Advances in technology have allowed us to better explore who we are and where we come from. Whether you invested in AncestryDNA to better understand your true ethnicity or reconnect with your past, your DNA results provide you with genealogy data to support your “family matching” journey. As you begin to connect with your true identity, this can lead you on a journey — one that you may have never anticipated. Discovering your ancestral background is an exciting experience. However, this process is only the beginning. If you have login to Ancestry DNA, here’s what you should consider next.
“Knowing where you have come from is important in forming an idea of where you want to go.” — Alexander Stille
What Does AncestryDNA Offer?
Offering you an opportunity to better understand your ancestral history, AncestryDNA is an exciting way to better understand your family tree.
As stated on their website, you will “discover the family story your DNA can tell.” This means that by collecting and submitting your unique DNA sample, you will gain access to your ethnic mix, all while discovering distant relatives. For many, this results in a truly “feel good” moment, as they unravel the mystery of who they are and how they came to be.
Offering twice as much geographic detail than any other DNA test, that is something to consider if you are interested in regional data. What’s even more interesting is that you can trace the migration of your ancestors across time. This can be an incredibly enlightening experience, as you begin to piece together your family puzzle.
In comparison to say 23andMe or Family Tree DNA, AncestryDNA is ideal when you want to find as many family members as possible so that you can build a comprehensive family tree. With access to over 100 million family trees and 20 billion records, the AncestryDNA database is immense.
However, if you would like to gain access to both your family history and personal genetic health risk factors, 23andMe may be the best option. That way, you can address lifestyle variables in order to influence your future health — all while gaining insight into your family history, which we will discuss in more detail below.
Ancestry Login — The Next Steps
So you’ve login to Ancestry — now what?
The first thing you will be able to look at is a pie chart, displaying the estimated breakdown of your ancestral ethnicities. This will provide you with a nicely presented overview of where you come from. In many cases, this will not only allow you to validate family stories you know but also discover genealogical “secrets” that are waiting to be discovered.
At its root, genealogy helps satisfy basic human curiosity, which is seen across all cultures and eras. As you begin to learn more about where you came from, you can better understand who you are in the present time and what that potentially means in regards to your future.
Overall, AncestryDNA can:
Show you exactly how you relate to your ancestors, providing a greater sense of connection and belonging. This can be an important step in regards to your true identity, offering a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
Strengthen the human connection, encouraging greater compassion and interest surrounding various cultures and geographical regions.
Kickstart your journey towards a healthier lifestyle. Although AncestryDNA will not provide you with genetic health reports, knowing who your relatives are can help you determine which diseases run in the family. This test can also act as a stepping stone, as you invest in further health-related genetic testing.
Would You Like to Do More with Your DNA?
Understanding where you came from is important — and everyone embarks on their own personal journey for various reasons. However, once you have discovered more about your past, it is imperative that you focus on who are you today, and what that means in terms of your future.
We all strive to live a long and happy life, and with the help of nutrigenomics, that may become much more achievable. Basically, the more you learn about yourself, the greater control you will have over your genes. That is because, in many ways, genes simply warehouse your genetic potential. Although complex, with many variables to consider, the more you understand about your genetic makeup, the more targeted key lifestyle changes become.
Although many believe that they are powerless to their genes, the interaction between gene expression and environmental variables is something that requires your attention. From diet to stress, exercise to air quality, these stimuli can have an immense impact on how your genes function — and in turn, influence your future health.
Taking the Next Step Towards Optimal Wellness
As discussed above, if you are strictly interested in learning more about your family history and who your relatives are, AncestryDNA is an ideal option. However, if you are interested in your family history as well as your own personal health, 23andMe is recommended. This will give you access to personalized genetic health reports.
In these reports, you will learn about key genetic variants that may increase your risk of disease. Of these, one of the most important is the presence of a BRCA1/ BRCA2 mutation. Since carriers have a higher risk of developing certain cancers, including breast, ovarian, and prostate, genetic testing could lead to a potentially life-changing follow-up.
Of course, just because you are a carrier of certain variants does not mean you will develop health conditions in the future. Similarly, there are many genes involved (not all of which are tested), in addition to lifestyle factors that must be considered. This means that even if someone is not a carrier of certain gene variants, that they should still remain committed to life-long wellness.
In fact, when studying how genes impact disease, this process is incredibly complex. In some cases, such as with cystic fibrosis, health conditions are monogenic. This means that if you carry the gene, you will either have the disease or be a carrier.
