Anti-ageing is the current buzzword in
the global beauty industry. With large
investments being pumped into this
segment, brands are going all out to cater to
different needs, with many even opting for the
customisation route. According to a research
by Global Industry Analytics Inc, the global
anti-ageing market is expected to cross $260
billion by 2020. The research also states that
the Asia-Pacific anti-ageing market is the
fastest growing one, globally. The Indian antiageing industry too is witnessing consistent
growth. But do these products actually
Skin ageing and concerns are greatly influenced by genetics. According to studies, a human body houses around 25,000 different genes, out of which 1,500 may impact skin health. These genes, to a great extent, are responsible for the skin behaviour like determining skin type (oily, dry, or combination), skin concerns (acne, pigmentation, or blemishes) and ageing (wrinkles, fine lines, or crow’s feet). This is the reason why some people start to show signs of ageing in their twenties while some have younger-looking, healthy skin even in their late forties.
“Our skin goes through intrinsic ageing as we get older. It varies from person to person based on the genetics and the body’s internal processes. Things like the quality of skin, elasticity, acne, dark circles, hair quality as well as quantity, body hair, stretch marks are all predetermined by our genes,” explains Dr Jamuna Pai, cosmetic physician, author, and founder of SkinLab.
To make informed health choices based on one’s genetic makeup, experts from FutureMed explain why genetic testing is beneficial. Genetic testing uses laboratory methods to look at your genes, which are DNA instructions you inherit from your parents. Genetic tests may be used to identify increased risks of health problems, to choose treatments, or to assess responses to treatments. Understanding the science behind genetics helps people make informed choices. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is simply a point in our DNA where a biologically meaningful variation occurs in greater than one per cent of the population. This deviation can range from having no effect at all to completely changing the way proteins in the body operate. SNPs act as ‘biological markers’ that help scientists analyse genetic differences associated with human health and disease. It’s these variations which affect the body's response to nutrients, exercise, medications and more. Study of these genes, SNPs and variations allows for more detailed and actionable reports. Decisions regarding dietary habits, fitness, nutrition, and weight management benefit from genetic testing.
Genetics has a major role in determining
healthy skin. However, it’s not the only factor.
When it comes to ageing, genetics coupled
with external factors decide the rate at which
you start showing the first signs of ageing.
“Skin ageing is part genetics, and rest are
external factors such as sun exposure, stress,
and lifestyle choices,” adds Dr Pai. This means
that the genes you are born with do have
an impact on the ageing process but their
mutation over time affects the ageing rate.
“All genes do not affect in the same way; there are recessive and dominant traits. Ultimately
the traits in the offspring may not behave in
the same pattern and deviate substantially,”
explains Dr Apratim Goel, dermatologist and
laser surgeon, Cutis Skin Solution, Mumbai.
The change in genetic makeup is attributed to the body’s will to fight free radicals and external factors like environment and lifestyle. “Studying genetics for skin ageing is not a definitive but predictive step. This history helps dermatologists assess skin and hair concerns in patients. It helps to understand the chances for a patient to develop certain skin conditions like acne, scars, stretch marks, freckles, sun spots, vitiligo, and alopecia,” adds Dr Goel.
Genetics also help dermatologists understand the body’s ability to produce collagen, certain hormones, and proteins that are responsible for skin and hair ageing. In short, genetics can help predict signs of ageing early on, but external factors are responsible for aggravation or prevention of these signs. “Take a look at your parents’ skin to see how you will age. I have seen young adults in their twenties with deep laugh lines because it’s a family trait. Likewise, one of the most common and also an irreversible reason for hair loss and premature balding is genetics, passed down from either your mother’s or father’s side of the family,” adds Dr Pai
While genes determine the skin’s ageing process, it doesn’t mean you inherit the same skin concerns as your mother or grandmother. A predictive measure, prior genetic testing can give a fair assumption regarding your predisposition to a certain skin concern. “Typically, we go back two generations, if the information is available, and map for certain skin conditions. Barring genetic skin disorders, which have a certain pattern of inheritance, most of the other skin concerns respond to early prevention remedies,” says Dr Goel. However, genetic testing doesn’t mean the effect can be reversed, it just ensures timely redressal to the skin concern.
We asked a few people about beauty hacks they borrowed from their mothers to fight signs of ageing. Here’s what they have to say: Simran Desai Marathe, a patissier by profession says, “My mother has lovely thick eyebrows. She used to follow a few home remedies when she was in college. Although, I am blessed with long, arched brows similar to hers, I still follow her hack of applying castor oil on my brows and lashes. It does make a difference. She also applies homemade masks to maintain flawless skin. I use a mix of lemon juice, aloe vera, and vitamin E for clear, supple skin.” Stay-at-home mother of a seven-year-old, Ruchi Kulkarni, says, “My mother asked me to stay away from chemicals. Instead, she convinced me to use a homemade mask—a mix of honey, turmeric, saffron and few drops of milk. This has helped me achieve smooth and healthy skin like her. The mask removes tan, and gives you an instant photo-ready face.” School teacher Shefali Bathla who’s blessed with problem-free skin, credits her mother for passing on the genes to her. She, however, adds, “It’s also because I followed the same home remedies that worked for her. I still wash my face with milk at least thrice a week. Also, my mother dealt with premature greying of hair in her twenties. Therefore, she was careful with me and washed my hair with shikakai and amla (Indian gooseberry). Thanks to that, I have healthy and long hair now.”
