Your problematic gene alleles and what to do about them
In my view, the real value in a personalized genetic report is the insight into the potential health disasters looming in your future.
Cheesy metaphor ahead: If your body is the planet Earth, then these genetic reports are like asteroid early-detection detection systems and specific supplements or lifestyle interventions maybe your personal Bruce Willis!
So you’ve got your personal genotyping done (or you’re thinking about getting it done) through 23 and Me, AncestryDNA, or one of the other genetic testing services. These services provide you with a vast amount of information that’s not readily very useful. They give you a giant text file containing many thousands of indecipherable SNPs (sometimes phonetically called snaps) — the base level of your genetic code.
Disappointingly, these companies are forbidden by the government regulating agencies from telling you what diseases and chronic health conditions your genes predict you may suffer from in the future. They are also forbidden from making recommendations based upon what they ascertain about you. Likely this is just the regulating agencies protecting their friends in the hospital and pharmaceutical industries that pay them billions in fees.
Luckily for you, I’m just a freelance biohacker, researcher and self-tinkerer not similarly forbidden from expressing my opinions — at least until a big pharma hitman comes knocking on my door.
In this article what we’ve done is list some common genes, alleles, and SNPs along with associated health conditions AND supplements and lifestyle interventions that prevent or treat the condition. To identify your problematic genes you’ll save a lot of time by interpreting your raw data with very affordable software like SelfDecode or Promethease.
Taking the supplement listed for the problematic gene(s) you have is a pretty good idea. It’s NOT guaranteed to treat or prevent the condition that you may or may not suffer from, but a smart lifehacker is always looking to tame the black swans in their future, take advantage of asymmetrical upside and mitigate asymmetrical downside.
For determining these specific supplements or interventions was to look at meta-analysis papers about these conditions. The meta-analysis will recommend supplements or lifestyle interventions.
A meta-analysis is a paper where a group of scientists meta-analyzed multiple human, placebo-controlled studies and clinical trials. Often a single study may be misleading or unhelpful because the sample size was not big enough, the study was done 40 years ago or the researchers had a conflict of interest but ten, twenty, or more studies done on a topic capture the big picture.
Science is the endeavor of asymptotically approaching the truth of reality and meta analysis papers more often than not are the asymptote.
Then we used the objective website Examine.com to select supplements that have substantial scientific evidence supporting their usage to treat or prevent the undesirable conditions.
A skeptical, critical thinker may raise the objection…
How do you know that the supplement you’re recommending addresses the specific genetic predisposition that results in the deleterious health condition?
For some of the health supplements mentioned studies are showing a direct causal link between the gene and the mechanism of the supplement, but sometimes not. Sometimes there’s not a cogent scientific theory for why a supplement helps sick people with a specific issue, sometimes there’s just the phenomenon of a supplement consistently outperforming a placebo in human trials.
Every decision you make is a bet, especially when it comes to your health.
At the airport, they search you for bombs or weapons before you get on an airplane NOT because they think you are a terrorist but because the very rare incidences of terrorism are extremely costly. It (debatably) justifies searching many millions of people for bombs and weapons who they are 99% certain are NOT terrorists.
Similarly, if your genes indicate that there is a chance that you may have a health condition that’s extremely costly both in money but also in months or years of your precious life misspent suffering it’s intelligent to bet a comparatively minuscule amount of money and time on supplements or lifestyle interventions that might help. It would be a severe understatement to say that…
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Alzheimer’s for example…
Alzheimer’s can be reliably prevented with a combination of…
Alpha-GPC — Scientific papers and at least one clinical trial draw a connection between Alpha-GPC and Alzheimer’s.
The daily cost of a preventative dose of pharma grade Alpha-GPC is $0.25 — $1.00 which comes out to $90 — $365 yearly.
Choline vs Alpha GPC vs Acetylcholine: Smart Drugs of Many Talents
I'm not a doctor, medical professional, or trained therapist. I'm a researcher and pragmatic biohacking practitioner…
Ginkgo Biloba — Five clinical trials totaling over 1500 human subjects demonstrate a very consistent helpful effect
Dosage 240 milligrams daily split into two doses, the yearly cost of this is $19 — $70 (Protip: there’s a significant savings in using powdered Ginkgo Biloba). It is one of the best value supplements for maintaining your brain according to Dr. Daniel Amen
“The prettiest brains I see are the brains of people who take Ginkgo”
Ginkgo Biloba: Take it with Ginseng for limitless memory
I'm not a doctor, medical professional, or trained therapist. I'm a researcher and pragmatic biohacking practitioner…
Exercise — A 2017 Alzheimer’s meta-analysis published by the University of New Mexico asserts that exercise is often more effective than medication when it comes to prevention.
