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According to the American Dietetic Association, advances in biological sciences, especially in the sequencing of the human genome and human genetics, will change the practice of dietetics forever, just as it is currently changing medical practice. Tailoring nutrition advice to one’s genotype will become increasingly possible as the discovery of genes and mutations unfolds.

“Individuals who share certain genetic determinants will be identified as groups at risk that need new strategies for prevention and intervention,” explains registered dietician Judith Gilbride, the ADA’s liaison to the Department of Energy’s Human Genome Project. “This century will show us how diet influences gene expression. With nine genes identified for diabetes mellitus, we will have to determine the effective course of medical nutrition therapy.”

Genetic Testing for Wellness

Right now, genetic testing as it relates to personal nutrition is most helpful in the area of correcting genetic weaknesses with diet, for instance by supplying more of a given cofactor required by a genetically impaired enzyme (an enzyme deficient in that cofactor) to do its job. The application of genetic testing to examine individual responses to macro- and micronutrients is still in its infancy, but some futurists predict a day when gene-based diets define how foods are produced and marketed.

Rita Wellens, Ph.D., a medical-writing consultant who publishes on the latest developments in preventative medicine, public health and medical technologies, theorizes that in the near future “consumers will slide in their nutrigenomic card at any supermarket entrance to obtain a personalized list with recommended amounts, easy recipes and special discounts for certain foods – those that they ideally “should” consume to meet their genetically prescribed nutritional needs.” In other words, she explains, when following these customized dietary guidelines, “an individual will be able to control at least one of the main modifiable risk factors that aid in preventing a wide range of disease.”

But don’t take a shotgun approach: A nutritionally knowledgeable health professional (doctor, chiropractor, osteopath, naturopathic physician or qualified nutritionist) can help guide you toward the tests likely to be most useful for you.

Wellness Tests

Genomic Tests

Genomic tests analyze your DNA to identify the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that determine your health profile. Genomic profiles can identify SNPs related to cancer, asthma, inflammatory response, immune response, hormonal imbalance, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease and many other afflictions. They can also provide information regarding how you are likely to respond to certain nutrients and drugs. For more information, visit

Ph Test

A pH test assesses whether your body chemistry tends toward acidity or alkalinity – and how strongly – by measuring the pH differential between your saliva and your urine. “When your pH is out of balance, no matter how many vitamins and minerals you feed the body, some will not assimilate well in an acidic or alkaline medium,” Tefft explains. “But if you balance the pH first through nutrition, the same micronutrients lost when the body’s pH is off will metabolize correctly, effectively eliminating deficiencies.”

Mineral and Vitamin Test

Vitamins and minerals assist your body’s naturally occurring enzymes and hormones in their work, and usher them through their roles in various metabolic pathways. Quantifying their presence (or absence) helps you to identify what foods and what supplements you should ingest, and in what amounts.

There are two commonly used tests to determine mineral content: blood and hair. Blood is more familiar, but its accuracy is only about 70 percent and reflects just a few hours of your body’s history, while hair tests, according to Tefft, are 98–99 percent accurate and measure several weeks’ history. An organic acid urinalysis measures the use and efficiencies of the vitamins in your body, assessing any potential deficiencies or excesses. This information can be used by labs to craft vitamin supplements formulated specifically for you.

Hidden Allergy Test

The hidden allergy test is done by a blood draw and is designed to uncover food sensitivities resulting in delayed allergic reactions, the ones hardest to link to their cause, because they appear long after exposure to an allergen.

A food allergy doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in a dramatic way, like a sudden swelling of the throat causing you to choke. Sometimes, as with certain vitamin excesses or deficiencies, it is the difference between feeling great or feeling under the weather. Customized food rotations are often prescribed as treatments for hidden allergies.

Toxic Accumulation Test

Excessive amounts of vitamins, minerals, metals and poisons can lead to the deterioration of body functions. A toxic challenge or toxic accumulation blood test analyzes an individual’s chemistry for known toxins. “Hair and urine tests will tell some of the story,” says Tefft, “but the blood test gives the most detailed picture of the toxins in your system.”

Amino-Acid and Fatty-Acid Tests

Amino acids are the smallest constituents of proteins, responsible for corralling each particle of your matter into the shape you call your body. Specific amino patterns, as measured in urine, blood and hair tests, are strong clues toward your metabolic efficiency.

Fatty acids provide nerve and body insulation as well as slow-release energy. “Fatty-acid imbalances create metabolic ‘short circuits,’ which can severely undermine good health and prevent a lean physique,” explains Tefft.

The same round of tests used for amino acids reveals which of the 38 fatty acids is in or out of balance in your body and why.

Circadian Rhythm Hormone Test

Hormones are the chemical messengers that connect the brain to each cell in your body, complementing your nervous system. Saliva and hair tests can reveal hormone patterns in your own personal glandular profile. Any imbalances found are usually nutritionally correctable. This test is usually done last, Tefft explains, because “if you do the other tests and correct for any imbalances they reveal, your hormones will generally straighten out on their own.”

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