Doctors always want to get it right the first time when treating their patients, but in reality
the strategy to making it “just right” is more like Goldilocks approach. When a patient
comes in for a diagnosis, the doctor has the following options- aggressive, mild or standard.
Most patients have prescribed a standard treatment, some may do well while others do not get
any benefit or may even experience severe side effects. In such cases, new medicine will be
recommended and the same cycle will continue. This trial and error may have been
acceptable earlier, but in today’s age when adverse drug reactions are considered to be the
the fourth leading cause of death worldwide and has almost doubled in India since the last three
years, clinicians need to do better especially when the stakes are high, the advance of
the disease is rapid and cost-effectiveness is a must.
Most of the drugs that are currently available are one-size fits all but there is no guarantee that they will work the same way for everyone. It is estimated that on an average 15-35 per cent of patients have an adequate or no response to beta-blockers while 10-20 per cent of patients do not respond to antipsychotic therapies initially (Indian Journal of Human Genetics, 2011). Studies conducted by JIPMER, SGPGI and Gangaram Hospital (Delhi) also indicate that 30 per cent of Indians are sensitive to certain drugs such as clopidogrel, an anti-platelet agent widely used to treat cardiovascular diseases, subjecting both patients and their doctors to greater uncertainty, often entailing huge costs- physical as well as financial especially for the patients.
How an individual responds to a particular drug – positive or negative, is determined by a number of factors such as gender, age, lifestyle, environment, state of health, organ function, drug-drug interaction as well variations in the genetic make-up, which accounts for nearly 95 per cent of the variability in drug metabolisation and its effect. Thus information from pharmacogenetic testing is imperative, not only to understand how well the body responds to the drugs but also the exact dosage that is needed to treat the ailment.
When a medicine is taken, the body needs to absorb it, distribute it to the intended area, metabolise it and finally excrete the non-utilised part either through urine, bile or sometimes exhalation. Genetic variations influence each and every aspect of this process including how well your body breaks down a particular drug. So if an individual has a mutation that breaks down a drug very quickly the body will use the drug faster and the person will require a higher dosage of the medicine to be effective. Similarly, if the body breaks down the drug slowly a lower dosage would be advisable
Research has shown that more than 85 per cent of patients tend to have significant genetic variations in the most important cytochromes, responsible for metabolising half of the medicines in clinical use. For instance, the CYP2D6 gene helps to breakdown and terminates the actions of certain beta-blockers, antidepressants, neuroleptics and antiarrhythmics drugs but approximately seven per cent of the population have a variant that makes them an intermediate or poor metaboliser, while 35 per cent are carriers of nonfunctional allele of this gene, increasing the risk for toxicity and adverse reactions even on low dosage. Therefore if a doctor is prescribing citalopram or amitriptyline to treat depression it is advisable that they ask their patients to undergo pharmacogenomic testing to decide the correct dosage or choose a different drug for greater efficacy and safety.
doctors can also use pharmacogenetic testing to determine the correct treatment for various types of cancers. For instance, breast cancer can be treated by the T-DM1 drug, which works by attaching itself to the HER2 receptors on the cancerous cells. A sample of the tumour can be tested to determine whether there is a mutation that produces too much of HER2. If the the test is positive and the tumour has a high amount of HER2, only then T-DM1 should be prescribed because if the tumour does not have HER2 the T-DM1 drug will not work well for the patient.
Pharmacogenomics can redefine the way drugs are developed and chosen for the patients. By understanding, the genetics behind a patient’s response to therapy doctors can not only reduce adverse drug reactions but also significantly lower healthcare costs by reducing the duration the patients are on medications as well as the number of medications a person might take to find an effective treatment. To this end and to make precision medicine a reality FutureMed offers pharmacogenetic tests for cardiology, neurology, psychiatry and cancer to help doctors support their patients with accurate information and the best possible course of action.
Are the medicines prescribed to treat your illness causing more
harm than help, do you want
correct early diagnosis for better treatment. Not able to lose
those extra kilos to keep obesity and heart problems at bay?
Confused about which supplements to take? Still figuring out
how to tackle such issues? Fear
not as help is already here.
Your DNA holds the answer to
the above questions.
DNA is the basic building block of the human body containing all the information necessary to make you, run you and repair you. No two people, except for identical twins, are genetically identical. These variations lead to different processes in our body and affect how our body responds to different macro-nutrients, vitamins and minerals, exercise and certain medications. Genetic tests may be used to identify increased risks of health problems, to choose treatments, or to assess response to treatments. Early diagnosis through clinical genomics can help to identify risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. This means that your genes can determine all the answers necessary for achieving a healthy body and truly knowing yourself and what works for you in terms of nutrition as well as the medications needed to treat certain conditions. For example, specific variations in gene MTHFR lead to high homocysteine levels and low metabolism of folate in the body. Individuals with these specific mutations need supplements because their body cannot convert folate to methyl folate, resulting in higher homocysteine levels, which in turn leads to atherosclerotic vascular diseases or thrombosis.
