August 20, 2014
[00:00] About Andrew Steele
[15:03] Relating Fitness & DNA
[18:18] On The Power-Endurance Profile
[25:19] On Aerobic Potential
[30:03] On Injury Risk
[33:47] On Taking Nutrients
[35:28] The Best Diet Based On Nutrition Testing
[39:10] On Saturated Fat Sensitivity
[42:21] Lactose Intolerance & Celiac Disease
[48:35] End of the Podcast
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield, and we've actually talked about DNA testing and the whole world of genetic testing and gene research on the podcast before. If you've been listening for a while, you may remember my interview with the author Spencer Wells who wrote this book called “Pandora's Seed” and the title of that podcast episode was “The Unforeseen Costs of Civilization And What You Can Do About It.“ We actually talk about genes from more of an ancestral standpoint and, you know, how the way we're living nowadays. It might actually influence our health based off of the way our ancestors lived, but we've actually come a pretty long way since that episode just a little over one year ago. For example, the genetic testing service 23andme is one thing that you may have seen in the news quite a bit, where you can get a little salivary test, and for like 99 bucks, you send it off, and it used to be that you could get your health results from that, and 23andme had a bit of a slap down from the FDA when it comes to releasing specific health information. So now if you were to test for something like 23andme, you would have to export those results to a different service to get fitness nutrition information, etcetera, and that's what we're going to be talking about today. If you get your genetic testing done through something like 23andme or any other service, how can you actually delve in to get personalized health results, personalized fitness and diet prescription based off of what your genes are telling you.
So my guest on today's podcast is named Andrew Steele, and Andrew actually, is a British Olympic athlete. A 400 and the 4 by 400, he actually runs the four hundred in, I believe, just under 45 seconds, and he's represented his country at the European Championships, the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships, the Olympic Games. So he's pretty fast, he's probably faster than me. I'll think I can run a 400 in 44.94 seconds. I could maybe run away from you for like ten miles carrying a sand bag over my shoulder, Andrew?
Andrew: Yeah, you could definitely do that.
Ben: Or climb under barbed wire. But anyways, Andrew kind of knows what it takes to go from good to great and how to tap into the power of genetic research 'cause he's use a lot of these stuff to target his own training and nutrition choices, and he actually works as the Head of Sport for a company called DNAFit, and DNAFit is one of these companies that lets you, well, they'll test your DNA, and we'll talk about that, but you can also, for example if you have 23andme results, you can import that stuff into DNAFit and get personalized fitness and diet results kind of spat back out at you, and I've done that myself, and we'll be going over my results. We'll be going over how this stuff works and it's some real world examples of how this information can be practically applied with pretty significant benefits to your performance and the food choices that you make and some pretty cool and cutting edge stuff. So Andrew, thanks for coming on the call, man.
Andrew: Absolute pleasure.
Ben: Before we delve into DNA and I know you've got my results sitting in front of you that we're going to talk about. Before we really get into any of that stuff, can you tell me a little bit about how you got into all of this? ‘Cause it sounds like you're kind of a jock-slash-scientist. I'm curious what your story is.
Andrew: Well I'm definitely being careful of calling myself a scientist, in all due respect, but being as a professional track and field athlete. As it were, I obviously been exposed to sports science for a great many years in my whole career, my development as well as an athlete is an integral part of what I do, and so you end up with a second-hand knowledge of sports science through a practical aspect, and I guess that's the most important aspect for most of us is the utility and the practical aspect of how we use it in our training and then our performance. Now as you mentioned, I run the work we do at DNAFit across professional sport, and I also deal with basically a lot of other things that we also do as well. It was an interesting story of how I came to be involved, and partly it was down to the sort of questioning, how I could bring my career back to the heights I reached.
About six years ago now, for the Beijing Olympic Games, so when you mentioned my best time before which is just under 45 seconds, it's 44.94 seconds to be exact, and I'd run that in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Yeah, it was a good challenge for me, my first Olympic games. I'd run a personal record there, and we came fourth actually in the 4 by 400 meter relay by an extremely small margin at the time, 0.03 of a second. So it's kind of like a bittersweet experience for me, you know? So what happened is I took very good years of my career then, 2006, 2007, 2008, and I was younger at the time and I was thinking wow, this is great? London Olympics with four years’ time, the Home Olympics, the once in a lifetime opportunity, and I've run this time. Now I'm going to look forward to a few more years of building my profile in the media, building my performance on the track and being in my head, this idea of being super famous and super successful by the time the Home Olympic Games came around.
Ben: Yeah, like the white Usain Bolt of England, right?
