Renowned Canadian biohacker offers tips for a longer, healthier life
Armed with genetic decoding, a longer, healthier life is possible. Meanwhile, Americans today live shorter lives on average than citizens of peer countries. Advances in DNA genetic decoding create potential for an accurate, individualized health approach that can improve outcomes and help more people live longer. According to renowned biohacker, Kashif Khan, founder and CEO of The DNA Company, living a longer, healthier life – even as long as 150 – is possible.
The DNA Company uses precision medicine and digital therapeutics to offer patients genetic insights tailored to their unique biology. They decode each person’s 20,000 genes to determine their genetic function. Empowered with information, users can then optimize the exact nutrition, lifestyle and environment their body needs.
The vision, says Khan, is where “eventually chronic disease is a choice.”
Healthier lifestyle choices for a longer life
Determining one’s genetic disposition for chronic diseases is key to making healthier lifestyle choices, says Khan. This can dramatically improve health outcomes for individuals, as well as Americans as a whole.
Some basic health improvements can extend Amercans’ lives to be on par with or better than peer countries. A Harvard study recommends five tips to live longer. Harvard Chan researchers and colleagues looked at 34 years of data from 78,865 women and 27 years of data from 44,354 men for the study and follow-up study. They found five ways to reduce the rate of early mortality and boost longevity.
Healthy diet: eating minimally processed, whole foods and grains, produce, healthy fat and natural protein, such as fish and beans.
Maintain a healthy weight: a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9
Limit alcohol intake
Genetic decoding can impact lifestyle decisions and overall health
According to Khan, healthy living is only the beginning of possible health choices one can make for longevity. “I would argue, with current science, there’s actually a lot more we can do,” he says. “Inside each one of our 57 trillion cells, there’s a literal human instruction manual.”
To live longer lives on average, Americans would need to reduce the rate of chronic disease. According to the CDC, six in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease and four in 10 adults have two or more.
Khan attributes this high rate of chronic disease to a healthcare culture that emphasizes acute care. “The challenge is, we use that same toolkit on chronic conditions, where masking the symptom or resolving the pain point isn’t enough,” he says.
Shifting to a model of healthy living based on genetic code has the potential to change how doctors treat patients.
Every cellular process in the body is instructed by 22,000 genes that make up a person’s genetic code. The specific cellular makeup for each person is a blueprint for the body. “If we dive in and read that manual, we start to understand what our bodies are capable of,” says Khan.
The possibilities for what a person and society in general can do with genetic code are endless. This is because environmental and health choices have a significant effect on how a person reacts to their body’s genetic makeup. “We can then understand why diseases happen and make precise choices to minimize their potential for occurrence,” says Khan.
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Lifestyle changes based on genetic decoding could improve cardiovascular outcomes
Consider two people with a similar propensity for heart disease, based on their genetic code. One eats a healthy diet and makes better lifestyle and environmental choices. The other does the opposite. One of these individuals is more likely to develop heart disease even though their risk was the same. Knowing their genetic code could increase the chances that each one makes healthy choices to avoid cardiovascular problems.
According to Khan, the statistics don’t have to be this bleak. “The thing that kills the most of us is the most easily preventable if you were to understand your human genome,” says Khan.
Minimize the likelihood of diseases with genetic decoding
Knowing your unique genetic makeup is a gamechanger for living a longer, healthier life. Each person has the potential to be a master of their own destiny rather than a victim of their genetic fate.
Khan’s dive into the genome was a direct result of his own suffering. He struggled with eczema, psoriasis, debilitating migraines and depression. In his journey of doctor visits, medical tests, medication, and creams, Khan saw that his doctors treated his conditions as independent, siloed events.
Instead, he considered his struggles a direct result of a failure in his genetic code. “That’s when I discovered that I could actually dive into my genome and understand why these things were happening, instead of masking their symptoms.”
Khan illustrates the power of individualized genetic decoding by understanding how dopamine affects depression. Dopamine is a chemical that allows a person to feel pleasure and reward. When this is low, it’s harder to feel satisfied. COMT and MAO break down, or metabolize, dopamine.
Khan was able to learn through genetic testing that he had low dopamine, fast MAO and ultra fast COMT. Knowing this has helped him make lifestyle choices to help him avoid depression. He says he’s able to build the right context to avoid what would be considered a disease.
His research led him to find ways to cure his ailments. “I haven’t been depressed since the day I found this out,” he says.
Khan explains how understanding your genome can improve other health outcomes as well. Each person who is born healthy has a specific risk of suffering from certain ailments. Knowing that information can enable you to set yourself up for optimal health.
“If you are exposed to the wrong environment, nutrition, and lifestyle mismatched to your genetic capacity, you may get sick. Meanwhile, if you have the correct environment, nutrition and lifestyle, you won’t get sick,” says Khan.
Armed with genetic information, Khan says, “That God-given gift of the health you’re born with, you should be able to maintain until you die.”
With DNA testing, knowing exact genes means not having to guess genetic disposition based on family history. Instead, says Khan, “Your instruction manual is already trying to tell you.”
Whether it’s anxiety, depression, cardiac disease or autism, each person has the potential to see the degree to which a gene is expressed.
Armed with genetic information, says Khan “Not only can you add years to your life, but in those years, you can also add life to your years.”
Kashif Khan is founder and CEO of The DNA Company. Khan’s team clinically reviewed 6000 patients through a genomic lens to understand why we get chronic diseases.
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