Because of mixed effectiveness of medications, exercise has been considered as a treatment for preclinical [Alzheimer’s], late stage [Alzheimer’s], and as a prevention strategy. Exercise appears to improve brain blood flow, increase hippocampal volume, and improve neurogenesis. Prospective studies indicate that physical inactivity is one of the most common preventable risk factors for developing [Alzheimer’s] and that higher physical activity levels are associated with a reduced risk of development of disease.
Alzheimer's Disease and Exercise: A Literature Review - PubMed
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that impairs memory and cognitive judgment. It is…
Sleep Hacking — A 2017 American meta-analysis paper considered 27 studies, totaling nearly 70,000 participants, it concluded that at least 15% of Alzheimer’s cases are attributed to bad sleep. That’s significant! That means there are likely millions of people suffering and dying from Alzheimer’s that could have been avoided if they had been more disciplined about their sleep habits.
You’d want to start by practicing these sleep hacks and you could try supplementing high-quality Magnesium or RESTored — Premium Sleeping Aid Stack.
If you have a few of the Alzheimer’s risk factor alleles red-flagged in your genetic report don’t freak out and you don’t have to go break the bank buying a bunch of supplements. Just be a little more vigilant about good habits eating right, exercising, and cycling different health supplements.
If you have a significant number of the Alzheimer’s risk factors and a family history of degenerative cognitive diseases or early-onset symptoms then I’d urge further research and it would be smart to regularly supplement Alpha-GPC and Ginkgo Biloba.
Alzheimer’s Risk Factor Genes Spreadsheet
This nasty degenerative disease robs us of our vitality and dignity. Preventing Parkinson’s is a less certain endeavor than doing so with Alzheimer’s but human trials and animal studies indicate that several supplemental interventions are helpful.
Intake of that sweet 1, 3, 7-Trimethylxanthine is one of the more proven supplementation options for Parkinson’s prevention.
A significant American study was conducted totaling several thousand middle-aged or elderly Japanese-American men
Our findings indicate that higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of PD… The data suggest that the mechanism is related to caffeine intake and not to other nutrients contained in coffee.
A similarly impressive Finnish study published in 2008 evaluated caffeine in a population group of over six thousand people, with a 22 year follow up, it concluded:
The results support the hypothesis that coffee consumption reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease, but protective effect of coffee may vary by exposure to other factors.
It’s identified in an American National Institutes of Health paper as one of the top 12 most promising drugs for addressing Parkinson’s.
So drink some (good) coffee daily or try an L-Theanine and caffeine stack.
Mucuna Pruriens with L-Dopa
Mucuna Pruriens dried powder was tested in 86 persons in clinical trials where 15–45 grams Mucuna Pruriens was found to be helpful.
You could also just supplement L-Dopa itself, the effective dose of treating symptoms of Parkinson’s is 500–1500 milligrams.
A 2005 Canadian meta-analysis considered the data of 8 different studies of Vitamin E and Parkinson’s, it concluded that it’s worthwhile…
This protective influence was seen with both moderate [intake and high intake] of vitamin E,
We conclude that dietary vitamin E may have a neuroprotective effect attenuating the risk of [Parkinson’s Disease].
Some In Vitro and human trials have found that low serum Vitamin D is correlated with increased risk of Parkinson’s. That’s doesn’t mean that Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of Parkinson’s but it’s increasing evidence that Vitamin D supplementation is a good idea!
From a 2008 human study out of Emory University School of Medicine
To compare the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in a research database cohort of patients with [Parkinson’s Disease] with the prevalence in age-matched healthy controls and patients with Alzheimer disease…
This report of 25(OH)D concentrations in a predominantly white [Parkinson’s Disease] cohort demonstrates a significantly higher prevalence of hypovitaminosis in [Parkinson’s Disease] vs both healthy controls and patients with [Alzheimer’s disease]. These data support a possible role of vitamin D insufficiency in [Parkinson’s Disease].
