SNiP’s are single nucleotide polymorphisms. These are subtle changes in the genetic sequence of the code that tells our body how to make a protein or enzyme. When the genetic recipe contains a variation from what is considered “normal” then this variation has the potential to cause health issues or risks of health issues when we are exposed to environmental triggers.
As mentioned previously, when we have a homozygous variant, the effects on the functioning of the enzyme coded for will be impacted to a much greater degree than if we have just one of our alleles that is a variant. When just one of our alleles is affected it is called a heterozygous variant. This reduces the ability of the enzyme to do its job by about 30% versus the 70% impact of a homozygous variant.
The homozygous variants in some of the key metabolic areas of the body are critical to understanding where the diseases come from that seem to run in our families. Heart disease is our number one killer in the United States and there is a very strong familial component to the onset of disease as we age. That’s not to say that diet and lifestyle have nothing to do with it. They are merely triggers of an underlying risk lying hidden in the genes until now.
When we are armed with this sort of information, we can begin to be proactive against its potential expression and begin a very focused preventive program. One designed for your genetic risk factors. Even the medical world is taking notice and beginning to get their patients tested for genetic variants that might cause them to react negatively to certain medications. At least this is a step in the right direction. They would be better served to study the effects of these genetic variants on the absorption and assimilation of nutrients in these patients and the supplementation that can make up for a lack of enzymatic activity.
The key to beginning to balance the body and make up for lack of some of these enzymes is to determine how the enzymes work and what cofactors it needs to do its job better. For instance, a homozygous SNiP for the VDR gene causes the person to not be able to absorb vitamin D well. They have sluggish receptors for vitamin D which are located on the nuclear membranes of our cells. When we begin to do research into the functioning of this receptor, we can see that it requires vitamin K and vitamin A to be able to work better to then absorb vitamin D. This simple concept has very powerful ramifications for the person with this defect. A “Google Scholar” search of the VDR gene variants and the risk factors this poses to these people shows that just upregulating the function of that one gene can begin the process of preventing cancer, depression, immune system dysfunctions such as autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, and so much more. Increased levels of vitamin D absorption has enormous positive ramifications.
Depending on the functioning of the enzyme and its requirements, we can approach these genetic variants in several ways. One way is to simply “jump over” the block in the biochemical pathway by giving the product that would have been created in the reaction if the enzyme were functioning correctly. For example, the genetic variant MTHFR (methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase) has the specific job of converting folic acid into methylfolate, the active form of folic acid. If we have a genetic variant there, the ability to make methylfolate is greatly reduced which essentially cripples our ability to make the lifesaving methyl groups that are so protective of our cells. So, in this case, we would give this person methylfolate in the supplemental form to help their body make up for lack of this ability. The results of doing this are quite profound.
The second way we can make up for the genetic deficit is to increase the nutrients that are needed as cofactors for the enzyme to work correctly. As in the case with the VDR variant mentioned above. Vitamin K and A are required to help the body absorb vitamin D.
Yet another way to make an enzyme work a little better is to increase the amount of methyl groups in the body. Methyl groups are extremely important to many of our biochemical processes in the body to function well. One example is the conversion of norepinephrine into epinephrine. (Noradrenalin into adrenalin). This process is critical for our adrenals to work properly and to respond to external stressors. Being able to break down those stress hormones is also enhanced by methyl groups being donated by another molecule, in this case, SAMe (S-adenosyl Methionine).
When we have dietary deficiencies due to lack of good sources of food in the body, excess stress, and poor soil quality overall, this lack of specific nutrients can cripple an enzyme even further. When you start with a sluggish enzyme genetically and then add nutritional deficiency to the equation, this leads to disease processes beginning. In addition, some well-meaning practitioners who are not up to date about the new information in the genetic world are recommending supplementation that can do more harm than good.
In her book, Dr. J. Dunn explores issues into why you are the way you are and how you can make changes. It’s a whole new paradigm in understanding what causes disease and mental health issues. The basis of the book talks about how to bypass your genetic makeup to help change destructive behaviors such as overeating, substance abuse, and anger.
Specific Genetic Variants (SNiPs) | Aralkylamine N-acetyltransferase
Dr. J. Dunn explains how her research was motivated because of her personal struggles to feel healthy. She had a case of mono when she was sixteen years old and suffered from lifelong depression. Since then she has battled chronic fatigue syndrome caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Looking into the history of the virus she found that 90 percent or more people have antibodies to the virus and yet don’t necessarily have an issue with it for the rest of their lives. She was also looking for true answers to her own depression. These were missing pieces in the puzzle of health, and she began her quest to search for why and how to fix them. She approached her research with a compassionate point of view, knowing that some types of behavior and health problems are caused by inherited biochemical imbalances and are not personal failings. Things such as:
Focusing Issues such as ADD and ADHD
Genetic testing can identify potential health problems and give you another tool to make informed decisions about managing your health care. Dr. J. Dunn explores how to obtain correct results and what to do with the results. She also talks about compassion for yourself and others when it comes to problems beyond our control. Her book – Genetic Compassion – will help you to understand how genes play a very important role in how we feel.