DNA giving athletes the competitive edge

‏‏‎ ‎

Do you remember a time that television was black and white, and your mobile phone was the size of brick? These once revolutionary ideas are now a part of everyday life. So, is it too much to imagine a world where a DNA test can tell us everything we need to know about our bodies and help us to improve our health, wellness, and athletic performance?

A growing body of research is drawing attention towards the role of genetics in our health. A newly available DNA test has recently been introduced to Australian markets and is offering individuals comprehensive insight into their genetic predispositions. These tests highlight the specific recovery needs, metabolism characteristics, and physical vulnerabilities which contribute towards not only athletic performance, but everyday biological function.

Kusal Goonewardena, Director of Elite Akademy Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy has been one of the first practitioners to adopt the new technology within his own business. He is currently working with several University of Melbourne athletes to form new training regimes guided by the results from an individual’s own DNA test.

“We now know that genetics play a significant role in our musculoskeletal health, with the potential to influence physical size, athletic prowess, and even risk levels of suffering certain soft tissue injuries. By accessing comprehensive DNA information, we can gain a greater understanding of an athlete's ideal recovery time, when to train to achieve maximum results, and which nutrition and minerals to introduce to supplement physical training.”

“Moreover, in recent years, awareness around the importance of sleep and its impact on our day-to-day performance has grown tremendously. Genetics have been shown to exert a 44-50% influence on one’s sleep onset, wake time, and sleep midpoint; three crucial inputs one must consider when optimising sleep patterns and performance” explained Mr Goonewardena.

Genetic information can also underpin food preferences and intolerances, in turn influencing one’s nutritional wellbeing. Applying a genetic understanding to sleep and nutritional habits can help improve everyday performance and long-term quality of life.

Dr Carlotta Petti, PhD ANutr is the Scientific Director, Nutrigenomics at myDNA. Her qualifications in Genetics and Nutrition and subsequent studies into the interaction between DNA nutrients affecting health and wellness place her as a leading expert in this field.

“Your DNA is not your destiny! Evidence shows that athletes who incorporate DNA profiling into their training perform 3-times higher than those that do not use it. For instance, test results can identify genetic weak points so that athletes and coaches can build programs tailored to improve these areas.”

The vision to offer pharmacogenomic tests to the Australian public came from University of Melbourne alumni and myDNA founder Associate Professor Les Sheffield and later continued by his son Allan Sheffield. They have been leaders in bringing advanced scientific research to the public through combining real genetic testing with technology.

“By demystifying the science around genetics and DNA testing this new technology will eventually become more accessible and normalised. Ideally in the future the technology will become subsidised and used for mass health practice for the benefit of future generations. We are already in a much better position than we were 10 years ago thanks to research and technology developments in this area.” Commented Dr Petti.