DNA Testing: A Fantastic Healthy Christmas Present

This podcast is a long one but you’ll soon hear why and it’s interesting enough to keep you focused for its duration. If you listened to my podcasts with Swiss researcher Dr Peter Koeppel about supplementing with nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA, you will have a basic understanding of why and how our lifestyle affects our DNA. In this week’s episode we find out why we should then test our own DNA.

I had first heard about DNA testing around four to five years ago and thought it fascinating, the Human Genome Project was completed and published in April 2003, meaning that we finally had a complete mapping and understanding of all the genes of human beings was. All our genes together are known as our "genome." I initially wanted to go for the test but thought that because the science was so new in SA, perhaps it was better to wait a bit. That way practitioners locally would be better trained and equipped to conduct the tests and interpret the results. I’ve subsequently learned that South Africa has some of the best labs globally for DNA testing!

“The hereditary material of all multi-cellular organisms is the famous double helix of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which contains all of our genes. DNA, in turn, is made up of four chemical bases, pairs of which form the "rungs" of the twisted, ladder-shaped DNA molecules. All genes are made up of stretches of these four bases, arranged in different ways and in different lengths. HGP researchers have deciphered the human genome in three major ways: determining the order, or "sequence," of all the bases in our genome's DNA; making maps that show the locations of genes for major sections of all our chromosomes; and producing what are called linkage maps, complex versions of the type originated in early Drosophila research, through which inherited traits (such as those for genetic disease) can be tracked over generations.

The HGP has revealed that there are probably about 20,500 human genes. The completed human