Everywhere you look, you’ll find messages that center around taking better care of your health. It’s a segment on every talk show, an advertisement on every other page in your magazine, a spot in each commercial break, and even a topic on this blog. Why? Because it’s extremely important to take care of the one body you’re given. The problem is that we give out mass-produced advice about health and wellness when what we really need is customization. We’re all incredibly different. Everyone has a unique set of traits, preferences, and characteristics that cause his or her body to respond differently to stimuli.
So wait…we can all go on the same “healthy” diet and it will work for some of us and not for others? Yep.
When I realized this, I wanted to dig deeper into the details of my own genetic makeup in order to learn more about my health and ancestry. I decided to partner with 23andMe, a personal genetic service that was created to help people better understand their DNA. The name derives from the fact that human DNA is organized into 23 pairs of chromosomes. I heard that 23andMe allows you to experience your DNA in a fascinating way because not only do you get to learn about your ancestry, you also gain additional insight into your health through genetic analysis. Basically, it’s an interactive way to learn more about your roots and how your genetics can play a role in your health. And these things are helpful when you really want to take a step back and see what may influence your health and wellbeing.
Every year, instead of doing a complete 360 with my health and wellness, I focus on being a little better, more conscious, and more proactive. If you just keep making small improvements, your health progress is more sustainable and your pile of good things grows! In addition to learning about your ancestry, you also learn more about how your DNA impacts your well-being. Your genetics can impact everything from your facial features and hair color to your quality of sleep, taste preferences, and caffeine consumption habits. This is a great way for people to learn more about their bodies and think of their health in the context of both their lifestyle and genetics.
The process of using 23andMe was incredibly easy. I received my 23andMe Health + Ancestry Kit and when it arrived I registered it online. I used the saliva collection tube and resealed the box. Then, I simply mailed the kit back using the prepaid label and tracked its progress with an app I downloaded on my phone. After a few weeks, I received my reports, which helped me gain a deeper understanding of my DNA and how it may influence my health.
I also wanted to dig in a little deeper, to find out more about my ancestry and the reports were surprising, to say the least. People often ask me about my ethnicity, and every time they do I offer the same response. “I’m Puerto Rican, Brazilian and Cuban.” It comes out just like that: a reflex, an automated response. After receiving my Ancestry Composition reports, I found out that I was 40% West African which is no surprise as Hispanics have a lot of African influence, plus my dad is half African American. However, what did shock me is that the other 60% is made up of Ashkenazi Jewish and British/Irish roots! What?? I had no idea. I dug a little deeper by calling my dad to gain more insight and come to find out, there were a lot of Jewish people in Cuba during the 1930’s.
It was so interesting and helpful to really dig into my DNA! Not only did it help me to learn more about my family history, but I also gained a better understanding of how my genetics can impact my health. If you’re interested in learning more about your family background and genetics, whether as a matter of health or simply out of curiosity, you can order your own 23andMe Health + Ancestry kit at 23andMe.com/scoutthecity. You can also get $30 off your order before January 31st!
Thank you to 23andMe for sponsoring today’s post.