LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Have you ever followed the exact diet as your friend, except she or he loses weight and you end up gaining weight? Or maybe you tried the same workout as a pal and had the same type of results.
The answer to why could be in your DNA.
"You're basically looking at your individual computer system and figuring out what you need, nutrient-wise, to be as healthy as possible," Dr. Kim Carpenter of Awaken to Wellness, Carpenter Chiropractic, said.
The practice is located in St. Matthews.
Carpenter has been focusing on the spine and nervous system for her patients for about 15 years. After being trained in functional medicine, she decided to add a test that looks at how a person's genetics and lifestyle affect their diet, nutrition and exercise. Variations in our genes determine how well our bodies metabolize certain compounds.
Carpenter uses the lab Pathway Genomics to get the results of her patients' DNA. All it takes is a swab inside of the cheek, and three weeks' time to get the results.
"It takes the guesswork out of the next fad diet or the next good book that's out there on diet and lifestyle, and customizes it to you based on who you are and what you need," Carpenter said.
She said just like each spine is different, each person's results are different as well.
"Your DNA is the 'why' behind everything that's taking place in your body," Carpenter said. "And so it is how you are programmed."
When the results come back, it's suggested that people follow one of four diets:
1) Low Carb, which is similar to a Paleo Diet. These people should have non-starchy vegetables, high-quality proteins and healthy fats
2) Low Fat, which consists of lean protein, fiber-rich vegetables, grains, fruit and healthy fats
3) Balanced Diet, which is a balance of healthy fats, carbohydrates, and proteins
4) Mediterranean, including fish, monounsaturated fats, low glycemic/high-fiber vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes
"In order to support your body and to give your body the nutrients it needs, the [suggested] style of eating is going to support the health of your brain and nervous system," Carpenter said.
She said she has seen drastic changes in individuals who previously had a lot of inflammation or couldn't lose weight. Some were always tired and didn't have the motivation to exercise.
As far as exercise itself goes, Carpenter also said the test looks at your body to determine if you would be better following more of a strength or endurance exercise program, although a bit of both is always recommended. It also looks at genetic variants associated with being overweight, or having elevated blood pressure.
The genetic test also looks at food reactions. For example, at what rate you metabolize caffeine. If it's fast, drinking too much coffee is not good for you and could lead to blood pressure or heart problems.
There are similar tests that people can send their samples into to get results. Carpenter said her $400 price includes an evaluation of the spine and nervous system, a review of health history, the testing, and two one-on-one consultations. Clients also receive coaching to go over the results.
We decided to put the DNA test to the test to see how it is impacting one person.
Pam Davis, 55, has always been healthy. But this Human Resources Director wants to live the healthiest life possible.
"Both of my parents died of Alzheimers," Davis said. "I was in and out of nursing homes every day for five years and I saw a lot of people who did not have a good quality of life."
Davis decided to learn what her genetics say about her diet, nutrition, and exercise.
For Pam, the results suggested she should follow the balanced diet plan, very different than the diet she had been following.
"I was very heavy on the protein side. And denied myself pretty much every carb that existed. And that's what I craved," Davis said.
Now more than half of her plate is filled with healthy carbohydrates like carrots, beets, brown rice, but not pasta.
As for exercise - her DNA test showed that she would benefit from spending 80% of her time on endurance training, like spinning, and 20% on strength training. It's the opposite of what she was doing.
"The great thing, because it's not based on recent research or the latest book or the latest posting you see on social media that says 'this is the diet you need to do,' it's based on me and my DNA," Davis said.