Andrew: That's right, yeah. So I just had this wonderful, sort of Hollywood notion of sporting achievement and success over the next four years, culminating in that Home Olympic gold, you know? And that was the plan. Now what happened after Beijing Olympic Games, it didn't really work out that way? There was many reasons, but after the game, my coach and myself and my supports. We kind of made a decision, and we said how do we get better than this? I've shown I'm really world class, how do I make myself worth beating. And we decided we needed to kind of work on some of my weaknesses. So we didn't want to carry on doing the same. We didn't want to stay the same. We wanted to change, and it was a tough decision, but we decided that 4 of 400-meter run of my standard, my 200 speed was not equivalent to those two others running at my 400-meter speed. So effectively my weak part was my short sprint, my ability to accelerate to full speed and how long it took me to reach that speed. So that was the conclusion we made because actually, if anyone ever googles my race from Beijing, you'll see that in the first 30 meters, I just get left behind by these guys before actually coming through and winning at the end. The question was how do we do that? And we changed my training somewhat to work more on our weaknesses, and back then before I changed, I used to train almost more like a middle distance athlete, so we do what was traditionally considered a bit too much endurance for a 400-meter guy 'cause although to the like of yourself, and it probably seems like the difference between 400 and 800 is very little. 400 is still a sprint, it's less than the 800. Of course, it's extremely different energy systems.
Ben: Yeah, we're talking about kind a creatine, phosphogenic energy system being a huge component of the 200 and still a component of a 400, but that's a little more glycolytic right?
Andrew: That's right, yes. So in the 400, there's a few ratios thrown around and people talk about it being maybe 10% aerobic and 90% anaerobic, but of course, for me I used to train almost like half and half. I would train as though half of the race was based on my lungs really, and that seemed to work for me back then. When we made the changes to how are we going to get better, we kind of stopped doing quite so much of that endurance-based stuff, that middle distance kind of training because that was kind of the done thing. That's what everyone else in 400 meters was doing, so we decided to go on that road. Now along those you get the next four years, a few other major things did happen. To me I had quite a difficult injury in 2009, cool bust the pubis and then I had upside bar vice.
Ben: I've had that, man.
Andrew: Oh, you've had? Okay right.
Ben: I had it back when I was a triathlete. Like yearlong when I was a triathlete, I got a bike crash and messed up my pelvis, and that turned into osteitis pubis. Yeah that sucked, it was like no sit-ups for six months.
Andrew: Yeah, you have to watch out on all of your abdominal stuff. You just got to let that gut flow. Another major factor was I had mono, mononucleosis for about 18 months after that as well.
Ben: You mean like an upstand bar?
Andrew: Yeah. Basically, yeah. We call it Jangelaphobia in the UK.
Ben: Tons and tons of athletes get that, by the way. I've been running into more and more people who get so worn down, and it's up seeing bar, and it's a simple blood test to figure it out, but yeah. So you got past that same bar?
Andrew: I did, yeah, and it took me a while. So that got me in 2010. By sort of mid-2011, I was fully healthy again, and in effect that was obviously a large factor. With all these other mitigating factors, by 2012, I just wasn't quite the athlete I was four years prior, and I ended up just missing out on the London Olympic Games, having an Achilles tendon rupture about a year before, and then also I just really wasn't that quick. I was running 45 high or 46 low seconds, but not 44. And so I missed out on this great event, this Home Olympic Games, the once in a lifetime opportunity. Just missed out, but I missed out all the same, and so after the dust had settled, this sort of quite an emotional time of not being part of this big life defining event as an athlete. I was wondering to myself what went wrong there. How do I fix that, and what am I going to do now to make sure that doesn't go wrong for the last four years of my career for example.
So part of that was I said you know actually, what worked for me was doing that stuff which was a little more endurance-based, that stuff which wasn't quite considered a normal 400-meter training program, because over those years, I did improve my acceleration mechanics, my acceleration speed, my short sprint, but I actually lost my individual calling card which was my stupidly good last hundred meters which I've had since I was a child. So I was like no, I need that back. That's what I need to do, and around the same time, I basically got solicited a free DNA test by Avi Lasarow who founded DNAFit just sent out to me while I was in a training camp out in Scottsdale in Arizona, actually. I was like okay, whatever. I'll take this, you know? We do a lot of physiology all our careers, a lot of tests. Sometimes they mean a lot, sometimes they don't. So I got these results out of interest, and when I got the results, I was quite…
Ben: Same thing as 23andme? Salivary, cheek swell?
Andrew: Basically. Essentially not quite exactly the same mechanism as 23andme. It's more of a scrub that you rub on the inside of your cheek rather than a vessel that you spit into. But yeah, essentially the same. Sent it back in the post, just like brushing your teeth, but on the inside of your cheek.
