I did a gene nutrition test and it helped me become acidity-free
Maybe she’s born with it, or maybe it’s too much gluten
When I think about genetic mutation, the superbug that comes to my mind has nothing to do with the overuse of antibiotics. It’s Spiderman, everyone’s favourite swinging superhero. Except in reality, a spider’s bite might leave you with a rash, not super speed. There is another fascinating genetic mutation that humans have experienced, though, and it’s not the superpower to dissociate in the middle of a meeting without your eyes glazing over. “People think lactose intolerance is the anomaly. But, in fact, it’s lactose tolerance that is the mutation,” said Deepika Suresh, genomics specialist and chief of staff at Xcode Life.
I had just completed their gene nutrition test, and Suresh was explaining the concept of nutrigenomics — the study of how food interacts with your genes and how our genes impact nutritional needs. My part in the gene nutrition test sounded simple. Spit, swab and send it back to the Xcode Life team. A month later, I received a comprehensive and personalised analysis based on my genetics which indicated my nutritional needs.
Suresh took me through the entire document, stressing that the gene nutrition test is like the first draft of a book; it doesn’t take into account all the changes and bodily evolution you go through as you grow older. “Environmental stressors and the lifestyle you have had so far aren’t reflected in the test. This is just your DNA information. Take the results with a pinch of salt.”
She used my result of ‘likely to be’ lactose intolerant as an example. After asking detailed questions about my reaction to different meals, ingredients, and dairy products, she gave me my fun fact of the day. My body has adapted and evolved to digest lactose well and, well… love it, too.
Suresh said that a gene nutrition test is ideal for someone who has hit a plateau – this could be related to weight loss, management of a health condition, someone who’s embarked on a health journey but can’t figure out why a new ‘clean’ diet is making them feel worse, even for those simply curious, like me.
I wouldn’t say I had any goal in mind going into this trial. Still, when Suresh sent the easy-to-do dietary recommendations based on my gene nutrition test, I incorporated them into my daily life, and a little over three weeks later, I felt better than I thought I would.
Some people have dogs, others have safety blankets. My family doesn’t leave the house without our emotional support Digene strip. We joke that acidity runs through our genes.
Along with lactose intolerance, my gene nutrition test results also showed a likelihood of gluten intolerance. Though I’m not a garam butter-toast person, my weakness is biscuits. I always have a box of Marie or digestive biscuits on my bedside table, and ensure that my daily cups of coffee have biscuits for company.
After cutting down on the biscuits, I reached out less and less for the Digene. The acidity that had troubled me this entire time went from having a recurrent appearance in my day to being a surprise guest every now and then.
A bowl of oats a day keeps munchies at bay
The only time I sit down properly to eat breakfast is when I’m back home in New Delhi, or on vacation and the hotel is preparing it for me. Forget being a breakfast person, I’m a barely functioning human in the morning.
“Your eating pattern is inclined towards overeating and snacking,” said Suresh. I felt seen but also called out.
Unless I’m distracted by something, such as being at the office, I can snack all day on whatever is around me. Rarely is it something healthy. I go into autopilot mode while eating, taking that time to empty my brain, not realising that it also means not paying attention to how much I’m eating until I feel so full, I need to be still for the next 10 minutes. That’s not a good thing.
“Fill your plate with high-satiety foods and practice mindful eating,” suggested Suresh. Her first recommendation was to start the day with a proper breakfast, and the easiest option, which would also give me energy and keep me full longer, was oats, high in soluble fibre, complex carbohydrates and antioxidants.
Though my childhood memories of oats equated it to sick people’s food, a quick internet search later and I had some fun, low-effort recipes to try.
Starting my day with oats rather than coffee or random snacks also helped keep my acidity at bay.
Bird food for the win
Before this, the only time I’d ever owned a packet of mixed seeds was the brief period when my family had a pair of lovebirds.
But my body needed more omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients, and Suresh suggested that adding a seed mix to my snacks would bring these levels up and replace my unhealthy snacking habit.
I bought the first nut and seed mix I could find at the store, making sure it was a good mix, as Suresh had suggested, and luckily, I caught a B1G1 deal. I left one packet at my office desk and one on my bedside table to replace my beloved biscuit box.
At first, I went for the mix with the same gusto as I do biscuits, eating way more than nutritionally required or physically needed – damn you, genetics – which left me with a slightly nauseous feeling for which I only had myself to blame.
Pulling myself into a more mindful state of mind while eating, I started to pay attention to proportions. What I jokingly referred to as ‘bird food’ became my evening snack, sometimes a mid-morning munch, too, if I didn’t have any fruit on hand.
No more sniffles
Ask me at any point of the day, week or month, and I’ll have some health complaint. This flu season though, I’ve successfully dodged coughs and colds, and it’s probably due to the increased vitamin C intake through fruits.
It might have crossed your mind by now, but I’m a very picky eater, and fruits have never really drawn me in. I’m not someone who enjoys trying new, fresh or exotic-looking fruits because I’ve often found that they look better than they taste. By force of habit instilled in me by my mother, I have a few pieces of fruit every now and then.
But having thrown myself into this experience, I kept an open mind and bought one new fruit every day – namely fruits rich in vitamin C like oranges, pineapple, kiwi and amla as I eye pomelo season on the horizon.
I’m trying to give my immune system a boost, undo some oxidative damage to my body and hopefully, get glowing skin out of this deal, too.
‘Cause nothing compares, nothing compares to
My initial report featured the recommendation of broccoli, and it’s one of the few vegetables that I love. Broccoli might not be everyone’s first choice on the dinner plate, but it’s like that one unassuming friend in your group who is a secret chess superstar who can also beat most people at a plank challenge while thinking up poignant poetry.
Packed with vitamin K, vitamin C, fibre, minerals, antioxidants and a number of micronutrients, this cruciferous health crusader, my friends, is the versatile MVP I’m proud to have been a diehard supporter of all this time. I didn’t need much of a reason to add more of it to my weekly menu.
Some might say three weeks is too soon to see any major bodily changes regarding a new diet, but for me, some things are apparent. I’ve never had a strip of Digene last me this long. I’m not completely gluten-free, but without this gene nutrition test, I would never have made this seemingly obvious connection to acid reflux.
It could be psychosomatic or a delayed reaction to working out and new skincare, but my sister did comment that my skin is glowing and my body looks more toned lately.
On Suresh’s recommendation, I didn’t make any drastic changes, so I do plan on staying on this path.
Instead of grabbing packets of Dark Fantasy biscuits from the office kitchen cabinet, I reach for my nut and seed mix every evening, even if a little begrudgingly. But I tell myself, it’s medicine. It’s good for your hair and skin. If nothing else, do it for vanity.