Genomic Gems: Welcome to Your Genetic Code

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Time to get a SNP - that is, time to get a single nucleotide polymorphism. Yes, that’s a mouthful, which is why these genetic variations are commonly known as “SNPs.”

If your DNA is what makes you, then SNPs are what make you different from the person next to you. Put simply, each SNP represents a difference in a single DNA building block.

Here’s an example. Imagine building a tower of Legos, and then replicating it exactly – except this time, you swap out the red Lego on top for a blue one. That’s how SNPs work. They’re small, seemingly minor changes that still have a noticeable impact on your DNA and how you experience the world around you.

From functional (like how your body processes fish oil) to funny (yup, there’s a SNP for being hangry), SNPs are fascinating glimpses into your own body. Think of them as the ultimate personality test, one that’s much more scientific than enneagrams and horoscope signs.

Ready to learn more? Here are some of the most unique SNPs in the human genome.

CYP1A2 rs762551

Ever felt like there’s simply not enough coffee in the world to wake you up on a dreary Monday morning? Blame it on our SNPs. Specifically, blame it on the rs762551 SNP, which is heavily involved in the processing of many chemicals and medications.

The variations of this gene determine how quickly your body metabolizes caffeine and some drugs. For example, you might process these things much more rapidly than others (leading to a lack of effectiveness – or too many cups of coffee). Or, you might metabolize things slower, which can lead to toxic levels building up in your blood. Finally, some variations of this gene prevent you from metabolizing these materials at all. So yes, there’s a chance that your body just doesn’t process caffeine and those hundreds of dollars at Starbucks have been a waste.

Along with caffeine, the rs762551 allele can affect the efficiency of Tylenol, naproxen, zofran-ondansetron, TCAs Tricyclic antidepressants, some antipsychotics, some SSRIs, and estrogen. So, understanding your rs762551 allele is really essential to ensuring you’re receiving the treatment you need.

GNB3 -rs5443

The benefits of fasting are all over the news. You want to try it, but every time you do, you find yourself in a bad mood and mad at the world – a.k.a. “hangry.”

Don’t worry, it’s not you – it’s your genes. Yes, your genes could be to blame for the effect hunger has on your mood, especially when fasting. While everyone struggles with fasting at first, most people adjust after a while. However, if you’re not adapting at all, it might be because of your rs5443 allele.

Don’t get me wrong.  Everyone struggles at first, their bodies adjust after a while. Those who don’t seem to be able to adjust may have a specific SNP risk allele for the GNB3 that is making it more of a challenge because you are so hangry. What’s more, this heightened sensitivity to hunger (and the accompanying mental discomfort) might be a contributor to obesity.

Here at Wild Health, 10% of our patients have two risk alleles for the hangry gene and an additional 46% have one. Our approach is to help them understand why they’re feeling so affected by hunger and help build strategies to get them through (boxing for anger management, anyone?). As always, these patients also have the option of bypassing fasting.

COMT rs4680

Are you naturally more strategic or more tactical? It’s the classic worrier vs. warrior showdown – and little did you know, your SNPs hold the answers.

From the beginning of time, our survival has depended upon your village having a diverse mix of skills. And while we’ve evolved a little beyond hunters and gatherers, these skills are still closely linked to the COMT SNP in modern times.

The COMT SNP has to do with how you metabolize dopamine. Fast metabolizers of dopamine (a.k.a. warriors) will have naturally lower dopamine levels. That’s useful in threatening environments, when you have to perform at your best in the face of danger and pain. Slow metabolizers of dopamine, on the other hand, are what we call worriers. They’re primed to thrive in complex environments that require a strong memory and attention to detail. Many people fall somewhere in the middle, with the ability to succeed as either warriors or worriers based on environment, context, and other variables. (Want to build a first-rate team at work? Aim for a mix of worriers and warriors for your best chance at success.)

ARNTL  rs10766071

Ever wonder if there’s any truth to your mom saying you need eight hours of sleep every night? Or what, exactly, scientists and researchers mean when they praise the benefits of a “good night’s sleep”?

Eight hours may be the universally-accepted number of hours to aim for, but that’s not necessarily the case for everyone. Some people are genetically categorized as “long sleepers” who may need nine or more hours of sleep nightly. Meanwhile, “short sleepers” can feel fully rested and recharged after just six or so hours.

The rs10766071 allele contributes to your natural sleep duration. That way, you’re better equipped to understand just when you need to start your nighttime routine and how much sleep to get in order to perform your best every day.

Want a more complete picture of your body’s natural sleep duration? Wild Health can put together a complete analysis that uncovers how you can optimize your sleep schedule. It’ll put you to sleep – in a good way.

GJB6-GJB2-GJA3 rs112803755

Fish oil supplements have been a darling of the health food store for many years now, thanks to reported benefits like supporting heart health, brain function, and more. Just one question: does it work for everyone equally?

According to new research from a team at the University of Georgia, taking fish oil only provides those much-touted health benefits if you have the right genetic background. For the right genotypes, taking fish oil supplements will lower triglycerides. But for everyone else, taking those supplements will have the opposite effect and raise your triglycerides.

Without this gene, you won’t get any health benefits – so you can save the cash for something that will actually help your health (like organic produce or farm-raised protein).

By this point, you’re probably curious about what your unique SNPs look like – after all, there’s a lot to discover! At Wild Health, we do this type of advanced testing every day for our patients. In fact, we sequence your DNA to analyze all of your genetic advantages, predispositions, and disadvantages. That way, we can show you exactly what makes up your human operating system. From there, we’re able to work with you to optimize every aspect of your health. In fact, you could say we’ve cracked the genetic code.

Ready to see your own DNA makeup? Reach out to us to start your journey of self-discovery and optimization today!