However, in other cases, such as hypertension (which can run in the family), the development of certain health conditions are not based on a single gene — or even genetics as a whole. Variables within your lifestyle and environment can also contribute to such conditions; and even if you carry “the gene” in relation to that specific illness, you may develop the disease — or you may not.
Bottom line: Genetic testing has made significant progress, but it does not hold all of the answers just yet. The results you receive from company’s such as 23andMe are not intended to diagnose any specific disease or health condition.
If you are worried about your results, you then have an opportunity to seek a second professional opinion. Follow-up with your physician and moving forward, alter your lifestyle. Genetic testing isn’t meant to replace clinical testing, it is intended to support it.
Your Lifestyle (and Diet) Today Will Impact Your Genes Tomorrow
For the most part, genetic tests, such as those offered by 23andMe are simply a stepping stone. These tests allow everyday people to learn more about their gene profile in relation to various potential health conditions. It’s a way to become more aware of the “what ifs” so that you can take proactive action. After all, in many ways, your lifestyle DOES affect how your genes function.
This had lead to research on epigenetics, the study of mechanisms that can essentially turn genes on and off — which is referred to as gene expression. Numerous studies have found that a number of variables play a role, namely nutrition.
As stated in one review, published in the Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure, nutrition plays a predominant role in health management. There is extensive evidence to suggest that genetic factors play a role in the development of cancer and other health conditions and that gene alterations are affected by nutrition. This complex interaction has led to the study of nutrigenomics.
Nutrigenomics can empower you to implement therapeutic interventions based on the foods and quality supplements you consume. For example, by identifying genetic variances through DNA testing, you can better understand what diseases or even nutritional deficiencies you may be predisposed to.
More on Nutrigenomics
As discussed, if you are interested in both health variables and family history, 23andMe is ideal. However, many have stated that once they receive their results, they’re unsure what to do with them — especially when faced with chronic health issues.
If this is you, then it is important to take your data to a nutritionist who has a thorough understanding of genetics. Whether you would like to enhance athletic performance or improve your mental health, genetic testing can provide you with key pieces of information. Based on this information, you will have an opportunity to heal in a more bio-individualized, therapeutic manner.
Just as you receive detailed “family history” data from AncestryDNA, your genetic material can also unlock the best possible diet for you and your unique needs. As mentioned above, this area of research focuses on the effects that certain foods have on gene expression.
Based on your 23 pairs of chromosomes, this area of research can essentially tell you what you should and should not eat. Being far more complex than your family history, this type of information could have a significant impact on your future health.
This level of research will allow you to move away from the one-size-fits-all nutritional approach that has failed so many. For example, based on your unique genetic material, your results may show that you are sensitive to starch.
That small piece of information could make a significant difference in your daily quality of life. In other cases, you may find that reducing your intake of x, y, and z could lower your risk of high blood pressure.
Focus on a More Holistic Approach
For those interested in genetic testing, do not underestimate the importance of everyday interventions in regards to your health. Whether you begin your genetic testing journey by finding out who your relatives are, before focusing on more therapeutic strategies, you have an opportunity to learn more about yourself than you could have imagined.
Although there are certain variants that will require specialized attention, for the most part, experts agree that for now, the best way to protect your future health is to invest in smart nutrition, including the use of quality dietary supplements.
As stated by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, your genetic heritage is important. This process allows you to discover slight genetic flaws that may be rectified with vitamin or mineral supplements. This is based on evidence, suggesting that genetic differences can make peoples’ enzymes less efficient than normal.
However, simple supplementation could help restore these deficient enzymes. Since there are over 600 human enzymes (which use vitamins and minerals as cofactors), it is likely that we all suffer from mutations that limit one or more enzymes.
The Next Steps…
Although you may have initially been interested in your family history, genetic testing can also open a number of health-related doors and opportunities.
If you are not yet ready to embark on this type of genetic journey just yet, it is important that you at least become familiar with some of the most common health issues plaguing the general population today. That way, you can develop healthier habits that will allow you to transition to a more strategic lifestyle in the coming weeks, months, and years.
If you would like to learn more about our approach, you can do so here — and remember, “Don’t wait for illness to start valuing wellness.” Take action today in order to potentially alter your future.
Krista majored in psychology and neuroscience, focusing on degenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. As she continued her research, she began to study the complex relationship between lifestyle variables and neurological health, including the impact these variables have on mood disorders and general wellness. She currently specializes in all aspects of neurological and physiological health, especially in relation to nutrition.