Diet and lifestyle choices play a major role in determining your overall health, but your DNA should not be underestimated. "There's no arguing that your mood, weight, metabolism, immune system, hormone, and overall health are—at least to some degree—influenced by your DNA," writes functional medicine expert William Cole, DC, for MindBodyGreen. "I'm more concerned with exactly what role your genetics play in the health problems you have today and how your DNA increases your risk factors for certain illnesses." Below read up on the five genes Cole pays attention to when evaluating a patient's health.
BHMT: "This gene instructs the enzyme that is responsible for methionine, an amino acid building block that is responsible in the choline oxidation processes, which is needed for optimal brain function," writes Cole. Brain issues like ADHD can be brought on by changes in this gene.
CBS: Not to be confused with the TV network, CBS is responsible for making the amino acid cystathionine. "People with this mutation will produce more sulfur end products and oftentimes need to limit eating sulfur-rich foods like dairy, eggs, dried fruits, and legumes," he explains. "Other genes like NOS and SUOX can further cause this excess of sulfur and are associated with immune issues like asthma."
COMT: This gene helps balance the neurotransmitters in a healthy brain. "A double COMT gene change is linked with an increased risk factor for ADHD, anxiety, bipolar, and obsessive-compulsive disorders," he clarifies.
MTHFR: Cole analyzes this gene to assess something called methylation, which he describes as a "big biochemical super freeway system that makes your hormones, gut, brain, and detox pathways healthy." This process happens a billion times every second, meaning "if methylation isn't functioning properly, neither are you." He uses this information to pinpoint hormonal, digestive, brain, and autoimmune issues in patients.
Detox genes: Finally, detox genes like CYP1A2 can indicate how well a person tolerates caffeine or how well you absorb the health benefits from drinks like coffee and tea.