Ben: Yeah, I've done that test actually. I didn't get the results back yet, but I did that brushing the inside of your cheek chest when I did the three-hour treadmill test at Dr. Volak's lab at UConn, and it was the same thing. I didn't get the results from that one yet, but they wanted to look at genetic changes to a high-fat diet. So you did that cheek swab.
Andrew: I did the cheek swab, sent it back, and in the times I was in Arizona, I think about a couple of weeks later, I got a PDF report. Basically on a selection of genome variants which we'll talk about when we go through your report. It's essentially the same report you got here. I was quite impressed then kind of surprised how accurately it betrayed what I've been forced to learn over a painful trial and error over the years. So it showed me that I was power and endurance-based on the genetic side. I was a mix with the biased, not a full majority but a bias towards endurance which is fitted in with my image of myself being a sprinter who could play to the endurance side of things a little bit better than most. I had a raised risk of tendon injury, and that was basically a year prior, I just had my Achilles tendon partial rupture. I also had a slow recovery speed from genetic point of view which fitted in with my upstand bar with my over-training, kind of with my anecdotal experience of why some guys seemed to be ready to go the next day, and I wasn't. So on those factors, I just basically fed back to the company. I said well-done guys. This is kind of fitted in.
Ben: You're like you read me like a book?
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I'm like well done, I think this is the thing. Press on, and we kept in touch and here we are as about a year later now, and I'm essentially a core member of DNAFit. I guess it's a good sales pitch, and I was so impressed with the results I've been working for the company, and it's not quite simple as that but that's kind of how I reached this point. I just sort of saw the utility for me and how I had known that earlier in my career. How that might have been a behavioral influence change around me and my coach to understand what's going on in the genetic level with me, so I got into the whole pot of other parameters that we measure.
Ben: Yeah, I actually got, I think, pretty much the same test that you got except nutrition as well. Did they do nutrition on you?
Andrew: I did do it later on, yeah. So I've done my nutrition test now, but not right at the very start. I just did the physical performance, the fitness side.
Ben: Yeah, and I'm intrigued, and I know we're going to delve into this. At this point, if you're listening in, if you're one of those people that likes to read along and kind of look at this stuff that Andrew and I are going to talk about as we delve into what a genotype report and a DNAFit diet report actually look like, I've got all my reports uploaded. All my data is at bengreenfieldfitness.com/dna. So that's where the show notes are for this podcast. I've got all these PDFs we're going to talk about uploaded there. It's pretty cool stuff, so Andrew, what do you think? Should we just delve in?
Andrew: Let's go, do you want to start on the fitness or the nutrition side?
Ben: Let's look at this report that says your genotype report, and this is the one that's related to fitness. So before we jump into the specific data and how it influences people's fitness and training when they get a test like this done, just like a quick overview here. I mean hit the fast forward button if you know what a gene is, but can you give us the quick overview, Andrew, of genes and gene variations?
Andrew: Okay, so we look at a total of, if you do both full range of test, we look at a total of 45 genetic variants. So a gene, and I would really hope, probably guess the most realistic is we kind of know what a gene is, but essentially, this is what makes us these, the building blocks as life forms as humans. And we look at variants, so that's also known as an allele. Basically you have a variation of polymorphism in certain genes which affect how you are.
Ben: And the polymorphism is like the SNP that you hear a lot of people talking about these days, right?
Andrew: That's right, that's the SNP. Single Nucleotide Polymorphism.
Ben: Yeah, so basically your gene is a segment of your DNA, and each of your genes is made up of these four different letters, right? I took all of this in Biochem, A, T, C and G right?
Andrew: That's right.
Ben: Okay, so basically these letters can be replaced by another to create different variations in genes, and that's where a lot of these SNPs are created, basically?
Andrew: Yeah, so the combination of these letters though, the individual ones you hold and this changes a certain factor or may influence a certain factor. So it could be in the obvious side, we look at someone in what color hair they've got or how they look, but of course, that's a very, very small part of what a gene does, and we're looking at the variations here, these SNPs, these polymorphisms that have been shown to hold associations in multiple studies with various health and fitness markets.
Ben: Yeah, got it. Okay, cool. Alright, we got past the nitty gritty science stuff.
Andrew: I would say that's very light nitty gritty.
Ben: That's pretty light, but I don't know. Go to the Wikipedia page for DNA if you want to delve in more deeply than that. Okay, so let's jump into the fun stuff, the fitness stuff. So on page six of my report is basically a power endurance profile that gives my personal power-slash-endurance response. So what it says is that my DNAFit assessment determined my genetic profile as equally balanced between power and endurance activities based on variations in my genes. And so it just tells me mixed power and endurance to benefit the most from my genetic profile. Can you break this down a little bit more in terms of an example of, I guess you kind of use yourself as a little bit of an example with power versus endurance. Can you explain this a little bit more deeply in terms of the whole power and endurance thing?
