Imagine yourself as a tree! Your tree is a great representation of your health.
The "roots" of your tree represent your genes, your mitochondrial DNA, and heritable epigenetic markers. The "soil" surrounding your "roots" represents your diet, your environment, and lifestyle choices - what you are exposing your genes too. Your "roots" are unique and carry genetic variations that you unique to you and indicate your personal health predispositions. These "roots" encode for proteins and enzymes that work deep in your biochemistry, which you can view as the "trunk" of your tree.
The "trunk" of your tree represents your biochemistry. These biomarkers can be measured and track through urine, blood, saliva, and stool and tell you in real-time whether you are manifesting issues related to your genetic variations; your "roots". The "trunk" is the place where your genes express themselves, producing their associated enzymes and proteins. The right level of these or gene dosage is dependent on whether you have genetic variations in these genes and whether you are providing sufficient nutrient cofactors to ensure optimising their associated proteins and enzyme function.
The "leaves and fruit" of your tree represents your phenotype and traits. Obviously, you don't want to "fruit" health and not disease. Traditional medicine would normally intervene at this point in your health journey. In Functional Medicine, we like to start at the roots and determine genetic predispositions way before we see tiny biochemical changes in the trunk of your "tree" so that we can prevent lifestyle-related chronic diseases.
Let's look a little deeper as to how this works.
The best place to start is with determining your unique genotype for key health genes. You can find out which DNA test is right for you by completing your online quiz.
Feeding your roots - nutrigenomics
If we follow the Central Dogma of Genomics, we know that protein-encoding genes are responsible for the transcription of RNA, and RNA transcribes this genetic information into important proteins and enzymes in your body. These proteins and enzymes work on a molecular level in your body and can impact your health outcomes. When you carry a high impact, genetic variation in one of these genes, this can impact the amount and level of the protein transcribed. The good news is that many of these proteins and enzymes require a nutrient co-factor from your diet to catalyse their function. Where you have a genetic variation that could predispose you to lower level of enzyme activity, you can "add-in" more of the co-factor to upregulate expression. Knowing where you have "wonky gene" or "roots" will help you to choose the right nutrient co-factors to help support their functioning better.
Knowing your genotype takes the guesswork out of your diet and supplement choices.
Once you have determined your genotype, you will be able to track and measure whether your new diet, supplement protocol, environment, and lifestyle choices have worked in helping to prevent the poor biomarkers usually associated with your type of genetic variations.
The "trunk of your tree" represents your biochemistry, where you can regularly test your blood, saliva, hair, urine and/or stool to ensure that you are not tipping over into a diseased state.
These are some of my favourite biochemistry or metabolomic tests for measuring and tracking your progress. You can order all of these online and do easily in the privacy and comfort of your home:
|Methylation||Homocysteine, serine, glycine, SA/SAH ratio, methionine,||The Methylation Profile | Blood|
|Oxidative stress||8-ohdg||Oxidative Damage | Frozen Urine|
||The DUTCH Complete | Urine|
||The Complete Thyroid Panel | Bloodspot|
|Adrenal Stress Profile | Urine|
||The Cardiometabolic Profile | Bloodspot|
You can view "the fruit of your tree" as either being healthy or rotten! Often referred to as your phenotype (your traits, signs, or symptoms). The quality and quantity of the fruit are direct results of how well you have to support your roots or genes.
Often it is only at this point that many of us get help for our health problems. The health of your fruit will guide you as to whether to go back to your roots and refine your choices.
The world of "omics"
Now that genomics is being integrated into all aspects of health and medicine, we have seen all the "omics" being used to help people prevent disease. If you use one or more of these in your personalised health journey, then you are on your way to living an optimally healthy life:
|Genes - genotype||Genomics|
|RNA - expression levels||Transcriptomics|
Often when I coach people, I get them to either visualize or meditate on their tree. This helps to see yourself as an integrated being and guides you towards making better choices. If you would like to get started in defining your tree, you can book a session with me online:
And always remember this beautiful quote when thinking of yourself as like a tree:
"Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind". - Brue Lee
Founder of MY DNA CHOICES
BA (Speech, Hearing & Lang Therapy) Hons | FMCHC | ReCODE Coach | Men's Health | HMX Genomics & Biochemistry (Candidate)