Unlocking the secrets of one’s genetic code used to be expensive and confined to very few laboratories worldwide, but advancement in next-generation sequencing (NGS) and genotyping technologies have brought the costs down and has enabled the business of DNA to help medical professionals make recommendations for a person’s food intake, dosage of medications to avoid adverse drug reactions as well as providing all the information a person needs for proactive and preventive health planning. The aim is to move from one size fits all approach to something that is highly personalised and as such completely changes how people perceive their overall health and well-being.
These genetic tests areas common as pathology tests in the US and many countries in Europe. But in India, the genetic testing market is still in the nascent stage. According to ICMR, the addressable market for these tests is 500,000 people but actually should be in millions. Any person can take the test. The younger the better as the test provides all the information that can help you to play to your genetic strengths or sidestep some of your inherited challenges.
Innovation is a driving change in the healthcare industry in India. Your genes are not your destiny but can certainly determine the health of your future. To this end, I believe that there is a gap in the market for personalised wellness solutions including bespoke skin products, as well as nutrition and fitness programmes because if you can tailor your clothes and shoes, why can’t you tailor your wellness solutions. Therefore apart from the tests Futuremed is also the first company in India to offer nutritional supplements that will be customised according to an individual’s DNA.
Traditionally, nutrition management has focussed on a stop-n-go strategy wherein individuals consume mega doses of a particular macro-nutrient for a short period of time. However, such an approach poses a risk of toxicity and is ineffective when it comes to maintenance of the body’s internal environment to fortify cellular protection, repair and regeneration and to support the renewal process.
Sometimes the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) defined as the non-toxic dose that should be consumed on a daily basis to maintain healthy plasma concentration of nutrients and is not enough because genetic variations may predispose an individual to have a decreased level of macronutrients. Such individuals require a more personalised approach to nutrition management.
Futuremed as a company with their highly skilled team of molecular biologists, bioinformaticians, accompanied by a scientific data-driven approach and state of the art laboratory is helping in creating awareness among clinicians and wellness experts to offer smart and efficient solutions to individuals. The company is providing genetic tests not only in the wellness space of nutrition, weight loss, fitness and skin but is also helping people determine their risk for developing diseases ranging from cancer, neuro to cardiovascular and various other conditions. In addition tests are also offered in the field of pharmacogenetics / precision medicine and autoimmune diseases. The aim is to make inroads in this nascent market with the target of making these tests accessible and affordable for all thus making genetic screening a routine part of health care in India.
NEW DELHI: The government is exploring recreational genetics, a new area in the field of genome testing, for reducing India’s disease burden.
Private DNA testing laboratories offering recreational genetics tests are already burgeoning in India. Now, the department of biotechnology (DBT) has initiated a programme called human genetics and genome analysis in which the country’s genetic resource is being utilized to develop baseline data initially on various ethnic groups for disease susceptibility.
“We are focusing on improving human health by promoting the development and dissemination of genomic methodologies and tools for prediction and prevention of human disease, and for therapeutic intervention. The aim is to improve disease management through lifestyle modulation, improvement in public health, reduction of disease burden, and lowering of treatment cost with more genetic laboratories and trained personnel in the area," said Renu Swarup, secretary at DBT. Several private laboratories are using recreational genetic tests to offer a tailor-made lifestyle, diet, weight loss, and disease prevention plan for each individual for maintaining optimal health and fitness.
While recreational genetic tests are common in the US and several European countries, in India the genetic testing market is still at a nascent stage. The addressable market for recreational genetic tests is 500,000, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). This could actually be in millions, industry experts claim. “As genetic testing can reveal how one’s genes behave and respond, personal genetic information can provide data that can help people make more informed health-related decisions about their lifestyle, goals, dietary habits, fitness, nutrition and weight management," said Chandni Luthra, director and co-founder, FutureMed, a Delhi-based biotechnology company.
Research is also on to establish the link between genetics and obesity. “At present, we are not ready for genetic tests to predict weight loss. However, there are some encouraging leads and, for the first time, we are doing research on this issue in India," said Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology and National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation.
Companies such as FutureMed are offering genetic tests for skin, hair, detox, pharmacogenomics, a branch of genetics used to determine the likely response of an individual to therapeutic drugs and diagnostic of diseases such as cancer. The company also offers customized vitamin supplements based on an individual’s nutritional genetic profile.
“Genetic screening, especially in the wellness space, is a new concept," said Luthra .Another diagnostics laboratory chain in India, specializing in genetics, CORE Diagnostics, offers recreational genetic tests such as geneCORE Predict, where sequencing and analysing the genome of an individual, a geneticist can predict the risk, genetic carrier status of 22 types of cancers, and the likelihood of passing it on to the next generation.
Similarly, in liquiCORE test, helps patients decide the drugs and medical approaches suitable for them. “Diverse purposes of genetic testing have already been identified, like screening for genetic diseases in newborns, children and adults. The cost of genetic testing varies between₹5,000 and ₹5 lakh. However, the more important aspect is the counselling session with the healthcare provider that can help zero in on the correct test out of the plethora of choices," said Zoya Brar, MD and founder of CORE Diagnostics.