Andrew: Yeah, sure. So these particular genes which we look at in this page, this panel, and a panel endurance set. These are those to hold associations with response to power, training or response to endurance training or power performance and endurance performance. So for example in here called the ACTN3 gene. This is quite a kind of A-list gene, it's talked about quite a lot in the media. A lot of hyperbole which perhaps is taken out of context, but it's been shown quite remarkably if you have a version of the gene which has the C-variation. So you have one version or two, so you have CT or CC. This has been shown to have a remarkably strong association with powerful forms. So for example, in every Olympic sprinter ever genotyped, they have held at least one version of the C variation or ACTN3. So statistically speaking when someone has that, you could say, just to put that in context, they've never found an Olympic sprinter who doesn't hold at least one version of this C-version of the ACTN3. So we look at these not as individuals, the genes, but we look at them as a whole, as a panel.
Ben: So let's say somebody gets tested, and for me, it looks like I'm a 50-50 mix of power and endurance which kind of sucks which means I'm never going to be a pro-triathlete. I'm never going to be a pro-footballer. I'll always be average.
Andrew: Let me clarify that actually because what we're very careful to do here is actually we want to make clear that there is no such thing as a good or bad genetic profile for a certain sport or any chosen goal for that matter, so we would never ever use genetics to choose a goal or to modify a goal to change what your chosen sport would be, for example.
Ben: Why not? I mean why wouldn't you like test a kid? And let's say kid has no power and full-on endurance? Why would you not encourage them to take part in cross-country running and cycling and rowing? Like wouldn't that be a smart move if you wanted them to have say success in sport?
Andrew: In the future, they may be research to back-up that kind of mentality. At the moment, there just isn't the way to research, to say that someone with, for example, 90 percent power genetics can't thrive an endurance sport. We don't have the research, and ethically there's a lot of questions there about if you tell someone, especially at a young age. We're very careful if we test anyone under 18, but actually it's such a powerful influencer. We're very, very careful to say no. You won't be good at this, but you will be good at this. There's not really the research to back that up.
Ben: Well since I've already dug myself into a hole with the whole white Usain Bolt comment, I'll toss this in there too. You probably would be saying this if you were Russian or Chinese. I'm joking, man. Sorry, go ahead.
Andrew: Yeah, well you're right there. Perhaps in some other countries and regimes, they perhaps try to use this as a talent identification, but we're very, very careful. Really, there's no research behind that quite yet either way. So it would be a miss for us to try. So the key is he's probably using it to modify and tame that individually, how you reach that goal whatever your children's goal may be. So that's kind of the key, sort of methodology of how we use your power and endurance percentage.
Ben: Let me ask you this. Let's say that somebody tests, and they're really skewed towards power. Would that mean that if they wanted to be, let's say a good triathlete. That maybe since they're naturally high in power, they shouldn't necessarily spend a lot of time in the weight room and might want to get better at what they essentially might suck at by going out and doing more aerobic or endurance training?
Andrew: Well what we're currently doing, that may be a methodology, but what we're currently doing, and we're actually creating our own clinical trial with the University of Manchester here in the UK to sort of prove this is that actually we're saying that you need to improve your aerobic capacity, you need to improve what we call endurance kind of energy systems. You, as a very, very high power percentage individual, it'll probably fly better off using that through high intensity, small [0:23:44] ______ as opposed to your longest.
Ben: So you're basically what you're saying is like train your strength.
Andrew: We're saying train to your genetic advantage, exactly. Not a 100%, but use that to tweak auxiliary training sessions and just change the emphasis of your week perhaps.
Ben: So in my case, being like an equal power and endurance profile, I should be doing things like concurrent training where I'm doing both strength and endurance and high intensity cardio interval, kind of all as part of my training program at a relatively equal volume.
Andrew: Yeah, so you're 59.5% endurance, 41.5% power on our scale. Where that fits in our data set is what I'd call mixed with an endurance bias which is kind of where I was. So between 55% and 65% one way, I'd call you mixed with a bias, whichever side that went. So in your case, I wouldn't say fully mixed, 50-50, and I would say definitely place a priority on endurance.
Ben: You're right, I'm seeing those numbers now. It didn't make sense with numbers before. I was just looking at the chart and the colors. Okay, cool interesting.
Andrew: But I would still keep note of power. So I'd look at the polarized training program, for example, and almost arbitrarily adding a very power-based workout, a very endurance-based workout, I'm filling in the gaps in between. Just almost to a 60-40 ratio as a starting point to see how that responds for you.
Ben: Okay, so on the next page we've got this aerobic potential, and for me it shows my VO2 max potential as high, not very high but high, and it looks like there are certain genes that can help with natural VO2 max. How does that work and how do you apply that?
