When car manuals were still issued in print, we all had a slightly better idea of how our vehicles worked. At the very least, we had information readily available so we could understand what the light on the dash was telling us.

Now imagine if our bodies came with a similar manual, or a unique set of schematics. The potential for better care and maintenance of our selves is immense, and having the data on hand would give healthcare professionals a new edge. What if we were to tell you that this information is more readily available than you think?

Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Alex Proimos.

Our very nature has propelled us to create a reactionary healthcare system. The ‘if its not broke, don’t fix it’ attitude may cut down health-related visits upfront, but it places us at risk of letting illnesses develop much further than they ever should have before seeking medical advice. This means that when we have blood drawn and tests run, it’s to find a problem that already has symptoms.

Think of it as analogous to a detective story. The crime has been committed, but different experts come on board to analyze the scene to help identify the culprit. Wouldn’t the ideal situation be that the crime was never committed at all?

Why test?

Genetic testing does not even come close to describing the information that can be collected through the proactive analysis of our body. YouAreUNLTD spoke to Dr. Robert Fraser, president and CEO, of Molecular You. His Vancouver-based company conducts multi-dimensional analyses to reach far beyond genetics and provide a more accurate snapshot of current health for its customers. This analysis includes an overview of metabolites, proteins and environmental factors.

“Your genetics do not change over your lifetime,” says Dr. Fraser, “so it’s quite useful to get your genetic information when you’re young. However, for an aging population genetics can be very useful in understanding which medication can be safe and effective for you. After all, one of the leading causes of death is adverse drug reaction to a medical prescription from your doctor.”

“We see this as an entirely different way to approach healthcare. Rather than waiting until you’re sick and then being reactionary, think of it more as a
continuum of care.”

Genetics plays a critical role in who we become, but on its own doesn’t really tell us too much about our health at any given moment. That’s where the ‘multi-dimensional approach’ comes to the fore. Our genes are programmed to produce proteins for a wide range of purposes across the body, and when these proteins function, they produce metabolites. Both proteins and metabolites interact with the environment, so by looking at them in addition to lifestyle, a more complete picture starts to emerge.

This complete picture provides the information that we need to be proactive with our health. “We’re aiming to separate aging from disease,” explains Dr. Fraser. “We don’t necessarily die of age, but we do die of a disease. As you age, your health is constantly changing, so you have to stop thinking about being reactionary about your health. You need to be more proactive and this can only be done through understanding where you are now, what you can do about it and how to mitigate risks so that you can live a longer and healthier life.”

What’s next?

To become proactive, you need to make changes to your diet and lifestyle based on your own unique ranking for disease risk. For example, Molecular You recommends changes around nutrition, exercise and rest, as well as some supplements that may be useful to you. In addition to this, you receive a list of which medications would be safe and effective for you, as well as a list of medications that may result in complications for you.

A sample recommendation may suggest that you reduce your red meat intake and add more white fish to your diet, while finding ways to boost your fibre. Or perhaps it may suggest adding the supplements you need to make up deficits and reduce your inherent risk of a particular disease.

While the science behind the analysis is complex, the resulting actions are not. Taking action on findings may not be remotely as difficult as you think. Suggested changes may be very specific, which can make them achievable. Instead of generic ‘lose weight’ recommendations, plans may focus on reducing meat intake and replacing it with plant-based sources of protein. This means that assistance is not a necessary requirement of this process, though there is no harm in sharing the findings with your healthcare practitioner. 

How does his affect my healthcare?

One of the larger questions is how this affects healthcare. To return to the original analogy we are providing the detective (healthcare provider) with a wealth of evidence in advance, which allows them to take the steps to attempt to stop something bad happening.

“We see this as an entirely different way to approach healthcare,” says Dr. Fraser. “Rather than waiting until you’re sick and then being reactionary, think of it more as a continuum of care. You find out what are the things that you are at risk for, take action against them early on and avoid those chronic diseases, which are almost all avoidable.”