“An important part is to visit a genetic counsellor or a healthcare professional as they are trained professionals who play a key role in helping patients get the care that’s right for them. They work with patients to help them understand genetic testing, guide them through the process and make informed choices based on their results," said Brar.
I'm a lazy girl, always have been, probably always will be. The thought of getting up at the crack of dawn for any kind of fitness activity terrifies me. Going home at the end of the day knowing I will probably find my fitness trainer smiling and waiting on me, has never been something I've looked forward to. And to make matters worse, I haven't found a potato chip I don't like. I love food. Like really, really love it more than anything in the world you will never find me cutting corners with my meals. If a recipe calls for full fat cream, bring it on. If I'm craving Vietnamese coffee, condensed milk is where it's at. Calories, who? Over the years, I've tried my hand at every diet and fitness fad, only to slide back into my usual routine where working out remains a dystopian idea and buttery popcorn is an acceptable pre-dinner snack. Then a few months ago I started to dig deeper; could it be possible that I was built that way? Could I have inherited a gene that makes it impossible for me to make friends with the kettle bell and the downward dog? Are bread and milk (the two things I love the most) behind all my health woes? I turned to FutureMed India, a company that tests your DNA to reveal genetic disorders and identify genetic risks and drug and food allergies. Armed with the info about your genes, they work with a team of clinicians, skin specialists, nutritionists and fitness trainers to offer personalised medicine and wellness insights. I spoke to Chandni Luthra, Director FutureMed India, to understand and decode the relationship between what you eat and what you become, and this is what I found out.
Your genes contain all the information to make you, run you and repair you. Genetic testing equips a person with information wherein you know what variants of genes an individual has, as well as how a person metabolises macronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Why people choose the foods that they do (greater propensity for salt or sugar), an individual's weight loss, their post injury recovery speed and endurance capabilities, can all be found via this. Every person has two copies of each gene, one inherited from each parent. Genetic testing uses laboratory methods to identify variations, mutations that are slight changes in the genetic code, present in at least one percent of the population. It's important to note that the test result is 99 per cent accurate [though even this can create many disparities]. DNA does not change throughout a person's life unless subjected to extreme radiation or space travel, therefore the results will remain the same, unlike a blood test that can be manipulated if you are on your best behaviour prior to the test.
Genetic testing has been recognised as the only scientific method of preventive care. Preventive measures tend to be more effective when one identifies the risk with more accuracy. Cardio-metabolic diseases like hypertension, cardiomyopathy, obesity and Type 2 diabetes can be correctly predicted by analysing the gene variant of an individual. The test tells you whether you are at high risk of developing the disease so that you can alter your lifestyle to delay its onset. Educating yourself about your own genetic information will provide personal data that can help you make more informed health-related decisions about your lifestyle, goals, dietary habits, fitness, nutrition, and weight management. So if you have been struggling with health issues that don't seem to go away despite a seemingly well-balanced lifestyle, or you just want to understand your body at cellular level, a genetic test report will help clear up any doubts that stand between you and optimum wellness. Genetics are also extremely useful when it comes to nutritional deficiencies and supplementation. Traditionally, nutrition management has focused on a stop-and-go strategy, where individuals consume mega doses of a particular macronutrient for a short period of time. But this approach poses a risk of toxicity and is ineffective for maintaining the body's internal environment to fortify cellular protection, repair and regeneration, and to support the renewal process.
Your genes control whether you're likely to produce lactase as an adult. Lactose, a sugar in milk, is broken down by the enzyme lactase, which our bodies produce in the small intestines. For some people, the production of the lactase enzyme stops when they become adults, due to a variation near the LCT gene. This means that some adults are genetically predisposed to be unable to digest larger quantities of milk. Similarly, gluten intolerance manifests itself as celiac disease, occurring in genetically predisposed people where the inability to digest gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Gluten intolerance may even run in your family without anyone realising it. By looking at your specific allelic variants of your HLA family of genes, genetic testing can help you determine if genetics play a role in your gluten sensitivity. The verdict: Don't give up on lactose and gluten just yet if you're not diagnosed with these food sensitivities, because foods rich in lactose and gluten have other nutritional benefits and are commonly found in our daily diet.
For every one keto success story, there are at least a dozen keto disasters. The diet fad propagates consuming copious amounts of fats, but can your body handle it? Several genes influence how a person's body responds to different types of fats and cholesterol. Fats are not as bad we have been led to believe. They are in fact essential to maintaining a healthy body, but every person cannot metabolise them in the same way. Carriers of specific genetic mutations cannot handle high levels of dietary saturated fats as efficiently as non-carriers. For example, variation in the APOA2 gene found in 11-16 per cent of the world population leads to higher amount of weight gain in response to a diet high in saturated fats, in comparison to people who do not possess such a mutation. It is imperative that such carriers limit the intake of saturated fats to avoid the onset of diseases. Our genetic makeup affects how we metabolise omega-3, an essential fatty acid. Depending on one's genetic variation a person may be advised to up omega-3 intake as it is required to neutralise increased inflammation activity.