Andrew: Okay, so basically there are certain genes which hold the kind of genetic resistance to achieve the high in the VO2 max score. So important to understand where you lie from genetic point if your goal is to improve your VO2 max. So if you regularly measure your VO2 max as a marker of how well you do in your training. So in your case, you don't hold every variation that kind of lubricates the way to the highest VO2 max, but you hold mostly a majority of those. Some people find themselves very low or low on this scale, and that means that they might find their platter on their VO2 max scores, and there's a certain amount that their genetics will just not let them go any higher. That doesn't just say they're not as fit, but if VO2 max is a goal and a measure, then they need to understand that to know when they might have reached kind of a platter for them.
Ben: Yeah, okay, got it. And that's one of the things that gets talked about a lot in the news actually, at least in sports science, how high you can genetically increase your VO2 max with guys like Lance Armstrong. Not necessarily being as high as some other cyclists, but still from a skills or a training standpoint or maybe a lactic acid buffering standpoint, still being able to beat some of the guys who might genetically have higher VO2 maxes.
Andrew: That's it, in David Epstein's “The Sports Gene” I remember he referenced the certain small village in Finland, I think? Where they all randomly had the highest VO2 Maxes, even in trained capacity, and that's obviously a genetic pool there which had extremely high VO2 Max.
Ben: Yeah, okay. So that's pretty interesting, but I thought the really interesting part, and you kind of eluded to this when you were talking about how long it took you to recover was the recovery profile 'cause I've never heard of this before with genetic testing. It shows that my post-exercise recovery protocol is very fast. This is interesting because I've noticed this compared to when I was a collegiate tennis player and a lot of my training. It seems like I'll do something like an Ironman triathlon and I can go out and work out the next day, and I've always wondered if maybe I just wasn't pushing myself hard enough in my race or in my workout or if maybe there's something else going on from a recovery standpoint. What does this mean when it shows that my recovery profile is very fast, and I've got the genes that cause fast recovery? Does that mean my muscles repair faster, I shut down inflammation faster? What's happening?
Andrew: Effectively, what you just mentioned there, the inflammation is the key factor here. Certain genetic variants are associated with a pro-inflammatory aspect, so they are responsible for causing more inflammation post-hard exercise, and you possess the opposite versions of those overall. So you're effectively causing less inflammation when you exercise hard, and you're getting better free radical clearance after exertion, whereas some people have the opposite. In my case, that's where I was, which meant that it's going to take me a bit longer to clear that inflammations if you're ready.
Ben: That's come back to bite me before too though because I can finish up a workout, heal up pretty quickly, but I can dig myself into a hormonal and adrenal fatigue hold because I'm able to come back day after day and beat myself up. I don't think I would suspect. Maybe you know more than I do, but even if these genes are responsible for allowing you to shut down inflammation more quickly. I don't think that means your adrenals are healing as quickly, does it?
Andrew: No for sure. This is one factor to take into account, and of course, if someone's very fast on this genetic inflammatory process, they do hold the risk of slipping into over-training without realizing it. For sure in if an ideal world you can take this, you can take your hormonal results post-hard exercise every time and understand exactly when you're ready, your heart rate variability, etcetera as well.
Ben: Yeah, I was going to say heart rate variability would be super important. Like if you have that genetic variation that allows you to just bam, bam, bam day after day, you shouldn't necessarily expect that your hormones are playing ketchup.
Andrew: No, only at the fact it's not necessarily the same. What we do with our professional sports team, we actually cross reference this with the heart rate variability. Their Omega wave, for example, any of their recovery markers that they look at. To them make the correct decisions based on all the whole picture, as well as just genetics.
Ben: It's a good idea, smart man. Okay, so the last part of the fitness part of things, I know we want to talk about the nutrition too, but you've got injury risk on here which I guess, that's somehow different than recovery?
Andrew: Yeah, so there are a panel of genes here. Seven in total in this one which are associated mostly with kind of tendon and ligament ACL-looking type injuries. So there are genetic variants which are associated with a higher risk of injuries in this respect.
Ben: What do you mean? Is it like how flexible your fascia are or your connective tissue integrity? What are the genes affecting?
Andrew: Specifically the COL1A1 and COL5A1 as the name suggest. So it's to do with your collagen. So we look at that, and this is particularly of interest to for the sports and fitness people because certain people just don't get Achilles problems. They don't get patellar tendonitis, they just don't seem to get those. There's many factors, your biomechanics and obviously your overall strength and conditioning, of course. But from a genetic point of view, certain people just get placed at a start point which is a slightly higher predispositions to these things, and if you know that from the start, it's not a bad thing if you're a higher than average injury risk. It's just by knowing it, you can then make the right steps to be preventative.
Ben: My personal injury risk, yeah mine, it's almost high basically, and this kind of raised my eyebrow 'cause I honestly don't get injured that much, man.
