Are you ‘normal'?

As a practitioner, everyone expects you to be ‘perfect’, be super healthy, and have no health issues. 

Ermm… Wrong! Even if you are an expert in a specific health area, it doesn't mean you're not allowed to have issues there or elsewhere. Moreover, many practitioners become knowledgeable in their field because they were (or are) sick themselves. Take the example of a health professional who’s managing her PCOS; who better to understand how clients are feeling and where to start? 

But as a healthcare professional, do you wonder if you are 'normal'? If you are in the 'healthy range'? What’s ‘normal’ anyway? We had the opportunity during our Nutrigenomics Practitioner Programme (NPP) to interact with more than 150 practitioners about their health, with live polls about their Lifecode Gx genetic results and especially how to support them. We are sharing a few of these insights throughout this article. 

We first asked them about their lactose toleranceThe LCT gene controls levels of an enzyme called lactase which is needed to digest the sugar and lactose found in milk. It is produced on the surface of the microvilli in the small intestine. Historically, the LCT gene would have been active for the first few years of a person's life, after which there would be no need to be able to digest large quantities of milk. However, in some populations, particularly Caucasians, a common genetic variance (approx 54%) that promotes lactase production enables individuals to continue to digest milk throughout their life. In our NPP, around 86% of practitioners were lactose tolerant (either heterozygous or homozygous with the A allele), and the rest were not tolerant, and more likely to experience intolerance symptoms when consuming dairy. If you are lactose intolerant, you should minimise or avoid milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter - or look for alternatives like kefir, harder cheeses (parmesan) or plant-based milk.


As a busy health professional, caffeine can be life-saving. As you know, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant used extensively as a legal and safe performance booster. It stimulates adrenaline and dopamine release, increases alertness, focus and pain tolerance, and reduces fatigue. It also promotes lipolysis (breakdown of fats) and increases metabolism. BUT…caffeine can also cause adverse effects, including sleep disruption, spikes in heart rate and anxiety. Is that how you feel? You’re not alone. Almost 90% of the practitioners in our NPP had a variant on ADORA2, the gene involved in caffeine sensitivity! Variants on this gene increase sensitivity to caffeine, meaning that a small amount of caffeine can have a significant stimulatory effect. One of the practitioners said, “I am heterozygous on ADORA2A and can't sleep all night if I drink caffeine past 1 pm.” Same here…

We then asked the group about histamine issues. Histamine has many essential and diverse biological functions - such as protecting against infection, regulating physiological functions in the gut, and acting as a neurotransmitter - but if it’s not appropriately degraded, it can result in health issues. The DAO gene produces the main enzyme for histamine metabolism and related compounds. Variants on DAO may down-regulate enzyme activity, resulting in excess histamine and causing symptoms mimicking an allergic reaction. Alcohol is one of the most harmful products for people with DAO deficiency. It simultaneously releases endogenous histamine and blocks DAO activity, even in people not predisposed to low DAO levels. Almost 80% of the practitioners from the NPP had at least one variant, even though not all of them had histamine intolerance symptoms. If you’re a carrier of a SNP on DAO, vitamin B2 and checking copper levels might be helpful as they are cofactors of this reaction.

We could not have left out MTHFR, probably one of the most ‘popular’ genes there is… Common variations in this gene have been linked to several different health conditions and problems such as fatigue, brain fog, chronic pain, depression, heart disease and even autism. But, despite all the attention that it gets, research shows that having a SNP on your MTHFR gene is actually ‘normal’ as only 15% of the general population has a genetic profile of MTHFR free of variants. And indeed, only 10% of the NPP practitioners had an ‘all green’ result! And we know that MTHFR activity can be supported by increasing the intake of folate (B9) and the cofactors riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3), so really, all is well.

We also had to ask about alcohol. Yes, we know…but even health practitioners may indulge from time to time. Alcohol is detoxified in two steps. The first step (Phase 1) is the conversion of ethanol to, more toxic, acetaldehyde, by ADH genes. In the second step (Phase 2), acetaldehyde is metabolised to the inert metabolite acetic acid, by ALDH, which may be converted to acetyl CoA and enter the Krebs cycle.

ADH genes play a major role in ethanol metabolism to acetaldehyde. SNPs on ADH1B can lead to significantly increased enzyme activity and high levels of acetaldehyde, whereas the rate of ethanol conversion to acetaldehyde is reported to be up to 70% higher for the ADH1C wild type than for the variant genotype. Individuals with SNPs on ADH genes may experience increased toxicity (from alcohol consumption) and depletion of cofactors NAD+ (vitamin B3) and zinc, which should be replenished. 

We asked the group about their overall ADHs results, and here are the results. Most of them had a ‘normal’ acetaldehyde synthesis (52%), while a significant amount (30%) had a faster acetaldehyde synthesis, which can mean feeling more hungover (toxic) after drinking. This genotype is the most common one in Asians. The rest (18%) had a slower acetaldehyde synthesis (lucky them!) which is usually the most common genotype in European and African populations.

Do you feel ‘normal’ yet? If not, here’s one last one. 

CYP1B1 is involved in oestrogen metabolism, particularly in the synthesis of 4-hydroxy (4OH) oestrogens, which are potentially harmful to the body. CYP1B1 is induced by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), causing increased synthesis of the undesirable 4OH oestrogens and other toxic intermediates.

Most NPP participants had at least one variant on their CYP1B1. If you’re in a similar position, it’s worth knowing that CYP1B1 can be further induced by stress and inflammation, and its activity can be reduced with green tea, grapefruit and olive oil. One practitioner said: “I'm red on both CYP1B1 and NQO1 - bizarrely I craved grapefruit and horseradish massively when pregnant”. Clearly, the heart knows what it wants, but the body knows what it needs!

Anyway, as we always say, ‘knowledge is power’ and no, you’re not ‘normal’ because normal doesn’t mean anything. As we’ve just seen, even brilliant health professionals have health issues and genetic variants, but - at least having done the NPP - they know how to handle it! If you want to know more about yourself, you can register as a practitioner with us (if not already done) and order a report for yourself. And if you’d like to become an expert in Nutrigenomics and share your results, struggles, and success stories with other practitioners, do register for our next NPP starting in January 2023. Bookings will be opening shortly - watch out for our next newsletter!!

A final quote from one attendee is “This programme made me realise that we should test genes before we marry!”. 

That’s not really the key message but we’ll take it… :)

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