Genetic Testing Lifestyle Adjustment

A genetic test has a variety of uses. You can learn which of your personal traits have been inherited, test an unborn child for disease or discover whether you are a carrier for a particular heritable condition.

Another use for a genetic test is to learn more about your predisposition for genetic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension or obesity. The advantage to discovering this information is that by following a healthy lifestyle, you may be able to prevent the condition or decrease its intensity.

For example, a physician-approved exercise and fitness program can help with heart health; a low-sodium diet can keep your blood pressure at a healthy level; and a high fiber diet can be beneficial for a variety of different conditions, as well as overall health.

Interpreting Genetic Test Results

Suppose, as a result of a genetic test, you’ve learned that you or a family member is prone to hypertension, diabetes, or obesity. Does that mean that, no matter what you do, that condition is inevitable?

The answer is no. A genetic marker often simply means that you have a predisposition to a certain condition. Fortunately, taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle can often delay or prevent the onset of that genetic condition.

If you’ve learned that you are predisposed to a genetic disease, talk with your health care provider. In fact, by taking certain precautions, you can actually benefit from the results of a genetic test. Why? By becoming aware, you can start early in being proactive about preventing the development of that condition.

Leading a Healthy Lifestyle

Once you’ve learned about the results of a genetic test, you should consider the benefits of lifestyle modifications. Consult with your health care provider or your child’s pediatrician first to get an experts input on starting or changing an exercise and fitness program or a new, healthier diet.

Recommendations vary depending on your current health regimen, your genetic test results and your medical history.

Diet, Exercise and Fitness

Suppose you learn that you have inherited a tendency toward hypertension. Research has shown that following a low sodium diet, limiting alcohol intake, exercising regularly and quitting smoking are all excellent preventive measures.

These types of simple lifestyle changes also apply to other genetic conditions. If you learn that your child is likely to develop diabetes, for example, you can immediately start learning about the dietary changes necessary for the balance of blood sugar levels. Research has demonstrated the importance of preventing childhood obesity with a balance of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Too often, childhood obesity is a precursor to juvenile diabetes, a condition that is on the rise in America.

Heart health can also be greatly improved by lifestyle changes. If you find that you are predisposed to heart attacks or heart disease, a healthy lifestyle is your first line of defense. Doctors recommend that people prone to heart disease be particularly vigilant in maintaining a low sodium, low fat diet, while keeping up on an exercise and fitness routine.

Genetic Testing for a Healthy Lifestyle

As with the above examples, a number of genetic conditions can be prevented with regular exercise and fitness and a balanced diet. In fact, a nutritious food plan and regular exercise program can benefit your entire family. Taking a genetic test, and adjusting your lifestyle accordingly, can empower you to take control of your health.

Resources

American Diabetes Association (2008). Age-related issues. Retrieved November 20, 2008, from the American Diabetes Association Web site: http://www.diabetes.org/for-parents-and-kids/living-with-diabetes/age-related-issues.jsp.

American Diabetes Association (2008). How to prevent pre-diabetes. Retrieved November 20, 2008, from the American Diabetes Association Web site: http://www.diabetes.org/pre-diabetes/what-you-can-do.jsp.

American Diabetes Association (2008). Making healthy food choices. Retrieved November 20, 2008, from the American Diabetes Association Web site: http://www.diabetes.org/nutrition-and-recipes/nutrition/healthyfoodchoices.jsp.

CBS News (2008). Change lifestyle, change genes.Retrieved November 19, 2008, from the CBS News Web site: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/06/17/health/webmd/main4186003.shtml.

Mayo Clinic (2008). Genetic testing: Insight from Mayo Clinic specialists.Retrieved November 20, 2008, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/genetic-testing/CA00088.

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (2008). Prevention: Your guide to lowering high blood pressure. Retrieved November 20, 2008, from the NHLBI Web site: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/prevent/prevent.htm.