Andrew: That's great, well good work.
Ben: But I also weightlift and foam roll, and I use a lot of stuff like fish oil and collagen hydrolysate and a lot of stuff to support my connective tissue health and keep any facial adhesions from forming, but it kind of made me raise my eyebrow. I'm curious, how much of this do you see fleshed out in the real world? Like how blue sky are we talking here as far as this stuff goes right now?
Andrew: So for example, what we do if we were working with a sports team. I always bring it back to that because this is kind of it in general health and fitness, things filtered down from professional sports.
Ben: Yeah, it's like show me the World Championship rings, right?
Andrew: Exactly, yeah. So the utility gets proven there, and then we can say how do we extrapolate that to the everyday person? So what we do with the guys that are kind of high or very high on this scale, from their strength and conditioning point of view, we all say we're going to put in pre-habilitative, preventative exercises such as isometric loading for their Achilles tendons or for their Patella tendons as a default, regardless if they have symptoms. So (a) symptomatic, they're in the gym. First exercise is eccentrics on their calves or isometrics on their hamstring tendons. Just to keep the tendon growth and the stimulation around their collagen, there active and not sticky as it were in the Achilles sense. So this is kind of extremely important in some of the sports clients reviews because the medical staff are able to say to the managerial staff, those who choose who plays as well. Like okay, watch out. This guy has a higher than normal, genetic injury risk, and he's complaining of some soreness here. We really can't play him this weekend. We really can't use him. We've got to be super careful, whereas with the guys down the lower end, we can say okay, we're going to put these exercises in once or twice a week in their gym program, but we can use the other time in the other sessions to do something else which we need to improve performance, for example.
Ben: Yeah, that makes sense. This might be, this question about my fitness results might be a good segue onto talking about the nutrient part of things, but I noticed that on my recovery protocol, it says that I have a variation in a gene that's important in free radical removal, specifically superoxide dismutase, and I know there are nutrients like glutathione that support that pathway, but does this mean that I'm good and I don't necessarily need to take those kind of antioxidants or that, for example, like a superoxide dismutase support would be one of the antioxidants I should go out of to include if I were going to take an antioxidant?
Andrew: Okay, so yeah. Essentially this says that in the SOD2 variation that you hold. That's been associated in the studies to have a better free radical removal. So it's essentially saying that perhaps that's one of the genes that we look at with free radical clearance, that you've got a slightly better than average ability to clear those naturally. You know, they were talking very mild of variation of one gene here, but the overall picture is where the power comes, but essentially you hold back varying images, good for free radical blimps.
Ben: Good 'cause that liquid glutathione stuff tastes like liquid dog farts.
Andrew: That's what we're all looking forward to, isn't it. Way to avoid these things.
Ben: Alright, let's talk nutrition, man. And again, if you're listening in and you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/dna, you can download either of these reports that Andrew and I are going through, so you can see if what this actually looks like on paper, but on the nutrition reports, it kind of gives the optimal diet and the recommended overview and what is the best diet for me. So I'm curious before I actually reveal what it says the best diet for me is, how in the heck is that figured out? The best diet for somebody?
Andrew: Okay, so this is the best diet from a weight management point of view to start with, so we don't know someone's goal from genetics, we don't know what they're general activity levels are, so at the moment we're just telling people if they're looking at a fat loss program and we're trying to guide them just to the best path for them and the diet types, because as you know, it's a confusing world out there if you're just starting on this journey. Every week in the fitness magazines, there's a new super diet, there's a new super way of eating, and then we just try to help people navigate all the option here. So what we look at is the world with neutri-genetics. So individual responses based on our genetics to nutrition.
Ben: Okay, got it. So I noticed that in my 23andme result, when I looked at those 'cause I got them done when they were actually able to reveal health information, and it indicated that I for example have a higher than normal risk of Type-2 Diabetes, and I've noticed that I tend to have a little bit high fasting blood sugar for an athlete. It's like around 90, and sometimes my postprandial blood glucose when I tested kind of stays elevated a little bit, so you know. I use things like cinnamon and apple cider vinegar and some insulin sensitizers and things that help my body in terms of carbohydrate sensitivity, but I notice that there's actual gene results here on page seven that says I have high sensitivity to carbohydrates. Does that back this up, is high sensitivity carbohydrates, does that mean that I have a pronounced blood glucose response when I eat a carbohydrate?
Andrew: Effectively yes, and those for some reason, the arrow on your graph is not accurately responding to that, this from your gene results there, but effectively yeah.
Ben: Yeah, I noticed that to on the graph. It says low, but it looks like all the alleles say high.
