Fitness & Nutrition Deep Dive

Our co-founder, Hannah Nicholson, shares her Living DNA fitness and nutrition results and what they mean to her.

Following the launch of our wellbeing analysis which covers both fitness and nutrition, I’d love to share a detailed overview of what the wellbeing results look like and how I have applied them since getting my results.

Since day one, David and I have always felt that fitness and nutrition are a key part of what DNA can show us. If it is possible for someone to be more responsible for their health, then we are totally behind giving them the tools to make this possible.

Our wellbeing feature is designed to give you actionable insights based on the genetic makeup of your body, so you can take the steps to be ahead of your health.

I recently got my results back after upgrading my ancestry results on the Living DNA portal.

I went to the store and purchased the upgrade, and within 72hrs I had my results in my account. Simple.

My results really surprised me - stay tuned to hear more.

It’s important to state that I have already taken a Living DNA ancestry kit - so when I upgraded my results, it was simple and they all came back. If you are an uploader from another company, and you purchase the wellbeing upgrade, then this may impact the number of reports you get back - it is all down to what chip you tested on and if it is compatible.

So once your results are ready, you will be able to view them under your ‘wellbeing’ tab in your portal. Just sign in here, and in the left-hand menu bar, you can click into them.

The first thing you will see is your results dashboard. This is a summary of all the reports you have access to and what they mean. I love this page as it makes it super easy for me to see a top-level of my results, plus I can toggle through the goal icon and choose an area of focus such as energy or weight loss.

The results are broken into nutrition on the right and fitness on left.

And if you scroll down, you can see a very simple chart of your result levels for all traits.

Let's start here.

So as you can see - my results are a mix of regular, decreased and increased in my nutrition reports. Let’s explore this:

VITAMIN D - regular

Seeing that I metabolize vitamin D at a normal rate is pretty surprising. I expected to be deficient in this as most people are. But as the advice says, it is super important to make sure that I am getting high vitamin D levels via exposure to sunlight. David and I love going for a walk outside most mornings for 15 minutes - it is the small consistent things that help - as the UK can be pretty grey. I don’t take vitamin D supplements, but I am very interested in getting my levels checked.

If I click back to ‘all reports’ in the top left, it takes me back to the dashboard.

Vitamin C - regular

My report says that I metabolize vitamin C at a normal rate. But what I like about this report are the useful tips to help maintain this - so steaming veggies or eating them raw and eating plenty of spinach. I am a spinach fan but I tend to roast it so it is really crispy - so this has prompted me to think about other ways such as salads or smoothies where I could eat more raw spinach. I also found out that vitamin C and sugar go down the same pathways in the body - so if you have sugar and vitamin C together, then the sugar cancels out the vitamin C. So I now take some great supplements that are sugar-free.

Vitamin B12 - Decreased

I’m told I need to make sure I am getting enough Vitamin B12 as my body processes this at a reduced level. Now this vitamin is key for making red blood cells, supporting the nervous system and releasing energy from food. So my results suggest I should be making sure I get enough meat, shellfish, and eggs. I love eggs and eat them most mornings, in terms of shellfish - I am a prawn fan but not much else - and I typically eat lamb 3 times a week. So I’m on the right track to keep my levels up to where they need to be. But this report highlights the importance of eating those types of foods.

Vitamin A - Decreased

This was another one to watch. My genetic results indicate I may be at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking down beta carotene to create vitamin A.

A lack of vitamin A can impact eye health, your immune system, and bone health. The report suggests I make sure to get enough oily fish, eggs and yellow, orange or red vegetables.

I don’t eat dairy so milk and cheese are out, which means I have to make sure this is supplemented in other ways. I love how different veggies offer different vitamins - so upping my intake of some of these is certainly one thing I will work on. I eat salmon twice a week and lots of tuna. So it’s great to know how important these are to me.

Omega 3 - Decreased

Now looking at this and the other 2 reports - there is a bit of a theme here. It seems my body struggles to process the good fats. So since getting this report, I am going to add in a cod liver oil supplement to my diet. Whilst I do eat oily fish such as salmon - I eat it because the whole family likes it, not because I am consciously aware that my body needs it - so this helps shift my mindset. I’m not a nut person - meaning I don’t eat flaxseeds or walnuts. So this is certainly something to consider - how I would add these to foods or salads.

