Genetic Traits


Amine Detoxification

Human variation in the activity of detoxifying enzymes was first observed in the mid twentieth century when divergent patient responses to certain drugs was established. Recently, a mutation enzyme involved in drug toxification was also implicated in the detoxification of aromatic amines in tobacco smoke, which are known carcinogens.

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Benefit of Green Tea Intake

The tea polyphenol EGCG has been reported to act as a cancer preventive agent via folate pathway inhibition. Recently it was found that in women with low dietary folate and a common mutation in MTHFR, green tea intake was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.

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Beta-Carotene Availability

Beta-Carotene plays an important role in immune response, vision, cellular differentiation, and is one of the 6 most abundant carotenoids in humans, where it may prevent age-associated physical and mental decline. Unfortunately, one common mutation reduces beta-carotene availability.

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Brain Growth

Brain derived neurotrophic factor is a potein involved in the growth of new brain cells, memory, and learning. A common mutation in BDNF has been associated with reduced BDNF levels. Accordingly, many studies have impicated the mutation induced reducation in BDNF levels with neuropsychiatric disorders and impairments in select cognitive functions. To safely increase BDNF levels, engage in daily, sustained aerobic activity. Both moderate and high intensity physical exertion have been consistently associated with significantly increased BDNF.

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Caloric Restriction

Caloric restriction has emerged as a potentially potent way to slow aging, though it's benefits in weight loss are less certain. A recent study identified one mutation that significantly impacts how effective caloric restriction is for weight loss.

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Cardiac Risk from Coffee

Individuals with reduced activity of an enzyme involved in the breakdown of catecholamines have a higher risk of coronary incidence with heavy daily coffee consumption, defined as greater than 873 ml of black coffee daily.

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Catecholamine Breakdown

COMT is an enzme involved in the breakdown of catecholamines, which include dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. A common mutation that reduces COMT activity is associated with high levels of dopamine in the brain, and has been indepently associated with increased pleasure and novelty seeking behavior, improved working memory, and an increased sensitivty to pain and stress. Seperately, this reduced activity mutation has been associated with increased levels of noradrenaline following exercise. Conversely, individuals with the activity form of COMT may have improved resiliency to stress and pain.

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Choline

Choline is an essential nutrient involved in the structural integrity of cell membranes and neurotransmitter synthesis, among others. Research has shown remarkable genetic influences on susceptibility to choline deficiency, notably a mutation in MTHD1 associated the 15 times greater risk of developing signs of choline deficinecy, including organ dysfunction and lymphocyte DNA damage, when on a low choline diet. Choline rich foods include salmon and eggs.

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Circadian Rhythm

Circadian rhythms effect immunity, cognitive function, athletic performance, and metabolism. Importantly, many modern life demands lead to circadian misalignment, which can be associated with dire health consequences. Your circadian rhythm is determined by a complex dynamic of demographic, georgraphic, behavioral, and genetic factors. A common mutation in the PER1 gene is associated with either advanced, intermittant, or delayed timing of your circadian rhythm relative to the population. Synchronizing your work, sleep, exercise, and dietary pattern to your circadian rhythm may lead to better overall health.

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Cognitive Benefit of Caffeine

Caffeine enhances dopamine signaling in the brain. Individuals with a mutation for more rapid degradation of dopamine may especially benefit from the acute, cognitive effects of caffeine.

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Creativity

There is a German saying, roughly translated as "Genius and madness are often at close quarters". There may be some genetic truth to this, as a mutation associated with psychosis is also associated with higher levels of creativity.

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Dairy Tolerance

The ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk, is largely influenced by genetics with predictable geographic distributions. These distributions are predicated on divergent evolutionary pressure among historical groups of people, some of whom depended on cattle dairy as a vital source of food. Just a single mutation can predict your likelihood of lactose intolerance.

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Empathy

An individual's capacity for empathy develops under the influence of societal, behavioral, and genetic factors. Recently researchers identified a mutation associated with reduced dispositional empathy.