Exercise does not affect everyone the same way. You'll often hear "I spend more time in the gym than my friend but cannot lose even half as much weight as her". We can find these answers by analysing our DNA. Variations in the ACTN3 gene have been linked to how a person responds to exercise. If the response is low, it means a person will be required to focus more on diet control to lose weight. Injury is always a default risk when undertaking any form of exercise but some people appear to be more predisposed to injury than others and most of this based on genetics. Those with higher genetic injury risk need to adjust their workout plan to include more injury prevention exercises than an average person. Research has also shown that following a genetically matched workout plan can deliver up to three times better results. This is because your genetic makeup determines which type of exercise you respond best to, how prone you are to injuries as well as the recovery time post injury that may set you back. One can also ascertain information about lactic acid clearance, VO2 max (a test that measures a person's individual aerobic capacity by figuring out the maximum rate at which the heart, muscles and lungs use up oxygen while performing exercises), muscle's resistance to fatigue and can even asses the capacity of the muscles to regenerate all based on a person's unique genetic code. All this knowledge can then be used to devise a personalised training plan to maximise an individual's time and output in fitness centres and gyms.
You already knew this one, didn't you? A glance at your family tree can reveal how your skin will grow old. But here's the best part knowing how your gene is likely to affect your skin can also be a huge help in deciding how to take care of it. Apart from environmental factors and skin care routine; your skin is affected by a more permanent factor: genes. Everything from wrinkles, cellulite to inflammation and skin sagging is related to your genetic make-up, this is because the skin is made up of so many proteins. For example, collagen, which forms the basic structure in the skin, is a protein, so is melanin, the pigment, which gives skin its colour. Recent studies on twins have revealed that up to 60 per cent of variations between individuals can be attributed to genetic factors. This explains why some people start seeing wrinkles, fine lines, acne and skin discolouration in their early 20s while others only see skin trouble later on in their lives. Aged skin and youthful skin have different gene signatures and protein levels, with age and environmental exposure gene signatures and protein levels change and that change is because of alteration in gene expression. By understanding your predisposition to different skin conditions, an individual can make positive changes to eliminate, reduce or delay symptoms related to ageing through better choice of skin products, treatments and diet, confirms Luthra. Remember to take your DNA report to your dermatologist next time, to create a regimen that not only considers your skin type but also your family history.
"Mental disorders are health conditions that affect how a person thinks, feels, and acts. These disorders can impact a person's life in significant ways. To function correctly, each cell depends on thousands of proteins to do their jobs at the right places at the right times. Sometimes, gene mutations prevent one or more of these from working properly. By changing a gene's instructions to make protein, a mutation can cause it to malfunction or to be missing entirely. When a protein that plays a critical role in the body is altered, it can disrupt normal development or cause a medical condition. Research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has found that many mental disorders are caused by a combination of biological, environmental, psychological, and genetic factors. Scientists have also found that specific gene variants are associated with a higher risk of certain disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder or schizophrenia. Although recent studies have begun to identify the genetic markers associated with certain mental disorders that may eventually lead to better screening and more personalised treatment, it is still too early to use genetic tests or genome scans to accurately diagnose or treat mental illness. At present we can only test as to how a person metabolises the drugs used in treating anxiety and depression. This is extremely beneficial for the patient as it not only reduces trial and error with respect to the correct dosage but also helps to lower adverse effects ensuring better care."
If you're wondering what my DNA has revealed about my health, here's a short synopsis, after two swab kits and a bit of my saliva.
First, the bad news: my body doesn't metabolise fats very well, so no more than 20 per cent of my daily diet should include this food group. I have a deficiency of micro nutrients with decreased levels of B-group vitamins, iron and selenium. I also need to cut down on the salt and the sugary stuff (as if I needed another reminder!). While I don't need to let go of my beloved dairy and coffee anytime soon, my genes tell me to restrict whole milk consumption (yoghurt gets a thumbs up) and keep coffee a once a day affair. I'm also prone to ligament and tendon injuries, I've already suffered from ankle issues and severe calf cramps in the last few years. Oh, and my body absolutely hates working out I'm genetically programmed to get fatigued while performing exercises just knew it!
Now, the good: My weight gain is mainly hormonal and not so much to do with my diet, so I really gotta tame that (hormone) beast. I'm at a lower risk of obesity if I get on that treadmill and consume the yummy stuff in moderation. My genes also tell me that I will be svelte in no time if I just start the damned aerobic stuff and get my heart out there and up.
The bad: my skin is prone to damage and early ageing due to slightly increased oxidative stress. So time to get on the anti-pollution products wagon and keep the SPF levels high and sun exposure low. I'm also going to do a complete overhaul of my night-time skincare routine and invite all the antioxidant folks to join the party. I'm at an increased risk of glycation due to poor carbohydrate metabolism, so I really need to close the lid on those cakes and the cookies. My melanin production isn't performing as well as I'd like it to, so pigmentation will continue to be my biggest foe. My chance of developing wrinkles is high, so collagen supplements start today.
The good: My genes form an invisible sunscreen between me and the sun (thank you mom), so I can worry a little less about sun damage. There is less risk of inflammation with acid-based products, so I can continue to play cosmetic chemist my favourite thing ever. My skin has adequate levels of beta carotene, higher levels of plasma Vitamin C and moderate levels of Vitamin E, so I gotta keep up the good work and chow down more on almonds, hazelnuts, green leafy vegetables (ugh!); yellow fruits like pumpkin, mango, sweet potato, peach and the all citrusy stuff. Polyphenol rich foods like cloves, star anise, dark chocolate, turmeric, cinnamon will also help me along in my glow goals. High time I also start sipping on that yucky-tasting, but hugely skin friendly, detox green juice. Best news? Niacinamide, retinoids and hyaluronic acid will continue to be my BFFs for life.
