.
I also always felt like my liver was struggling. And it was, as it always came up a little inflamed during my bioresonance therapy sessions. Still, I didn’t know why as I had done liver gallbladder flushes, supported with liver nutrients, was eating a whole food diet. I had done parasite cleanses, removed food sensitivities, kicked my candida, did the HCL stomach acid challenge, probiotics, gut-healing …. You name it, I felt like I had done it.
I was also not digesting my fats even with extra digestive enzyme support and my favorite liver cleansing beetroot superfood. In fact, at one point, right before I discovered the work of Dr. Ben Lynch and his book Dirty Genes, my bowel movements were getting worse. By that, I mean I just had loose stools that were sometimes close to diarrhea and lighter in color, and they always were floating due to the poor fat digestion.
I was also still prone to heartburn if I ate my trigger foods such as wheat and resistant starches such as potatoes, corn chips, and bananas. I knew something was still up and that somehow it was all connected to my liver.
At this point, I had started to hear about MTHFR, and I figured I must have this genetic SNP because something is going on but did I want to test for 1 SNP only when there are many other relevant SNP’s correlated to our health and liver. Instead, I typed MTHFR into the podcast search and downloaded my first podcast recording with Dr. Ben Lynch and Shawn Stevenson. After listening to my first podcast on MTHFR, I was blown away by the connections between MTHFR and our health.
In the podcast, Dr. Ben Lynch also mentioned that SIBO is connected to PEMT SNP’s as SNP’s in the PEMT gene can result in insufficient bile production and flow. Low bile flow contributes to SIBO as bile is ANTIMICROBIAL and helps to keep the small intestine clean and free of excess bacteria. I knew that this was related to me as SIBO can cause heartburn which I was prone to if I ate too many resistant starches.
That night after listening to my first podcast with Dr. Ben Lynch, I went home and purchased his book Dirty Genes. He outlines the function of the top 7 “dirty genes,” how they get dirty, what symptoms and health conditions are associated with each gene, personality traits related to genes, along with the best foods, nutrients, and lifestyle changes needed to clean up your dirty genes. WOW, was that book ever an amazing read that has changed the course of my nutritional studies. The empowering part is knowing that our genes are not our destiny and that these genes need nutrients from food to act as cofactors for these genes to function optimally.
With the Seeking Health pathway planner put together by Dr. Ben Lynch, you can see where specific genes lie in the pathways and information regarding what speeds the enzyme up, slows it down, and what nutrients are cofactors for various genes.
One of the primary genes that I targeted right away before any testing was the PEMT gene which is associated with fatty liver, gallbladder issues, and SIBO. The function of the PEMT gene is to make phosphatidylcholine which helps to promote bile flow and needs to be in balance with cholesterol; otherwise, gallstones, fatty liver, and gallbladder problems can occur.
Bingo, this was my problem. I had poor bile flow, thus poor fat digestion and SIBO. As my diet was good and I was already eating foods to support a dirty PEMT gene, I decided I needed extra support, so I went out to the health food store to purchase sunflower lecithin capsules that contain phosphatidylcholine.
Never in my life have I had a supplement seem to work like “magic” overnight the way sunflower lecithin did. Within one day of taking lecithin, my bowels changed from light in color to dark (almost black) and well-formed. It was like my gallbladder was finally able to rid itself of built-up toxins, which resulted in a very dark stool for a couple of days before returning to a standard brown color.
I also experienced a minor die-off reaction in which my skin got cracked and a little inflamed on the corner of my mouth, which would have been a result of the antimicrobial properties of bile kicking in and getting my SIBO down. As a result of supporting my PEMT gene, which helped reduce my SIBO, I can now enjoy the healthy resistant starches without experiencing heartburn… pretty amazing to me!
Seeking Health Stratagene Report and Pathyway Planner by Dr. Ben Lycnh
The PEMT gene is just one gene, but there is so much more to the story. While I was good at guessing what genetic SNP’s I must have, I wanted to test to make sure, plus it was all so fascinating, so I ordered my at-home saliva test through Ancestry DNA which took approximately a month for my results. I then downloaded the raw data from the Ancestry DNA website and ran it through the Stratagene report put together by Dr. Ben Lynch and his team. Now you must order the stategene DNA kit, which comes with the strategene report.
