We seem to have a fascination with our DNA. Think of all those murder mysteries where they take the two empty glasses or a single hair and analyze the DNA to find the killer! But beyond solving murders, can we improve our health by knowing  our genetic information? 

For the next few blog posts, we are going to look further into DNA and genes, and what our genes can tell us. I use genetic testing with the majority of my clients and find it very helpful, as part of the big picture. Maybe you’ve been wondering about getting your genes tested with  23andme or a similar laboratory like DNAlife? Or perhaps you’ve already had your test done but didn’t really understand the results or didn’t know what to do about them?

We’ll begin with the basics today. Here are a few videos that are really good at bringing you back up to date on what genetics is all about (probably been a few years since you’ve learned about it at school?).  

DNA and genes

DNA is present in all living things. It is the same molecule – it’s just that the order of letters in the code varies to make each organism different. And what exactly do genes do? See this first video – it will take about one minute. 

What is DNA and genes: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/dna/

What is inheritance?

Comparing our parents with ourselves and siblings lets us see inheritance at work. Where did those blue eyes come from? Look at that curly hair on your mother’s side of the family, etc. You might think that these kinds of traits relate to just one gene that is passed down but, in fact, more of the traits we inherit are influenced by multiple genes. But a single gene can also influence more than one trait. Find out more (two minutes): 

What is inheritance: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/inheritance/

What are traits?

But what about nature vs nurture? It’s not all just inheritance. Some of our traits are inherited (such as eye color) and some are shaped by the environment (musical taste for instance) and some are affected by both inheritance and environment (such as height). This video will take about 1.5 minutes.

What are traits: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/traits/

What is a mutation?

We tend to think of mutations as bad or undesirable. But actually, it’s useful to think of a mutation as a process that creates genetic variation. Some mutations are easily repaired by the cells. Others are not repaired. Many mutations have no effect at all on the organism. It is this kind of variation that is explored in genetic testing. 

 

Next week we’ll look at more genetic stuff. Stay tuned by signing up to receive blog posts by email twice a week. The sign up is on the right hand sidebar.

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