Genetics For Exercise & Nutrition
How Your Test Results Are Used
Genetic testing to guide decision making around an overall healthier lifestyle, sports and training programs is relatively new. We here at Genetic Fitness Matrix, Inc. aims to inform the client about the many benefits of genetic testing to include how this cutting edge technology is changing the health, wellness and fitness industry, rather rapidly.
We Need Your Informed Consent
It is generally recommended that informed consent of the person being tested be documented before engaging in genetic testing. This is typically obtained by having you fill out our health questionnaire, and sign the consent form.
During your initial consultation with us, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and get the information you need as you embark on this excited scientific journey to better health and a better quality of life.
Currently the majority of states require a physician order for a laboratory test. A small number of states support limited consumer ordering called, “direct access testing.” Labs that offer consumer-centric services often work with an independent network of physicians that assist with test ordering, which is what we do at Apollos.
Reputable companies will follow the recommendations of the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS, 2012)
Endurance vs. Power
Most genetic tests involving exercise include variants associated with determining endurance, mixed, or power athletic types. In Webborn’s 2015 review, the most commonly tested genetic variant was ACTN3 R577X, which is associated with fast twitch muscle fiber type.
Current studies suggest that you cannot use one variant alone to identify performance type, it is more accurate when multiple variants are used (Ahmetov, 2015), so this is something to assess in the report and determine if the genetic test, plus observation of your clients endurance and power, are sufficient to make recommendations.
If so, some suggestions include tailoring training programs based on the test results to appropriately increase anaerobic capacity or strength, and to modify loads, intensity, and repetitions to better fit the athletes endurance/power strengths and capabilities (Kambouris, 2012).
It has been suggested by Kambouris in his 2012 review that this type of information could be beneficial in determining a position on the field, or if an athlete is undecided, a sport to pursue.
Test results may address pre-disposition to overuse injuries, such as Achilles tendinopathy or ACL tear. For example, the genetic variant rs1800012 in the COL1A1 gene is associated with Achilles tendon issues.
There have been two recommendations on how to approach managing injury pre-disposition. Training programs to strengthen and protect the anatomy at risk, and education of the athlete on signs and symptoms of injury that shouldn’t be ignored (Kambouris, 2012).
A recent meta-analysis reviewing clinical trials of neuromuscular training programs promoted by the FIFA Medical and Research Centre (F-MARC) was able to conclude that F-MARC programs that target muscle strength, body kinesthetic awareness, and neuromuscular control reduced injury rates in soccer players, including Achilles tendon problems and ACL tears, by 20-50% (Attar, 2015).
A similar program may be considered for someone with a genetic pre-disposition to Achilles and/or ACL tears. Education and awareness have also been suggested. Kambouris (2012) and colleagues recommend that athletes with the COL1A1 variant be educated about tendon injury and to pay attention to minor aches and pains rather than ignore them, to massage the calf after intense activity, and to stay on top of checking tendons for pain, strains, or unusual findings.
Exercise & Nutrition
Genetic research into exercise and nutrition is a robust field that is growing rapidly over time. Searching the terms “genetic” and “exercise” and “nutrition” in PubMed, the US National Library of Medicine search engine (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed as accessed on Oct 30, 2015) reveals over 6,000 studies for genetics and exercise, and 14,000 for genetics and nutrition.
It is not possible to review all of the variants that these companies test for, but a few are reviewed below.
Genetic data can be interpreted for a variety of nutritional implications including vitamin levels, iron absorption, lipid processing, and glucose metabolism (Hindorff, 2015). For example, individuals with two copies of the genetic variant rs1800562 in the HFE gene are at high risk for iron overload (hemochromatosis) that can result in fatigue and a variety of other symptoms that can ultimately lead to organ failure (Seckington, 2015).
Iron supplementation in athletes who have hemochromatosis can make their condition worse and should be avoided (Kambouris, 2012).
Another example is rs2282679 in the VDR gene. This variant is associated with reduced levels of vitamin D and low bone mineral density (Wang, 2010). Knowing that an athlete has this variant may lead to increased screening for vitamin D deficiency, bone density issues, and allow for more personalized nutritional guidance.