Not able to lose those extra kilos? Confused about which supplements to take? Allergic to gluten? Prone to injury or pigmentation? Still figuring out how to tackle such issues? The answer to these and many other health dilemmas lies in your genes!
Gene variants can explain how a person metabolizes macronutrients, vitamins and minerals, why people choose the foods they do (why you crave that savoury chaat or that sweet gulab jamun), an individual’s weight loss propensity, as well as their post-injury recovery speed and endurance capabilities. Now, that’s a lot of information packed in your DNA that you are unaware of. The Human Genome Project, which completed the first map of human genome in 2003 has now made it possible to know what is happening in your body even before health conditions develop.
Your genes can determine all the answers necessary for achieving a healthy body and what works for you in terms of nutrition, as well as medications needed to treat certain conditions.
But, what does any of this mean for the average person like you and me? We already know that our genes are packed with our entire biological map, but so what? How do we get this information?
Unlocking the secrets of one’s genetic code used to be expensive and confined to very few laboratories world-wide, but advancement in next generation sequencing (NGS) and Genotyping technologies have brought the costs down. This has enabled the business of DNA to help medical professionals make recommendations for a person’s food intake, correct dosage of medications in order to avoid adverse drug reactions, as well as providing all the information a person needs for proactive and preventive health planning. This enables medical professionals to move from one-size fits all approach to courses of action that are highly personalized. There is a gap in the market for personalized wellness solutions including bespoke skin products, as well as nutrition and fitness programs. If you can tailor your clothes and shoes, why can’t you tailor your wellness solutions?
That’s right - DNA testing doesn’t only tell you how much Iranian or Russian blood you have in you. It’s about a lot more than that! And now, it is accessible to you so that you can figure out how many squats you should be doing, and how many carbs you should be consuming to meet your fitness goals. Two people respond to the same workout, and the same diet plan differently. This is why there is such a variety when it comes to the two, and also why, some people absolutely love one fitness regime, while others don’t. It’s not so much the legitimacy of the workouts or the diet charts, as it is about their compatibility with your body.
Now, how can you get your hands on an affordable and easily accessible DNA test? At FutureMed (Check out there website here). They will send you a kit at your doorstep, and all you have to do is send a swab of your cheek lining. Pick the profile you want - wellness, pharmacogenetics, or clinical genomics, and get a detailed analysis of your genes. If you’re opting for the wellness profile, which is what is ideal if you’re looking for insights to better your fitness regime, it’s available at a nominal price of 5760/- INR on their website (click here to book a kit).
I just got my results back from a genetic test. About a month ago a company called FutureMed reached out to me and asked if I’d be keen on having their test (a resounding yes), and one very simple and needle-less test later, I received an email with my results.
Here’s how it works: A rep from FutureMed will come to you. Don’t what I did and ask him to come to your work, because then you’ll have to suffer the excruciating indignity of having a purple latex be-gloved gentlemen do a slow face massage to get your salivary glands going before doing a buccal (cheek) swab at your desk, all this while the tech team and web team sitting on an adjacent table try not to stare. (My fault, not his.) At home it is, I imagine, a quick and not-mortifying procedure. Two cheek swabs on either side and voila, done. Two weeks later you’ll receive an email with your results.
I did the Wellness panel, which doesn’t assess for disease risk, but instead looks at your body’s genetic predispositions around eating, nutrition, and fitness. Results are split across sections that span eating habits, weight management, food intolerances, addictions, injury risk, aerobic/anaerobic capacity, and power and endurance training.
If you’re already fairly in-tune with your body this data might help you take your health to the next level. I found out, for example, that my genes predispose me to perform well when it comes to endurance workouts, and that too much focus on strength and weight training might cause me to build subcutaneous fat. I also found out that I am, in fact, likely to be gluten intolerant, but also (confusingly) that I’m not lactose intolerant (I’ll loop back to this in a minute). A lot of what I learned only qualified things I’d suspected: no tendency toward addictions, a definite tendency toward weight regain (boo hiss), and that my slow-twitch muscles work better than my fast-twitch ones. I already knew that I take ages to warm up and that I actually hit my stride about 30 minutes into a workout, when some people are starting to flag, and that gluten really doesn’t make me feel great. The lactose thing threw me for a bit of a loop though, because I wasn’t sure why, if I’m not intolerant, ice cream and milk products make me bloat like a balloon. Apparently, the doctor from FutureMed explained to me, it might mean that I’m having an immune reaction to dairy, and most people (me included) don’t know that there is a difference between the two issues.
All of this was fun and interesting to have confirmed though. It is one thing to have a sense of your body and what it likes and doesn’t like, but quite another to have it validated. Think of it as recreational genetics. The wellness panel that I had isn’t the same as the disease-specific genetic testing that might reveal startling and unsettling genetic tendencies, like the BRCA variations that increase breast cancer risk, or others that point toward a predisposition for Alzheimer’s. Would I even want to know, if I couldn’t change a thing about the prediction? I don’t know.