Andrew: There must be a glitch there. So high is what you are, so effectively what sensitivity means in this respect is from one calorie of carbohydrate, you actually receive more energy per calorie than the average. Based on your alleles, so that essentially means a larger disruption from glucose fluctuations and longer to insulin sensitivity.
Ben: It says I should consume a maximum of eight percent of my daily calories to refine carbohydrates. So it's pretty much telling me that starch and sugar's going to, in my case for my particular genetic profile, do some pretty good damage to me.
Andrew: Yeah, basically yeah. You have a larger problem with insulin-glucose balance based on the single calorie of carbohydrate than the average. So the phrase as we all know, calories are starting to become more and more of an old fashioned way of looking at our nutrition, but effectively they're not a static thing. The notion of one calorie equals one calorie is not the same for all of us. We're all different and our genetic variants play role there, especially when it comes to carbohydrate here. Backs up what you found from your 23andme, and you do have a raised risk of Type-2 Diabetes from a genetic point of view, but interestingly from the research, that can be, of course as we know, completely cancelled out through the correct nutrition and diet.
Ben: Yeah, and you also have a fat sensitivity. Fat sensitivity isn't something your people talk about much. It's just saturated fat sensitivity. So there are genes that affect your sensitivity to saturated fats?
Andrew: Yeah, so there's kind of like two strands within it. There's lipid metabolism. So what that means for our fat loss goals, if that's the case, and then there's also general health. We talk about saturated fat and the impact it has on our cholesterol and whether that's healthy or non-healthy cholesterol. So there's sort of two strands within there, and the sensitivity effectively means the same from how well you metabolize lipids and how much of an effect they have on your cholesterol.
Ben: So I'm curious as far as saturated fats go, if I have, it looks like I've got medium sensitivity to saturated fats. Let's say somebody has high sensitivity to saturated fats, does that mean that when they consume saturated fats compared to the rest of the population, they're probably going to have a higher increase in cholesterol?
Andrew: Yes, exactly. So they would be more dangerous to their cholesterol levels than the average.
Ben: Oh, okay. But you're not; well I would actually beg to differ with what's written at the bottom of page 10 here that high LDL cholesterol can cause cardiovascular disease. You need it to present with inflammation and oxidation though, right?
Andrew: Yeah. I guess the whole nutrition science is starting to move towards a new understanding of what ADL, LDL and HDL mean as well. We're currently working of what is said as the centralized guidelines from the EU here in Europe and making recommendations based on that. And as things get way behind them, then we can start to move our guidance towards that, but at the moment, this is where we aim our guidance to wraps.
Ben: Yeah, centralized guidelines here in the US are no good, 'cause they're all influenced by corn and grain subsidies and farm lobbies, so.
Andrew: That's it, and as is the nature of centralized policy, it's often many years behind the curtain. If you know so, good to take away your market here, combine it with your personal knowledge and where your current actual standpoint lies on facts in the latest research, and then make your own decisions based on that, I guess.
Ben: Yeah, basically what I took away from this is that while I can continue to eat a high level of healthy fats that I should make sure that I'm still moderating my total saturated fat intake. So what I shoot for honestly is I try and get about 20% of my total amount of fat calories from saturated fats, like from a little bit of butter and a little bit of the marbliness of the steak and stuff like that, but most of what I get is olive oil and raw seeds, nuts and things of that nature.
Andrew: Of course. And you're not going to go wrong with that as a [0:42:09] ______. You were saying don't be too scared of them, but equally don't be so free with you just letting your full saturated fat intake go unchecked basically.
Ben: Yeah, okay. And then also you've got nutrient on here, and this shows… It says I'm lactose intolerant, right? Just looking at this again.
Andrew: Lactose intolerant.
Ben: My lactose intolerance risk, no, it says my lactose intolerance risk is low, like I wouldn't have lactose intolerance.
Andrew: You're low risk of lactose intolerance.
Ben: Okay, I'll tell you right now. Dairy freaking destroys me. If I eat commercial dairy and I don't take enzymes with it, it destroys me. I mean like there's definitely something going on. Well I have sown lower than normal levels of lactase production, so I'm curious about this whole lactose tolerance thing. What's this allele that's responsible for lactose tolerance, and I suppose are there other things that will cause dairy intolerance in addition to lactose in a situation like this?
Andrew: Okay, so this is the LCT gene, and the effect of it is we're looking for the presence of the lactose persistence gene to put it sort of simply. So as people know as mammals, you have the ability to process lactose naturally in early life, and then most of us. Most of the human population looped this gene, sort of deactivates after a certain point, but in ancestral terms in the certain time in history, a group of humans developed the ability to continue to produce lactase, to continue to be able to digest lactose effectively or through life. You've got one version of the allele which is responsible for lactose persistence, so you produce the enzyme but you haven't got the full allele which means you produce the whole 100% of the enzyme. However you do produce some from a genetic point of view to process lactose.