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Error Response

Error response, or the capacity to learn and improve after making errors, has been traced to the process of dopaminergic signaling. A common mutation that diminishes this process is associated with reduced ability to learn from error.

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High Fat Diet

The genetic basis for the variation in human response to dieting is only now beginning to be elucidated. Preliminary evidence suggests discrepancies in the way some folks respond to different dietary interventions, which is of critical significance. A recent study identified one mutation that may increase the risk of a high fat diet.

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Homocysteine

Research has associated elevated homocysteine, which is a type of amino acid, with risk of cardiovascular disease. A common mutation in MTHFR1 is associated with elevated plasma homocysteine levels, though the association seems to be modified by dietary folate intake. Fortunately many countries, notably the United States, fortify flour with folate, thereby modifying the impact of the mutation on homocysteine. Individuals living in regions with low dietary folate may benefit from eating foods rich folate, B6, and B12. Reliable sources chickpeas (B6), salmon (B12), and spinach (folate).

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Hostility

Brain imaging studies have revealed profound differences in the way we respond to negative stimuli and anger. More recently, researchers identified a mutation associated with increased anger and hostility in response to negative stimuli.

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Influenza Vulnerability

Influenza is a global health threat responsible for recurrent pandemics of varying virulence. Researchers recently identified a mutation associated with significantly increased disease severity following influenza infection.

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Intestinal Inflammation

Gastrointestinal inflammation is not entirely understood, but a widely accepted hypothesis is that commensal bacteria can trigger an overactive immune response that causes your body to inflame and injure its own intestine. Researchers recently identified a mutation that may reduce an individual's likelihood of gastrointestinal inflammation.

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Joint Health

Inflammation, either locally or systemically, of joints is painful and may decrease quality of life by obstructing free movement and reducing exercise. Scientists recently identified a mutation associated with increased risk of joint inflammation.

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Lexical Tone

Lexical tones are audial pitch patterns that denote word meaning. They are ubiquitously found in many spoken languages, notably in Mandarin Chinese. A recent study found a common mutation enhanced people's perception of lexical tone.

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Lutein Availability

Lutein is one of the six most abundant carotenoids in humans. It bioaccumulates in the human retina, where it may protect eyes from the damaging effects of blue light, which is the form of light emitted from smart phone screens. Unfortunately, one common mutation reduces lutein availability.

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Lycopene

Lycopene is one of the six most abundant carotenoids in humans, though it is synthesized exclusively by plants, meaning we are reliant on dietary sources. Research suggests high levels of carotenoids prevent aging. Unfortunately, one common mutation reduces lycopene availability.

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Meat Intake

Though meat consumption is nutritious and can be associated with positive health outcomes, the risks of a meat heavy diet are being continually elucidated, with recent evidence indicating increased risk among folks with a particular mutation in Ahr.

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Microbial Immunity

Microbial disease has been a consistent source of selective pressure over the course of human evolution and history. Some mutations made people more resistant to disease outbreaks, like the Black Plague. Even today we see a higher frequency of these mutations among the European populations historically devastated by the plague.

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Muscle Type

ACTN3 is a protein expressed in fast twitch muscle fibers, which are a type of muscle fiber that contract quickly and with greater force, but are more prone to fatigue. Accordingly, individuals with the genetic variant for fast twitch muscle fibers are more commonly found among the ranks of elite athletes. Interestingly, another line of research has suggested that individuals lacking the fast twtich genetic variant may have had an evolutionary advantage in endurance athleticism and resistance to fatigue. Evidence suggests that folks lacking the fast twitch muscle variant benefit more from long, moderate intensity aerobic exercise, while people with fast twitch muscle fibers have muscles best suited to fast paced interval training.

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Norovirus Vulnerability

Noroviruses are the most common cause of acute stomach infections worldwide. Certain genetic variants are associated with increased resistance to norovirus infection, though the degree of protection seems to be modified by the particular strain of norovirus.

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Oxidative Stress

GSTP1 is a member of a family of enzymes involved in the protection of tissues from oxidative stress. A common mutation in GSTP1 reduces the activity of the enzyme, and is associated with reduced antioxidant capacity, and increased risk of smoke and pollution induced lung damage. Fortunately, individuals with this low activity form show the greatest benefits from dietary antioxidant consumption.