More to the point, how does it differ from regular bloodwork and lab tests? Lab work is blood-based, and actually your blood changes by the hour. When you eat, sleep, the time of day… these all contribute to an in-flux state. Your genes are DNA instructions you inherit from your parents and they are unique to you. DNA is the code our bodies use to make genes, and genes are, in a sense, instructions for our bodies. Gene testing looks for changes, mutations or variants that can either cause disease or put you at risk for developing a disease. DNA markers are impactful because it shows what genes you test positive for, but just because your genes say something doesn’t mean it is destined to be that way. That’s where blood work and regular lab tests come in, for blood markers which you can also change through diet and lifestyle.
What this test isn’t is an ancestry test (these exist, this just isn’t one of them). Instead, they’re looking at the genes specific to your query. In my case, the wellness test looked at the genes linked to diet and nutritional supplementation as well as response to exercise, injury risk etc. You could also, for instance, have a pharmacogenomics test which tells you drugs and drug doses that are likely to work best for you, combining pharmacology with genomics in a way that allows doctors to prescribe ones that are likely to work best for you.
Most interesting to me though was the MTHFR mutation, which I apparently have (as do 30-50% of the population). I’m not being rude, MTHFR is an abbreviation methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, and it is the thing that changes folic acid from one form to another form; it helps to change one amino acid building block, homocysteine, into another, methionine. Your body uses methionine to make proteins and other important compounds so this reaction is involved in lots of bodily processes, including DNA repair. Methylation is key to many processes in your body; it happens about a billion times every second, so if methylation isn't functioning well, neither are you. As a result, homocysteine doesn’t get recycled efficiently and builds up in the blood. It’s this buildup of homocysteine, doctors say, that can cause the problems associated with this gene mutation, such as blood clots, high blood pressure, and strokes.
Knowing you have the mutation is one thing, but the problem isn’t the MTHFR, it’s the amount of homocysteine in your blood. So the next step in knowing this is to then measure the level of homocysteine in your blood, and it’s only if it’s elevated could you then start to supplement vitamins like B6, B12 and folate, or folic acid. You could actually just go ahead and have that test directly, but you’re unlikely to be thinking about it at all unless it is flagged to you in some way, like this test did for me.
Actually, yes. I really enjoyed getting all this gene-health information, but it’s also important to point out that while your genes might indicate predispositions to various conditions, your lifestyle choices still have a mammoth role to play. The old view positioned genetics as an immutable force: ‘a family history of diabetes’, or high blood sugar, or stroke… that it was only a matter of time before the same fate befell you. Today, the field of epigenetics—aka the environmental factors that affect your DNA expression—confirms that even those ‘good’ or ‘bad’ genes are switched on and off by the world around us and the choices we make every day. Knowing is great, and a fantastic springboard to then working in the best possible way with your body to bolster weaknesses and help your body thrive.
FutureMed’s wellness panels start at Rs 5,750, and go up to Rs 10,000 for the triple combination, of weight, nutrition, and fitness. The autoimmune panel that tests for 14 diseases is Rs 15,000. For more information on disease, oncology, cardiology panels as well as personal gene sequencing, please contact FutureMed by calling them at +91-11-40106833/44, or via their website.
By Kreena Desai | August 18, 2018
Are you confused about what vitamin supplements to take? Or if you are allergic to gluten? Or why, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to lose weight? Well, we may have just stumbled upon the answer to all your most pressing health questions. A simple DNA test. FutureMed offers you non-invasive genetic testing that helps you identify health risks and choose appropriate treatments, as well as adopt a diet and health plan that is suitable to your specific needs. Sounds cool, no? Well, I decided to try it.
If you’re wondering how it went… well, let me explain.
It seems pretty cool to walk into work with a Starbucks cup of coffee every morning. But guess what. I did it for a week and it didn’t work out well for me! That one cup of coffee made my heart beat really fast, and I would feel jittery all day long. My assumption/theory about the effects of coffee on my body was confirmed when the scientist at Future Med told me that based on my genes, my body’s capacity to absorb caffeine is really low – so I should avoid it completely!
Genetic testing is fascinating because it isn’t like a regular blood test that would produce results based on the current state of the body. This test gives you results based on your genes, which are pretty much permanent! So you can actually get to the root of your health problems.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that 2 cotton swabs consisting of my saliva, shipped half way across the country in an envelope, could tell me so many details about my life. A 27-page report landed in my inbox, a few weeks after I sent my DNA sample, and I was surprised to know that it was not all chemistry jargon. It was in very basic language and talking to the scientist on the phone really helped, as she took me through the report in detail.
Here are some of the findings from my report. For starters, my B-complex levels were relatively low, so I was advised to increase my intake of that on a daily basis. As for addictions, the likelihood of me snacking or eating my feelings away is something I don’t need to worry about, but an addiction to alcohol is something I need to keep a check on. (Hope my parents aren’t reading this!) Along with signs of getting diabetes, so keeping a check on my sugar intake is vital for me, as well. When it came to my fitness, turns out running is not as effective as indulging in endurance-based exercises. So that’s something I’m going to be doing more of.