Lactose intolerance - regular

Since I was little I found it hard to digest milk so I am totally dairy-free. Whilst this report says I can digest lactose, I still stand by what my body’s response is first and foremost. I get my sources of calcium from things such as seaweed. This makes a great point about lactose being hidden in sauces and ingredients. When I cut it out I had to read certain labels to make sure it wasn’t present.

Celiac disease risk - variant found

This result made a lot of sense. I cut out gluten many years ago, because after I ate it - I would feel bloated, tired and heavy. My body simply doesn’t agree with it. So this report was very confirming of how incredible it is to listen to our bodies after everything we do - exercise and food is a huge part of this. When I first stopped eating gluten I went to substitutes as there are plenty available. But I found that a lot of them had pretty high sugar contents, so my diet is now very simple and I really love feeling lighter in my body. The 3pm slump just doesn’t exist for me these days.

Carbohydrates and sugar - regular

This report highlights a key point for me which is about the importance of sleep. Since adjusting my sleep patterns, I have noticed an incredible difference. Have you ever felt like you go to sleep because you are exhausted? That was a big pattern for me for many years. Pushing myself in the day, staying up late, and then sleeping to reset my batteries, but then always in the pattern of resenting waking up. I hated getting out of bed. Until I started to change my entire night time - and I still am. Now instead of staying up late, I go to bed soon after the kids. I noticed a huge difference by not doing anything too stimulating like emails or TV just before bed. Rather I read a book, have a bath, chat with my husband and then go to sleep feeling like I am ready to rest. When I wake up these days, I don’t feel tired - I feel fresh. It is a totally different way of going to sleep. So this report makes sense about how important sleep is to be able to break down carbs.

Now onto fitness…

I love moving the body and exercising. This can be in the form of walking, doing light floor exercises or weights. My relationship with exercise has changed hugely over the last 6 months, with a focus to feel vital not so much to look a certain way.

I find my body builds muscle quiet easily so working out too much or lifting heavy weights can bulk me up and it doesn’t feel great. So my routine is 2-3 days a week of 30-minute circuit training, along with walking 4 times a week. At the moment this suits my body. Seeing the results has helped me to refine my program.

Endurance oxygen flow - increased

This report tells me that my body would benefit from things like circuit training - which makes sense. I’m not built for prolonged activity and running just makes me feel awful so I’ll take this report as a confirmation of the exercises I have chosen.

Maximum strength - increased

I’ve always been one to lift heavy things, and this report was very useful in that my genetic report suggests I have greater muscle ability to perform heavy weight training or intense activities with heavy rest.

Whilst this report wouldn’t get me to buy a muscle belt, it’s great to know what kind of weights are best and to explore how heavier weights and fewer reps could become part of my routine.

Recovery speed - decreased

This report suggests more rest time between activities

Getting plenty of protein and water is a key point here -and something I’ve never taken seriously. So this report has prompted me to make sure my levels are what they need to be - and also to make sure that I listen to my body and rest when I feel tense or sore after working out.

Tendon durability - increased

My take on this is that whilst my body can recover quickly - I still have to be aware of making sure I build up new activities in my body before I jump right in. I have a tendency to want to try something in full - for example - if I try a new exercise I’ll want to do 20 reps and ‘test’ myself - but there is no need. I can be a lot more gentle and put my body first - not the achievement.

Endurance trainability - increased

Long-distance exercise isn’t really my thing, so whilst this report suggests I should try things like running, it’s a no for me. The one thing I would try is to increase my workout times and see how my body feels. At the moment, I’ll do 30 minutes - so my challenge for January is 40 minutes.

Endurance blood vessel response - regular

This suggests my blood flow is regular so my muscles are getting a normal amount of oxygen flow. The exercises suggested are all things I naturally do so that is a confirmation.

Overall - I walked away from these results a little surprised at how able my body is. I don’t have any excuses not to be working out. I am a mid 30’s working mum and keeping fit is a responsibility I have to my body. So all these reports indicate the importance of a regular routine that is suited for my body. I really loved seeing this kind of detail and being able to know the weight type and the activity type that is best suited.

This month I am going to explore longer training periods, different kinds of weights and more water. Bring it on.