The Genetic test

It’s all a question of genes

Do you know your genome? The blueprint that is stored in all your cells and that makes you a human being? And what does that have to do with HPU? Quite a lot! Because as varied as the symptoms of HPU can be, HPU sufferers have one thing in common: they are bad detoxifiers. But where exactly are the weak points in your personal metabolism? In detoxification phase I or II, in methylation or somewhere else entirely? Which active form of vitamin B12 is the right one for your metabolism? Methylcobalamin or Adenosylcobalamin? What genetic predispositions are dormant in your genome? With which nutrients can you support your metabolism particularly well, what should you better avoid? A genetic test will give you answers to all these questions.

Genetic testing in Germany

Laboratories in Germany analyse your genes – but not all of them and in most cases you have to pay for each gene individually. For example, 5 to 10 genes quickly add up to around 1,000 euros. The big advantage of this is that in Germany your genetic data, like other medical examinations, are subject to strict data protection regulations.

Genetic tests from the USA and England

In the USA, extensive gene analyses are already available for 90 to 300 Euros. However, the US providers “23andme” and “Ancestry” already made headlines because they had sold their customers’ data to pharmaceutical companies.

The “MTHFR-Genetics” test laboratory in England excludes the disclosure of the data in its data protection guidelines. As a self-tester, it currently provides the most comprehensive test on the European market, with around 650,000 SNPs analysed. With the discount code HPUGER a test there is available for 173.99 pounds (= approx. 198 Euro) instead of 189 pounds. The evaluation of the data is also very user friendly. In addition to the raw data, the user receives a “variation report” in which about 250 SNPs are examined in detail in English. All statements on the SNP constellations are backed by scientific studies and clearly presented. A good basis for becoming familiar with the topic of genes and their effects on metabolism is the book “Dirty genes” by the American physician Dr. Ben Lynch.

How a genetic test works

The procedure of a genetic test is simple: After purchasing the test on the websites of the providers, the customer receives a test kit by mail, which he can use to send a saliva sample back to the laboratory. A few weeks later, the result is sent by email.

What is tested there, however, is not the complete genetic code. This is about polymorphisms, more precisely single nucleotide polymorphisms, abbreviated as SNP, spoken as “snip”. What is that anyway? To understand this, we must first take a look at our genome, the totality of our genetic information.

Do we all have the same genetic code?

No, but almost! Of the 3 billion base pairs in our genome, 99.9% are identical in all humans. With chimpanzees, the similarity is 98.5%.

The genetic differences that are responsible for our different looks, our different abilities, likes and dislikes, but also for our state of health, are called polymorphisms. According to current knowledge, there are about 10 million of these in the human genome.

A polymorphism is the occurrence of several gene variants within a population.

The best studied polymorphism is the SNP. Here, one base (heterozygous) or both bases (homozygous) at one point in the genetic code is different from the rest of the general population. Each person has about 1 million SNPs.

Are SNPs harmful to health?

No, that cannot be answered in such a generalized way. While most SNPs do not affect our lifes very much, some SNPs can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health. In principle, SNPs can influence us both positively and negatively. Some can even be positive AND negative.

An example of SNPs with a major impact on the body are the SNPs in the MTHFR gene. They are particularly common in HPUs.

The MTHFR gene

THFR is a particularly important gene because it influences the methylation cycle in the body. The body provides genes, enzymes and biochemical substances with methyl groups (chemical -CH3) that they absolutely need for their functionality. SNPs in the MTHFR gene can have far-reaching consequences, since the MTHFR-controlled methylation cycle supplies at least 200 processes in the body with methyl. Disorders can manifest themselves in:

  • a low energy level,
  • Depression,
  • Fear, dizziness,
  • Chemical sensitivity,
  • a fiery temperament,
  • hypothyroidism,
  • a low white blood cell count,
  • a poor tolerance of alcohol,
  • strong side effects with laughing gas (nitrous oxide),
  • increased homocysteine levels in the blood (> 12 µmol/L),

but also in positive qualities like:

  • determination,
  • very good power of concentration,
  • good DNA repair,
  • high performance (“nerd”) and
  • a reduced risk of colon cancer.einem niedrigen Energielevel,

The gene MTHFR codes for an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. The best-studied SNPs in the MTHFR gene are A1298C and C677T. Using C677T as an example, it quickly becomes clear how strongly a homozygous (both bases altered) or a heterozygous (one base altered) SNP influences the activity of the enzyme at this site:

Genes are not fate

Genes are not a fate into which we have to submit powerlessly. Dr. Ben Lynch describes this very vividly in his book “Dirty Genes” : “Italy has a high rate of a SNP type that lowers the MTHFR function to 30 percent. Most Italians, even pregnant women, do not take a dietary supplement containing B vitamins. And yet there are few children in Italy who are born with the birth defects typical of MTHFR SNPs”. Why? It’s because of the vegetable-rich diet, sunny Italy and the sociable, stress-reducing lifestyle of Italians.

3000000000

3 billion base pairs together form the human genome

20000

Man possesses about 20,000 genes. The fruit fly 19,806!

1000000

Each person possesses about 1 million SNPs – individual bases that differ from the bases of the general population.

Genetic foundations

Biology was long ago? Here again the most important things you need to know about human genetics, in brief:

In 2003, the human genome was read for the first time. Our DNA code consists of about 3 billion base pairs and contains about 20,000 genes. Genes are sections on the DNA that code for a protein.

Our body cells have 46 chromosomes, on which our DNA is located. We get 23 chromosomes from our mother, 23 from our father. Only the germ cells (egg and sperm) contain only 23 chromosomes. When the egg and sperm fuse, the double set of chromosomes of 46 is created again.

If each of our body cells contains the same DNA, why don’t all cells look the same and have the same abilities?

We have liver cells, intestinal mucosa cells, visual cells, tactile cells and many more. From each of these cells we could isolate the identical genetic code we received from father and mother. And this is where so-called epigenetics comes in: Roughly simplified, epigenetics is the on and off switches of our genes. In order for the cells of an embryo to specialize into liver, kidney and brain cells, the body has to switch on certain genes in these cells and switch off others.

What does this mean for us? Although our genetic code is fixed from the beginning, our health fate is by no means set in stone. This is because the body can influence the frequency with which genes are read via epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation.

The genetically identical mice

A 1998 study1 showed the extent to which environmental factors can influence the reading behaviour of genes: Two laboratory mice were genetically identical. They belonged to a mouse strain with a genetic predisposition to obesity, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. One of the mice was slim and healthy, while the other was fat and susceptible to disease. Where did this difference come from when the genome was completely identical?

In this experiment, nutrition alone was responsible for this. The slim mouse had already received some nutrients that support the methylation process in the womb through the mother’s food. The fat and sickly mouse, however, did not. With the help of so-called methyl donors, the slender mouse was able to “switch off” unfavourable genes, whereas the fat and sickly mouse was unable to do so.

What does this mean for us humans? Our genetic fate is not set in stone! Through our nutrition and our behaviour we can help to control how our genes are read.

Source:
1 Wolff, GL et al. Maternal epigenetics and methyl supplements affect agouti gene expression in Avy/a mice. FASEB YY 1998 Aug;12(11):949-57.