Genes in action: Protect your heart health

Last updated: 15 July 2021

A healthy heart is among the most important factors for general health and longevity. Cardiovascular diseases are a serious threat to global health, but luckily, they are mostly preventable. Discover how, and how genes can help you – on a real-life case.

Health requires constant commitment. For example, when was the last time you had your cholesterol levels measured with a blood test? Or critically evaluated what you put on your plate every day? What about how physically active you are?

Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases

The questions above point to the most important risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

World Health Organization states that most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioural risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol.

If you’d like to read more about its importance and the difference between good and bad cholesterol, head to our blog.

When Tom and Jack went to their regular medical checkup, both found out that they have elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol. Add to the mix their high BMI, and their risk of cardiovascular diseases increases significantly.

To get as much information as possible about what their body needs, they did a DNA test. It revealed their genetic predispositions for traits related to sports, nutrition, and general lifestyle. Based on their DNA test results, Tom and Jack also received personalised recommendations. They will help them address their health risks and build a healthier lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at some of their DNA and blood test results!

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Tom: Focus on sports

Tom has a genetic predisposition for low levels of adiponectin, a beneficial hormone which promotes higher HDL (good) cholesterol and lower triglycerides & LDL (bad) cholesterol. He also has less effective omega-3 metabolism, which increases his risk of EPA and DHA deficiency. Those are two omega-3 fatty acids with numerous health benefits, including supporting a healthy heart.

He has a warrior gene and high aerobic potential, which indicates that his body is built for endurance. Physical activity helps lower high blood cholesterol, so Tom will have to stop with the excuses and start putting that potential to good use!

Intensive physical activity is stressful for the body, but as a warrior, he can handle stress easier and even feel better after a rigorous workout. But even warriors will benefit from eating healthy carbs immediately after a workout, which will reduce their body’s stress response.

Along with replacing couch for a treadmill, Tom has to mind proper nutrition; especially regularly including fish and seafood to his daily menu. Because he is likely to lack EPA and DHA fatty acids, he can also consider adding them as supplements.

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Jack: Control stress

Despite Jack’s predisposition for high adiponectin levels, his cholesterol levels are increased – possibly due to unhealthy nutrition, physical inactivity, and obesity. After all, even stress can contribute, and Jack reacts to it less favourably. Having an effective omega-3 metabolism, he can meet his requirements by eating walnuts, chia seeds, and linseeds (in addition to fish and seafood).

With physical activity, he has to take a different approach than Tom. Jack has average aerobic potential, which means that a rigorous workout regime will most likely put his body under even more stress, which he, a worrier, should avoid.

Being a worrier means that he is most productive in a calm environment without stress. But since physical activity is a key component of a healthy lifestyle, he should not neglect it.

Jack will benefit the most from regular low-intensity workouts and taking the time to relax afterwards. Ideal for him are jogging, walking, yoga, tai chi, and relaxation techniques to help him cope with everyday stress.

Because we can’t escape stress entirely, Jack also needs to adjust other aspects of his life to minimise its negative effects. When it comes to nutrition, adding foods rich in antioxidants will give his body the tools necessary to fight stress hormones. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, spinach, dark chocolate, and blueberries are excellent choices and easy to include in every meal.

It’s your turn!

Like Jack and Tom, your first step to a healthy heart is getting to know your body – your predispositions with a DNA test and your current state with a blood test. Both come with personalised recommendations similar to the ones you see in the picture above. They will outline your path to a healthy heart.

If you’re eager to start, discover the best tips for a healthy heart and be physically active every day – your heart will love it!

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