In my last blog, I re-introduced precision personalized medicine and how it is more specific to an individual’s needs and goals than a one-size fits all general protocol approach to your health plan.
But this approach requires a deep dive into your unique constitution – your health history, family history, lifestyle, GOALS, and the health risks you carry that can interfere with your ability to accomplish your goals. These risks are in part carried in your genetic make-up.
We know that you are NOT a victim of your genes. Epigenetics tells us that you can turn on good genes and turn off bad genes with your lifestyle, diet, medications, and other interventions. But it is essential to know where you start – to understand what specific genetic proclivities you have so that you know which specific interventions you need to follow – which genes need turning off and on. That’s where genetic testing comes in.
There are many types of tests out there. The most common are ones that test for unique genes, call SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms). These tests can tell you which form of a particular gene you inherited from your Mom and which from your Dad. 23&Me will give you reports on these.
Why I Recommend 3×4 Genetics
The problem with these tests is not only do they not provide recommendations based on the results, more importantly, they don’t take into account how genes affect one another. If you have one gene that helps build up more serotonin (a neurotransmitter important for healthy moods) and another gene that makes it harder to create serotonin, you don’t know what the net result will be. The majority of functions in the body are controlled by more than one gene, so the interactions among all of the genes are key.
There is another test that actually looks at all of the genes together that impact a particular system. It can account for which genes are stronger and which are weaker. It uses sophisticated algorithms to account for multiple genes that impact particular metabolic pathways in the body, providing an overall individualized assessment of each person’s mix of genes. This is a true personalized and precise test.
Not only do I use this test above all others, I actually joined the scientific advisory board of the company that makes it. I make no profit or any money from the test. I receive no payment from being on the advisory board. But, along with other board members Jeffrey Bland, PhD and Sara Gottfried, MD (look them up – they are geniuses!) – I know this approach to look at all genes together is far and away the best method for me to understand your individual risks. This genetic test helps me build a plan for you to accomplish your goals in light of your genetic profile. 3x4genetics even provides tips on supplements, exercise, and dietary recommendations for the issues that arise in your metabolic pathways.
You can’t order this test on your own because it is complicated and needs to be interpreted and explained to you by a healthcare professional. I know that can seem frustrating, but that’s why it’s so good. 3x4genetics only allows trained practitioners to order it so that they can adequately go through the results with you to explain it and make the proper recommendations.
As I said in my last post, precision personalized medicine is a giant leap forward from protocolized approaches built for populations. But it requires more sophisticated assessments of each person’s unique risks and an understanding of each person’s goals. That’s what we are all about in integrative, functional, and lifestyle medicine.
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Myles Spar, MD, MPH is the Chief Medical Officer of Vault Health, a national medical practice specializing in care for men, and Is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.