Ben: Interesting, 'cause I do okay. Like if I go to the local farm and I get like raw milk or like organic raw yogurt, fermented dairy stuff like that, I'm fine, but if I touch a two percent milk from the grocery store, I'm destroyed.
Andrew: Okay, yeah. The fact is they're a plague which perhaps we don't quite understand, but from a genetic point of view, you've kind of got the half lactose persistence gene. So you are producing the enzyme, lactase, but the other factors, perhaps something away from genetic which causes you discomfort.
Ben: Got it, and then you've also got celiac predisposition. So celiac being that digestive condition where you have the adverse reaction to glucose. For my celiac predisposition, or gluten rather, I've got possible predisposition for celiac disease. That seems kind of merky, what does that mean?
Andrew: Yeah, so effectively with celiac, it's not as simple as gluten intolerance, as people like to put it, but there's generally a kind of one in 100 risk of being celiac as an average, but certain variants kind of change that risk. So certain with some variants, we can almost eliminate the risk of becoming celiac or having celiac condition. They sort of raised the risk to 135,000, lower the risk to 135,000. With some variants, we'd say there be a higher predisposition 'cause that changes the risk to one in 20, or one in 10 even. So in your case, you have the result which means you're kind of around the average they predispositioned you for it. That one in 100.
Ben: So let's say somebody gets their genetics tested, like they go to DNAFit or they go to 23andme.com, they get a test and they export their results to DNAFit, and they show that they definitely have the predisposition for celiac disease. They have the gene for celiac disease, is that just like thumbs up, no doubt? You don't even need to go get a Cyrex lab test or a food imbalance test? Is this pretty much a total correlation that has been observed in science?
Andrew: No, it's more that we say you've got raised risk. So if you have certain symptoms, you must go and get checked. Symptoms is a consideration whether you go and get checked out, but to be able to understand that you're in the gene pool here, which is around one and 35 risk of celiac for example instead of one and 100.
Ben: Okay, gotcha. Interesting. Okay, so actually I'm on the DNAFit store here, and it looks like. So everything that we just talked about, it's like 249 pounds to get the combination of the DNAFit and the DNADiet combined, but if someone's already gotten their 23andme test results, they'd be less than that, right Andrew?
Andrew: Yeah, much less. So we got from 49 pounds to a maximum of 99 pounds if you already got your 23andme results. So much, much cheaper that way.
Ben: Okay, got it. So I guess just go, go talk to your friends in the U.K. if you're American or Canadian and you need the conversion there, or go to, I think Google should be able to do that conversion for you.
Andrew: Yeah, they might just be able to help on that one.
Ben: Cool, cool. So this is really neat stuff, and again, I'll put links to the reports that Andrew and I talked about over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/dna along with a link to 23andme and DNAFit and even the previous podcast that we did where we talked about ancestry and DNA and some of that cool stuff. So Andrew, thank you so much for coming on the call, man, and sharing this stuff with us?
Andrew: Absolute pleasure, Ben. Thanks for having me, and I hope that everybody found that quite interesting.
Ben: Yeah, it was interesting. Some point we'll have to meet up and we'll race the 400, and we'll see if I could beat you after I incorporate all of these power and endurance training recommendations and stay away from sugar, right?
Andrew: I'll be kicking myself that I gave you all that advice in that case.
Ben: I love it. Alright, well cool. So folks this is Andrew Steele from DNAFit and me,Ben Greenfield, signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/dna to check all this stuff out, and thanks for listening.
Last year, in the podcast episode “The Unforeseen Costs of Civilization And What You Can Do About It.“, I spoke to author Spencer Wells about the world of genetic testing and gene research.
In just one year since that episode, we've come a long way, baby. Even though the popular genetic testing service “23andme” seems to have had a bit of a slapdown from the FDA when it comes to releasing specific health information, that doesn't mean you can't still go get tested by 23andme (a simple salivary test that costs $99) and then export that data to another service that will give you targeted health, fitness and nutrition information.
My guest on today's podcast, Andrew Steele, is British Olympic athlete in the 400m and the 4x400m relay (runs the 400 in 44.94 seconds) and has represented his country at European Championships, Commonwealth games, World Championships and Olympic games. The guy knows what it takes to go from good to great, how to tap into the power of genetic research to make targeted training and nutrition choices, and now works as head of sport for a company called “DNAFit“, which allows you to import your 23andme test results to get personalized fitness and diet results.
During our discussion, Andrew and I go over my:
You're going to learn the background and science of how the process works, real world examples of how this information can be applied with significant benefits to health, performance and biomarkers, and how accurate the results are.
Do you have questions or feedback about how to use genetic testing to get personalized diet and fitness recommendations? Leave your comments below!