The stategene report uses your genetic data to give you personalized information of your genetic SNP’s, such as the standard wild type, homozygous or heterozygous, along with pathway planners, which show what inhibits that specific SNP, what the cofactor and function are along with bonus SNPs.
If you are new to genetics, you may want some help interpreting your genetic report and how this can relate to your health.
For me, I discovered so much about myself that made a lot of sense concerning my symptoms. I have a homozygous (double mutation or polymorphism) SNP in my SOD2, which produces superoxide dismutase to help break down oxygen-free radicals. Because I have a reduced ability to produce superoxide dismutase, I am prone to inflammation from oxidative stress, which is part of the reason why I could never seem to get the inflammation down in my skin entirely.
The heterozygous SNP of the MOA B in the histamine pathway is a gene that makes sense of my histamine symptoms. The strategene report showed which foods were high in histamine and overwhelmed this particular gene, along with vitamin B2 being the cofactor for this gene to function optimally. This gene must be overworked in my system, or I need some foods high in B2 while eliminating the histamine stimulating foods, causing my itchy skin after eating some of the foods high in histamine.
I also discovered a scary genetic SNP of the APOE gene, which has been associated with a higher risk for Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease…. both have been in my family history. According to Dr. Dale Bredesen, Alzheimer’s is driven by inflammation, among others, so managing and identifying where inflammation is coming from for me is super important.
The function of the APOE gene is to transport fat. Funny, I have so many difficulties with fats. L-carnitine is a nutrient that helps to transport fat in the body and, in this study, was shown to improve cognitive function.
I also have an upregulation of the FADS1 gene of converting omega-six fatty acid into pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid. At the same time, I have a reduced ability with the FADS2 gene to convert plant-based Omega 3 into DHA, which is anti-inflammatory.
Getting more fish into my diet while watching my intake of omega-six fatty acids is super important for me to help manage and keep inflammation in balance.
Another gene that I have is a homozygous SNP is a BCO1 gene where I have a decreased ability to convert beta carotene into the active form of vitamin A. A funny but true story is that I used to love carrots as a kid, and I ate so many that my nose turned orange. I look back now, wondering if my body was giving me healthy cravings to acquire more vitamin A.
Regarding my methylation pathway, I have several heterozygous SNP’s in several of the genes, along with a PEMT SNP. 70-80 percent of methylation is used to produce creatine and phosphatidylcholine. The phosphatidylcholine is critical for keeping my bile flowing from my gallbladder and preventing fatty liver. Knowing this helps to understand why my liver and fat digestion has always struggled. Eating leafy greens, beets and getting B12 in my diet is key to supporting these genes.
Now you know me on quite a personal level, the genetic level. Are you curious if genetic testing is a good idea for you, what SNP’s you may have, and how your genes are affected by diet, lifestyle, and nutrition? Everyone is biochemically unique, and by reading your strategene genetic report, you can tailor your diet to include the foods and nutrients to support your unique biochemistry.
While sometimes utilizing additional nutrients can be supportive, there are too many pathways and SNP’s to treat every SNP with a supplement, which will not work. Instead, looking at your genetic susceptibilities helps to reveal your personal story and how you can support your genes by first considering environmental factors, stress, and dietary choices.
We have each been dealt our hand of cards with our unique genetics, but it is up to us to play the cards we have been dealt well.
If you are interested in genetic testing, you can order the Strategene DNA kit and get your personalized genetic report with additional pathway graphics to help you understand your unique biochemistry.
Is genetic testing worth it?
In my opinion, it was 100% worth doing my genetic testing. What is great with genetic testing is that you understand yourself at a much deeper level. Plus, genetic testing is a one-time test. Your genes don’t change but how they are expressed is another exciting story that is up to you and how you live your life.
If you are curious about genetic testing but new to this exciting field, I highly recommend reading Dirty Genes by Dr. Ben Lynch. He provides profound information on the top 7 genes that are likely to be “dirty” with questionnaires to help you determine which genes need some support and “cleaning” along with foods to help support those “dirty genes.” Such profound information, all without needing to do genetic testing. But if you are like me, you will want to do genetic testing as well:)
You can use the Seeking Health pathway planner to see the genes and various pathways on paper. The diagrams are helpful to understand the connection between all the genes, our diet, and our lifestyle. I cannot recommend Dr. Ben Lynches Pathway Planner enough. His courses, book, and stategene report provide comprehensive details information that is life-changing.