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Reward Response

The human reward system is composed of many overlapping neurological processes involving desire, pleasure, and reinforcement. A common mutation in one enzyme involved in breaking down the neurotransmitter dopamine modulates this reward response.

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Skin Antioxidant Capacity

Research on twins indicates that more than half of our skin aging is determined by genetics, with behavioral factors, like smoking, exercise, and diet, influencing the rest. As society ages, there is greater interest in determining the cellular mechanisms of skin aging, with skin antioxidant capacity emerging as a factor.

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Skin Elasticity

Scientists have been working toward a skin-aging genetic classification panel using genes widely known to influence factors like systemic inflammation and antioxidant capacity. One gene they identified as contributing to skin elasticity is Il-6, with one variant associated with improved skin elasticity.

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Spatial Memory

Spatial memory refers to an individual's ability to mentally map and remember an environment, which is a cognitive faculty essential for physical navigation. Some people have a mutation that enhances spatial memory.

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Stress Reactivity

Certain individuals have either heightened, or muted, reactivity to stress, and these differences have been traced to both environmental and genetic influences. Recently researchers identified a mutation associated with heightened stress reactivity, as evidence by an elevated physiological stress response in the form of increased heart rate.

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Sun Sensitivity

Skin sensitivity to sun exposure is strongly influenced by genotype. Recently a haplotype (or combination of different mutations), was strongly associated with sun sensitivity, including likelihood of freckling and sunburning.

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Sweet Tooth

Dietary preferences are highly plastic, meaning we have a considerable ability to train our palates to prefer healthier foods. However, there is a genetic component to our individual palettes, with one mutation increasing preference for sweet foods.

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Telomeres

Telomeres are caps at each end of a chromosome consisting of tandemly repeated nucleotide sequences, and have been proposed as markers of biological aging because they shorten with each cell division.  Telomere length varies considerably between individuals of the same age, and the rate of telomere shortening has been linked to oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are implicated in biological aging.

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Thermoregulation

Though exercise may be the single greatest activity for preventing disease, improving cogntive function, and increasing lifespan, National Health statistics indicate 25% of Americans engage in zero physical activity. The subjective feeling of exercise has been hypothesized to be a determinant of exercise behavior, and the speed of tangible bodily improvements from exercise mat effect motivation in a feedback dependent manner. A mutation in the CREB1 gene has been associated with both temperatue increase to exercise, as well Heart Rate related imporvements in physical fitness as a result of exercise. Folks with this mutation should ensure proper, breathable athletic wear during exercise to prevent overheating, and may benefit from water sports and cold weather exercise. Additionally, they should be more patient in seeing improvements in fitness, which will surely come, though perhaps take longer to see.

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Vascular Health

Research has associated mutations in the apolipoprotein E with cardiovascular disease, hippocampal volume, cognitive decline, and poor outcome to traumatic brain injury. Accordingly, individuals with the higher risk mutation may benefit even more significantly from lifestyle modification intended to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. These behaviors include a 1) diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, and olive oil, with limited red meat, processed foods, and sugary drinks, 2) A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise daily, 3) adequate (7-8hrs) of sleep each night, with early diagnosis of sleep apnea and other related sleep disorders.

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Vitamin B Availability

The water soluble vitamin B-6 plays important roles in DNA synthesis and metabolism, and deficiency in B6 may dispose individuals to cardiovascular and, extensionally, neurological disease. A 2009 paper identified a mutation that significantly affects circulating Vitamin B6 levels.

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D has a role in a variety of biological functions, including bone health, immune function, and reduction of inflammation. A common mutation in the cell receptor that binds vitamin D has been repeatedly associated with reduced bone mineral density and calcium absorption. Accordingly, individuals with this mutation in the vitamin D receptor may have an even greater benefit from preemptive attention to bone health. Bone mineral density may be improved with a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and mineral rich fruits and vegetables.

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