Venessa Schoeman, editor of Finesse Voelgoed magazine and qualified dietician, recently did our Gene-Immune test. The Gene-Immune test is designed to empower you to support your immune system, by understanding your genetic make-up that relates to this essential aspect of your body. A healthy immune system leads to a healthy life.
Following a buccal swab which is analyzed at the Geneway laboratory, a report is generated that details which genes work well and which need support. Using this information, one is able to make changes in eating, supplementation and lifestyle in order to strengthen the immune system.
A few key genes that stood out in Venessa’s results:
ACE gene – Venessa has a slow initial response in her immune system. Her blood vessels don’t widen well. Therefore, with the risk of poor blood flow to her organs, she may get sick easily. A dietary recommendation was provided to overcome this.
Iron overload gene – She naturally has a high iron level and increased ferritin which can cause inflammation and oxidative stress. This can potentially lead her body to attack good cells. Donating blood is one solution to lowering iron in the blood.
CRP4 gene – Her body is less likely to flag viruses for removal. The CRP gene alerts the immune system to destroy damaged cells but Venessa’s results show a high risk that this gene may not function optimally, meaning that so she may stay sick for longer. Nutrients that help improve this CRP4 gene are: Vitamin D, magnesium, and folate.
VDR – Vitamin D gene – Venessa runs the risk of becoming vitamin D deficient. This nutrient helps the body prevent bone loss, hair loss, muscle pain and depression. It also helps maintain normal blood pressure and a healthy heart. Additionally, it plays a major role in the immune system by modulating the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin D is supplemented according to your blood levels.
Collagen degradation – Her body breaks collagen down too quickly, instead of metabolizing it over long periods of time. This nutrient is needed to repair lung tissue and ensure healthy bones, hair and skin. It also plays a role in gut health.
Given that the purpose of a DNA test is to use the information to manage one’s health proactively to counteract the suppressed genes, the following recommendations were made to Venessa, based on her results.
- Overall, Venessa is best suited to a Mediterranean diet. This approach with plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, cooked frequently with garlic and olive oil will best empower her to eat according to her genetic requirements. This type of diet is also loaded with antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory.
- Ensure a high dietary fiber intake (>25gper day) as 70% of your immunity lies in your gut and so we need to feed and protect our gut.
- Eat sufficient probiotic rich foods, such as yoghurt, kombucha, miso, kefir and sauerkraut.
- Increase intake of antioxidant-rich foods such as garlic, broccoli, turmeric, walnuts and blueberries and those containing Vitamin A (oranges, vegetables) Vitamin C (peppers, citrus, strawberries), Vit E (nuts and seeds) and selenium (Brazil nuts). These foods will help to neutralise the free radicals that cause oxidative stress in her lungs.
- It was also recommended that she avoid iron-rich foods such as liver, kidney, duck and red meat.
- Limit intake of grilled (‘braai’) or charred foods or smoked meats to one serving per week (or less) as this may cause more oxidative stress risks.
- Include more beetroot in the diet. Beetroot helps to widen blood vessels and lowers the risk of high blood pressure when ill.
- Include more plant fats and Omega-3 as well as more garlic, ginger and turmeric to reduce the risks of inflammation.
- Test vitamin D levels once a year via a blood test and take a supplement if blood levels are low as this helps to regulate the immune system.
- Take a collagen supplement or eat bone broth to assist with keeping collagen levels high. Vitamin E and C, and seeds such as chia, sesame or poppy, also reduce collagen deficiency.
- Include 1000mg of Vitamin C every day.
- Manage stress. Holistic ways to manage stress such as rest, exercise, sunshine and self-care will help reduce pressure on her immune system.
- Avoid intense exercising. While moderate exercise is always beneficial, Venessa must not over-do it as this may increase her inflammatory risks. Therefore, focusing on a variety of cardio, strength, stretching and mobility exercises will complete her weekly routine.