Coenzyme Q10 deficiency is likely a cause of Parkinson’s. A study of 28 germans found that 360 milligrams daily of CoQ10 meaningfully alleviated Parkinson’s symptoms after 4 weeks.
Is another killer (of at least 300,000 Americans yearly) that may be lurking in your genes.
Obviously, diabetes is a disease of modernity; it has everything to do with our fast food, drive-by, binge-watching culture. Not a lot of people that had to plow a farm got diabetes but there are over 70 alleles that, if you have them, you’ll want to be extra vigilant about diabetes prevention measures.
If you don’t have any diabetes-prone genes and the disease doesn’t show up frequently in your family history — don’t be totally irresponsible with your diet — but you can probably enjoy (guilt-free!) that second slice of cake from time to time.
If some of the diabetes risk factors show up in your genome, know that you’re not destined to die of clogged arteries, you can live a long, good life if you’re willing to habituate and practice discipline.
Abstain from… Sugar, alcohol and highly processed carbohydrates or junk food. If you’re at some diabetes risk because of your genes, family history, sedentary lifestyle or weight you can be a little naughty and cheat every once in a blue moon but try to be disciplined the majority of the time. Unless your genome and personal history put you at the very lowest risk for diabetes don’t do a cheat day or cheat meal more frequently than once a month.
Exercise — Unsurprisingly, exercise really matters in preventing Diabetes.
An impressive American study followed 32,000 middle-aged men for 18 years and monitored their exercise habits
We performed a prospective cohort study among 32,002 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study that were followed from 1990 until 2008. Weekly time spent on weight training and aerobic exercise (including brisk walking, jogging, running, bicycling, swimming, tennis, squash, calisthenics/rowing) was obtained from questionnaires at baseline and biennially during follow-up.
The study concluded
Men who engaged in both aerobic exercise and weight training of at least 150 [minutes a week] had the greatest reduction in type 2 diabetes risk
HIIT (“high intensity”) training is a seriously timesaving exercise lifehack for staying healthy, vigorous and lean.
A single session of HIIT can last as little as four minutes — or as long as thirty minutes. It involves a brief warm-up followed by short bursts of flat-out exercise — such as sprinting — alternated with even briefer periods of low-intensity activity, such as walking or jogging. Finally, when the session ends, the participant can relax and cool down…
The benefits of HIIT are that it burns calories and fat, improves your endurance, boosts metabolism and is good for the heart.
Green Tea, Cinnamon, and Turmeric — Preventing diabetes has everything to do with your day to day consumption habits, specifically, drinking fat burning Green tea and spicing up your caloric intake with cinnamon and turmeric.
Green tea improves fat oxidation and insulin sensitivity. According to a recent study collaboration between English and Turkish researchers:
Intake of the catechin epigallocatechin gallate and caffeine has been shown to enhance exercise-induced fat oxidation. Matcha green tea powder contains catechins and caffeine and is consumed as a drink…
Matcha green tea drinking can enhance exercise-induced fat oxidation in females. However, when regular brisk walking with 30-min bouts is being undertaken as part of a weight loss program…
Cinnamon has been demonstrated in numerous studies to lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
Turmeric (with pepper, importantly) lowers inflammation which is a major factor in diabetes.
Both superfood spices improve the taste of green tea which many find boring.
Resveratrol — Supplementation of this household name antioxidant is not for everybody but for those at high risk for diabetes it’s a smart idea as it puts your body into a state mimicking fasting.
From a 2011 double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 19 Hungarian diabetics
Our aims were to determine whether the polyphenol resveratrol improves insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetic patients and to gain some insight into the mechanism of its action…
The present study shows for the first time that resveratrol improves insulin sensitivity in humans, which might be due to a resveratrol-induced decrease in oxidative stress that leads to a more efficient insulin signalling…
Defying your genetic destiny…
Genetics can be a touchy subject, because as genetic science advances the evidence gets stronger and stronger that’s it’s more nature than it is nurture. When it comes to the immutable characteristics that determine your success and health your genes are likely (BUT not necessarily) your destiny.
The raw data of personal genotyping reveals an uncomfortable truth, life is really not fair. You did not get to choose your parents but the genes they chose to give you in a sweaty moment of primal lust have a lot to do with the choices you will make.
But, mitochondria are to genes what free will is to predetermination, if you empower the project of personal development, self-knowledge, and self-actualization with biohacking tools, strategies, and supplements you can wrangle control of your life away from your genes.