There are so many of us who feel like we are doing all the right things to stay fit and healthy, but every time something or the other goes wrong, and we have no clue what to do about it. Looking at this report helped me understand what can go wrong in the future and how I can start preventing it from today. The aim is to move from a one-size-fits-all approach to something that is highly personalised, and as such, completely changes how people perceive their overall health and well-being.
If you want to unlock the secrets of your genetic code and understand your body right from its core, contact FutureMed at [email protected] in order to adopt a customised health and fitness-based lifestyle.
By Rochelle Pinto August 10, 2018
Coffee is my kryptonite. Every time I make the mistake of succumbing to a hot brew — whether handpicked by nubile maidens in Ecuador or hand-poured at your neighbourhood theka — my body rewards me with heart palpitations, headaches and overwhelming regret. But I can't blame the coffee. Thanks to the recent results of a wellness genetic testing performed by FutureMed, I've discovered I'm genetically programmed to metabolise caffeine slower than normal human beings. And those annoying after-effects point to a decidedly unsexy future if ignored: heart disease.
Genetic testing is the newest frontier of humankind's obsession with staying younger and prettier while we sit behind desks all day and breathe in toxic city air. Unlike blood tests, where the results can be manipulated if you're on your best behaviour for a week prior, this is a one-time undressing of every dark, dirty secret your DNA has been hiding. A full wellness profile, like the 27-page document that arrived in my inbox from FutureMed after I casually mailed in two saliva-coated cotton swabs, can tell you if you're prone to obesity, which exercises work best for your genetic make-up, what supplements you will have to get into a life-long commitment with and, my personal favourite, whether you're likely to develop addictions. (Good news dad, I tested negative for both nicotine and alcohol dependency).
A genetic test will reveal whether you inherited your family's alcoholic streak
While the report is helpfully broken down into the simplest possible language, a scientist from the centre will walk you through what steps you need to take to turn that information into power over your own life. My report told me that yoga, B-complex supplements and controlled snacking should keep me out of any major trouble for the better part of my life, thanks to an elevated anaerobic capacity, low Vitamin B12 and a hardcoded tendency to eat my feelings.
So if you've been struggling with health issues that don't seem to go away despite a seemingly balanced lifestyle, or even if you just want to understand your body at a cellular level, a genetic test report will clear up any doubts that stand between you and optimum wellness.
Address: Future Med Devices Pvt. Ltd, D 124, Panchsheel Enclave, New Delhi 110017
Ph: + 91 11 40106833/44
Not able to loose those extra kilos? Confused about which supplements to take? Allergic to gluten? Prone to injury and pigmentation? Still figuring out how to tackle such issues? Fear not as help is already here. A simple cheek swab test to extract DNA holds the answer to the above questions.
DNA is the basic building block of the human body containing all the information necessary to make you, run you, and repair you. Gene variants can explain how a person metabolizes macronutrients and vitamins and minerals, why people choose the foods that they do (greater propensity for salt or sugar), an individual’s weight loss propensity as well as their post injury recovery speed and endurance capabilities.
The Human Genome Project, which completed the first map of human genome in 2003 along with the advancements in ways to identify individual genetic mutations, have now made it possible to know what is happening in a human body before health conditions develop. This means that genes can determine all the answers necessary for achieving a healthy body and what works best for individuals in terms of nutrition as well as the medication needed to treat certain conditions. For example, specific variations in gene MTHFR lead to high homocysteine levels and low metabolism of folate in the body. Individuals with these specific mutations need supplements because their body cannot convert folate to methyl folate, resulting in higher homocysteine levels, which in turn leads to atherosclerotic vascular diseases or thrombosis.
Unlocking the secrets of one’s genetic code used to be expensive and confined to very few laboratories worldwide, but advancements in next-generation sequencing (NGS) and genotyping technologies have brought the costs down and enabled the business of DNA to help medical professionals make recommendations for a person’s food intake, dosage of medication to avoid adverse drug reactions as well as provided all the information a person needs for proactive and preventive health planning. The aim is to move from a one-size fits all approach to something that is highly personalized and as such completely changes how people perceive their overall health and well-being.
These genetic tests are as common as pathology tests in the United States of America and many countries in Europe. But in India the genetic testing market is still in a nascent stage. According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the addressable market for these tests is 500,000 people but can actually be in millions. Every Indian should get tested as everyone has the right to know more about themselves and their bodies.
Innovation is a driving change in the healthcare industry in India. I believe that there is a gap in the market for personalized wellness solutions including bespoke skin products, as well as nutrition and fitness programs because if one can tailor their clothes and shoes, why not their wellness solutions too?
Futuremed as a company with their highly skilled team of molecular biologists, bio-informaticians, accompanied by a scientific data driven approach and state-of-the-art laboratory is helping in creating awareness among clinicians and wellness experts to offer smart and efficient solutions to individuals. The company is providing genetic tests not only in the wellness space of nutrition, weight loss, fitness, and skin but is also helping people determine their risk for developing diseases ranging from cancer, neuro to cardiovascular and various other conditions. In addition tests are also offered in the field of pharmacogenetics/precision medicine and autoimmune diseases. The aim is to make inroads in this nascent market with the target of making these tests accessible and affordable for all thus making genetic screening a routine part of healthcare in India.