How an insight into your genes helps you to develop resilience

From gene testing which may have excited your curiosity about your ancestry, fast-paced developments in gene testing now offer practical and powerful scientific insights into genetic predispositions affecting your health and well-being. The value of such gene testing is increased by the power of choice and an understanding of epigenetics. 

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Gene testing

Your DNA is unique (unless you are an identical twin with shared DNA). You cannot change your genes. You can, however, influence the activity of specific genes, in response to environmental factors like your food choices. Epigenetics refers to the effect of environment (food and lifestyle) on the genetic template of the DNA. Quite simply, your food and lifestyle choices influence your health outcomes. A deep dive into your own DNA helps you to make the choices for your positive health outcomes. 

Gene testing now provides you with the opportunity to clarify specific gene variants which are having or may have an impact on your health and well-being. Epigenetics helps you to prevent health conditions and optimise well-being. Through specific gene tests  you can discover what you need to do to build the resilience to cope better with stressful events and to improve your physical and mental wellbeing.


Resilience

Maybe you see resilience as gritty, impermeable determination? This may conflict with a view of perseverance in which emotion and creativity flourish. Rather than “true grit”, a valid definition of resilience refers to adaptability in stressful situations. A more searching definition allows for the perception of challenge rather than threat in the stressful situation, and the challenge as an opportunity for personal growth. With adaptability and challenge, there is no conflict with the emotional connection and creative freedom in art, poetry and music.

There are many situations of everyday life which call for some resilience. There are also more exceptional situations which demand high levels of resilience. Our responses to stress belong to our ancestral survival mechanism which protected our ancestors against dangers. Stressors of today are more likely to be psychological than the physical dangers our ancestors faced. You’re not likely to come across a sabre-toothed tiger in the street. But you are likely to face a wide range of pressures in ordinary life, such as deadlines, exam situations or interviews.

You may face pressures from less common situations, like auditions, competitions or public performances. In all these situations activation of the stress response (by the nervous system) has a positive advantage, mobilising your physiology for physical and mental activity. This has the effect of sharpening your focus for the task in hand. Sometimes, however, the system may be overwhelmed. Stressors in daily life may become relentlessly repetitive or demoralisingly ongoing. Demands or competition may be exceptionally high. 

Resilience supports you to manage the frustrations, knockbacks and uncertainties of daily life or exceptional situations. Resilience does not only benefit those in leadership roles or competitive sports. Resilience also benefits those in creative artistic roles. 


Specific gene variants

Although the stressors may not always be within your control, there are factors that are within your control, to support your responses. A DNA test profile helps you to understand your responses more clearly. These insights empower you to make the changes to help you cope better with stressful events, whether in everyday life situations or in exceptional situations requiring peak performance.

There are many strategies to support stress management and develop resilience, such as exercise, nutrients, relaxation, social support and cognitive perceptions. Under the surface of all of these, however, is the fundamental system of your own neurochemistry, the realm of hormones and neurotransmitters. Your neurochemical pathways support your responses to stress and your resilience.

Gene testing has revealed that genes are influential in the neurochemical pathways affecting resilience. Variations in these genes have been identified affecting the potential to develop resilience. Clear interplay has been demonstrated between these genes and the environment, the realm of epigenetics. Identified genetic variants in these pathways respond well to food and lifestyle choices, for a positive impact on your capacity to strengthen your resilience.

DNALife Resilience is a test analysing seven pathways known to affect resilience, including the stress axis (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis), serotonin and dopamine. Each of the associated gene variants analysed in the test is actionable through environmental changes known to improve the gene’s activity.

Together, the results of the seven areas define a profile of your genetic capacity for resilience, identifying the gene variants supporting areas of strength and the gene variants presenting potential hurdles. Some gene variants contribute to your capacity for resilience and these need to be nurtured. Each of the variants which is compromised may be influenced by specific food or lifestyle choices, to strengthen your capacity to develop resilience. 


Personalised nutrition with gene tests

A DNA resilience test helps you to get to know yourself and understand your neurochemistry, with the guidance of a practitioner trained in Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics. The highly accessible report identifies clear focus areas for your  interventions to strengthen your capacity to develop resilience and support your health and well-being. Practitioner guidance supports you in implementing changes to your diet and lifestyle in a step-by-step plan.

By improving your resilience you are also supporting your physical and mental health.

Working with me starts with a free online well-being review. Why not book your discovery call to find out how a program with a DNA test could help you?


References

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Ruardean, Gloucestershire, GL17
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Written by Jane Hickey, DipNT mBANT rCNHC
Ruardean, Gloucestershire, GL17

Jane, a registered Nutritional Therapist, trained in Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics, specialises in the health and wellbeing of musicians with one to one programmes to support conditions associated with music performance.

Jane is also available for talks to groups and has a special interest in supporting music students.

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