Most of us know about genetic testing which can tell you about inherited traits such as hair or eye color. But what if you could test specific genes to figure out exactly how your body reacts to food? You could see if any number of vitamins are actually bad for you or tailor the perfect diet.
Ginny Felch is motivated to take better care of herself.
"My mother had a heart attack, a pretty bad one when she was 52."
To help make sure the same thing didn't happen to her, Felch worked with a nutritionist and signed up for something called nutrigenomics testing. A simple blood test examined her genes to see how her body processes nutrients.
"Take advantage of this new science that's developing more and more every single day, why not do it?"
The results showed she has a gene mutation that prevents her from processing folate properly. To compensate, the nutritionist recommended more leafy greens Felch's diet.
Felch also found out another one of her genes may mess with her cholesterol.
"I discovered that I had an increased risk of heart disease and stroke."
Part of the solution? The nutritionist took Felch off of fish oil supplements.
The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said the tests allow experts to tailor individual plans like never before.
"Looking at genomic testing we can see how somebody metabolizes protein or how somebody metabolizes sugar, and so we can get an idea of their risk of metabolic syndrome, for instance. We can see their risk for cancer or even heart disease,' said Sonya Angelone, Spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
A handful of companies offers the genomic testing. It's generally not covered by insurance and can run a couple hundred dollars.
Felch considers it money well spent.
"I'm already experiencing some health benefits, like more energy, and I feel, I just feel so much better."
Some employers also offer the testing to employees subsidizing the cost with the understanding that in the end, the employee will be saving money on health care expenses.
Genetic testing could help people live healthier lives