Understanding DNA is My Secret To A Long Life

DNA Analysis

When I discovered that I was a little off, in my 2nd year of recovery, and when I say off… I mean, my circuitry wasn’t quite firing. My hormones were not regulating my cycle, mood, weight, sleep, all of it. My hair was falling out; my skin was a strange tint of yellow, and my eyes were red; it was odd… The good news was I was sober and had the grace and gumption to ask for help. I sought out the best doctor’s advice and to no avail. They returned with a stamp of A.I.D.S., which meant Auto Immune Disorder Syndrome. I was one of the first to be recognized with this syndrome. I needed more answers, I began to study everything, and this is when I discovered hormones, which then led me to my DNA!

Have you ever wondered what your genes say about you? I do and have always questioned this! I stumbled upon SelfDecode several years back when they first began their journey into this wild-wild west of DNA health field. They are dedicated to uncovering your genetic predispositions and providing lifestyle recommendations to optimize your health and wellness. My entire life changed due to my understanding of my DNA; yours can too!


All of that genetic material must be stored in a space about 6 microns in diameter, about one-twentieth as wide as a strand of hair. This is done by some pretty smart packaging into coiled structures called chromosomes. In total, we have 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs.

But how does it work? Well, that’s where the science of DNA analysis comes in!

What is DNA?

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acids, are the building blocks of our genetic material. Although only composed of 4 nucleotides (A/C/G/T), these little guys encode all of the functions that make us who we are. Like my likeness to be introverted, yep, that’s the truth, and I have an increased capacity to remember things, yep, truth again!

Our cells carry precious information, and they know it. DNA is stored in the central organelle of our cells, known as the nucleus. It’s a tight squeeze in there; if our DNA from a single cell were to be laid flat, it would stretch about 5 feet!

We, humans, inherit our unique genetic code from our parents: half from our mother and half from our father. The genes we receive determine traits like our eye color, hair color, how tall we will become and even personality traits – hello, enneagram 4!

Encoded traits that our parents pass on to us are a roadmap to the types of proteins we produce and the possible predispositions to disorders common within the family. I’ll come back this a little later.

How does DNA analysis work:

In 1990, a group of researchers set out to accomplish something that no one had ever thought possible, discovering the complete blueprint design for Homo sapiens (us, humans). The project was termed The Human Genome Project (HGP) and was completed in 2003 [R].

For the first time, we could determine the entire genome that makes us…us.

Everyone, as a part of the human race has mostly the same genetic code. Isn’t that a little creepy? What makes us a diverse society are the small changes in our code that allow for varying traits.

These small variations in the genetic code are called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). This means that one nucleotide in the genome sequence is exchanged, leading to a different expression of your genes. This is where it gets really interesting and what I love most about sharing with my clients when we analyze their genes! Here is an example:

As I mentioned before, you inherit your DNA sequence from your parents. Let’s say your mother has brown eyes while your father has blue eyes. There are sequences in your DNA that determine which eye color will prevail in you, called phenotype. One phenotype is usually dominant while the other is recessive. If a dominant phenotype is present, it will usually be represented over the recessive counterpart.

In this example, brown eyes are usually dominant over blue, so it is likely that you will be born with brown eyes. The only exception is if there are recessive genes in your mother’s family tree. You can carry the recessive gene but still present with the dominant phenotype – called “heterozygous.” The only way you can inherit your father’s blue eyes is if you receive a recessive gene from both parents – called “homozygous recessive”. (That’s Me!)

These small variations in genes for eye color can determine what eye color you will actually have. This is a VERY oversimplified explanation, and most of my clients have me at their side to go over this all with – but basically, SNPs can influence your genes.

The question: how do I determine what variations I have in my genetic code?

The answer lies in DNA analysis. It’s simple when you know how to approach it.

Every cell in your body contains the same copy of DNA, so retrieving the sample is quite simple. The most common types of DNA collection are from your blood, skin cells or saliva. For example, now when I work with a client, I just need a bit of your saliva to get all the important information – no needles!

After the lab receives your DNA sample, they remove all the stuff we don’t want (everything but the DNA) in a process called DNA purification. After they have the good stuff, DNA analysis can be performed to identify SNPs in your unique genetic code that can explain traits and predispositions towards diseases.

How does DNA influence your health:

Once you receive your DNA analysis results, how in the world do you interpret them?

Luckily, I work with 3×4 a female-owned and operated company that is a leader in the DNA space.

Dr. Yael Joffe founded 3X4 Genetics and now serves as its Chief Science Officer. Yael brings over 20 years of experience in nutrition, genetics, sound research, clinical practice and scientific integrity to 3X4.

Yael is globally acknowledged as a leading expert in the field of nutrigenomics. In 2000, she was part of the team that built the first lifestyle genetics test, and since then has been responsible for the building of many others. 

They have a pretty solid board of advisors and medical team supporting the entire process, I have spent hundreds of hours learning from them and I love them!!!!

Back to the DNA — some SNPs, like eye color, are benign and don’t carry significant weight on our health outcomes. On the other hand, other SNPs can have noticeable effects and lead to suboptimal health.

Examples of variants:

  1. For example, gastrointestinal disorders disrupt many people from living a normal life. Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis in particular, are gastrointestinal diseases that are due to an improper inflammatory reaction in the gut. A variation in a gene that helps with the autophagy of gut cells has been linked to gastrointestinal disorders [R]. Autophagy is the proper removal of defective cells from the body, failure to do so can lead to bacterial build-up and an inflammatory response [R]. Variations in ATG16L1 (rs2241880 and rs10210302) that are caused by an exchange in one nucleotide lead to an over abundance of GI Paneth cells and increased inflammation.

  2. As we know, heart disease is one of the leading killers in the western world today. Both hereditary and lifestyle factors can put you at risk for developing heart disease; let’s explore how your genes can predispose you. One of the gene variations that SelfDecode analyzes is PON1 (paraoxonase 1), an enzyme that aids in clearing fat and detoxifying your bloodstream [R,R]. Two SNPs (rs662 and rs854560) can influence the risk of fat build up in your arteries and your overall cardiovascular health outcomes [R].

Understanding your genetic code and how it influences your health is a self-discovery process. 3×4 Blueprint can help you identify SNPs and take lifestyle steps to optimize your inherited genetic deck. You can get started easily here! Genes are the general roadmap to your health, but that does not mean that they are absolute – lifestyle interplays with genetics to determine your overall wellness.

Understanding my DNA profile has changed how I live, and as I face and move into the second half of my life, I pay attention to the genes that may affect my cognition, mobility, and memory! If you’re a GENX woman struggling to find answers about your health, mood, sleep, or so much more, this may be the next part of your journey. And the good news for you is I’m here to help if you don’t want to go it alone.