The information we gain from laboratory testing is invaluable and enables us to provide more effective health plans. Our expertise in this complex area enables us to choose the most appropriate options from an extensive range of molecular genetic, biochemical and microbiome tests to understand each person's bio-individuality.
When a client comes to us with a health challenge, we gather information to help us find appropriate solutions by asking about signs and symptoms, diagnoses, medical and family history and other factors. Our questionnaire pack and New Client Consultation are designed to do just that. For minor or short term problems this information may be all we need to let us guide you to better health. However, the health challenges we encounter usually require more advanced solutions.
We use genetic tests to identify abnormalities or differences in DNA sequences, protein functions or chromosome structure. These range from single variant assays to whole exome and whole genome sequencing.
Gene tests reveal the DNA sequences that were passed on from parents at conception – they give us a 'snapshot' of genetic inheritance. Our gene sequences remain largely unchanged over a lifetime and play a central role in our health across the lifespan. There are literally millions of possible gene variations, and the combinations and permutations are unique for each individual.
Research indicates a foundational link between genes and health outcomes. Individuals with certain gene variants are more likely to have impaired health, to have differing nutrient requirements, or to respond differently to environmental toxins.
We frequently find important pieces of evidence when reviewing genetic data. These might involve variations in key enzyme pathways, unusual (even extreme) nutrient requirements or vulnerabilities in detoxification capacity caused by gene deletions. More significant findings include rare diseases or single gene variants that play a key role in developmental disorders.
Gene sequences, however, are only part of the story. While gene sequences remain fixed, our biochemistry changes over time in response to the things we eat, do and encounter. This process is known as 'epigenetics' - literally 'on top of' genetics. Epigenetic processes modulate gene expression and influence gene activity throughout our lives. A simplified explanation would be that epigenetic processes 'switch' genes ‘on’ or ‘off’.
In practice, gene activity, enzyme production and gene regulation are in a constant change as a result of epigenetics. We can't observe gene activity directly, but by measuring levels of key proteins, metabolites, minerals and compounds we have an indirect way to help assess gene expression at a given point in time.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to the biochemical tests we use – our choices depend on the health challenges faced by the particular individual.
Overall function of the human body is heavily influenced by the genes of the trillions of microorganisms that live in, and on, our bodies. Bacteria, yeasts, archae, viruses, phages and parasitic organisms occupy surfaces and hollow spaces, living in constant flux as interdependent and competing communities. This is a fascinating and rapidly developing area of health science.
Countless research programmes have focused on finding an 'ideal' gut flora in the hope that this could provide a template for restoring health and mitigating the epidemic of modern diseases. Emphasis is also placed on 'getting rid of the bad organisms'. However, more recent evidence suggests that the reality is far more complex and that overall balance between species is key to building better health, immunity and well-being.
The fact that gut bacteria influence digestive and physical health is well known. But restoring gut balance is also a critical step in promoting excellent mental health, since our resident organisms produce chemicals that communicate directly with nerve cells and influence brain function.
At Nutrigenomic Medicine we make use of a wide range of microbiological tests as well as DNA tests to detect and assess microbial imbalances. As with gene and biochemical tests, we make recommendations based on individual history, symptoms and circumstances.
WHAT TO EXPECT
There may be some preparation needed before completing tests, such as avoiding certain foods or fasting. There are also various requirements for different test samples. Some can be completed from home and others need to be done in the clinic as they involve complex processing and transport procedures.
It typically takes between two and eight weeks for results to be returned.
All tests used at Nutrigenomic Medicine are developed by licensed and accredited laboratories in the UK, USA or Europe.