What Does Your Genetic Profile Say About Your Health?

Each genome is responsible for a person’s eye color, his height, her hair color, as well as statistics for their risks for inherited diseases. We receive genes from both our Mother (Maternal Group) and our Father (Paternal Group). Depending on whether you were born as a male, or a female will determine the number of X and Y chromosomes.

Genetically speaking, every human on Earth is built from the same mold. 23 Pairs of chromosomes make-up an individual’s genetic blueprint however, each chromosome is made up of long chains of roughly 3 billion DNA base pairs which are unique to each person and is found in every cell in your body. Consider your genome to be a novel, and each chromosome to be a chapter of that novel and somewhat of a blueprint of who you are.

Males are born with an X and a Y chromosome, and Females are born with two pairs of X chromosomes. Ok so now that we’ve flashed back to 6th-grade science class, let’s talk about how you can use your genetic information to your advantage.

 Over the last decade, genetic testing has become more readily available to the public with companies like 23andMe helping individuals to gain insight into not only their genetic makeup, but their traits, ancestry composition, health predisposition, and wellness reports.

Of course, there are other factors that can affect one’s health as well like: your environment, diet, exercise, and daily lifestyle habits. Looking into your genetic composition is not only fun and surprising, but it can also be very interesting! You will be utterly amazed at what you will discover should you decide to purchase a kit and see what’s going on in there.

Although genetic testing is still in its early stages from a medical reliability standpoint, the technology continues to improve, and as more data is gathered scientist can be more sophisticated with how DNA is analyzed and will assist with giving insight on genes and the correspondences with illnesses and how to treat them. The majority of companies that do this type of genetic and ancestral testing tend to use a simple saliva test, and some go even deeper and use blood samples.

So, what’s your story, and how do you find out? Most genetic testing kits can vary anywhere from $59.00 dollars to upwards of $199.00 dollars or more. But you should be cautious! Not all test, nor the labs they are tested in are created equally, and some labs have different standards than others.

You’ll want to look for a CLIA or (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment) certified Lab, which in laymen’s terms means that the testing is performed by a top-quality laboratory, using the latest and greatest technology like the Illumina Global Screening Array, and tested by certified individuals who are qualified to do so.

Typically, you’ll purchase a kit, the kit show’s up in the mail, fill out the registration form, spit in a tube and mail it back with the postage paid box it came in. After about 3 to 8 weeks you’ll receive a notification through an email (if that’s the option you chose) about your results.

Specifically, with 23andMe you can learn so much about yourself like: what percentage of your DNA comes from a region or continent, if you are predisposed to certain deficiencies or genetic mutations, what percentage of your genes you share with Neanderthals, the probability of being lactose intolerant, or if your hair color changes color in the sun.

And what’s more, now there is a way for you to connect with your genetic family on the DNA Family social media platform. If you are an American living in Indiana, imagine having third cousins in Iceland, and fourth cousins in Australia just as an example. Amazing I know right! 

Having a more accurate map of your genes and DNA will offer greater access to what was once complicated medical information. With this information, you can both improve and safeguard you and your family’s health. Let’s not forget, if you’re a parent, you have passed your genetic information down to your children as well…or at least half of it. Just one gene may have hundreds or even thousands of variants. Testing these variants may give some insight into the risk for ovarian or prostate cancer, or even diabetes and breast cancer, etc. Stay tuned for the next post where we will go even further with how and why you should alter your daily routine to make you and your loved one’s genetic health the best it can be. Cheers!

Children’s Education:

The Importance of Reading to Your Children – The Lost Art

Introductory Post – Benefits of Reading

We all know reading to our children is important, right? But do we realize HOW important it really is? As a parent, reading to our children daily is one of the most important habits we can develop to not only enhance their vocabulary but to also develop their cognitive abilities, listening skills and personalities.  Taking the time to read to your kiddos also helps them understand a world outside of their own all the while strengthening your family bond.  Who wouldn’t want that for their children?  In this series of articles, you will learn the ins and outs of what goes on inside the minds of your littles, the science of why it’s important, ways to engage and make reading the same book over and over (and over again) more fun for you and other various tips. 

There are many benefits that come with exposing your child to reading at a young age.  Cognitive benefits, developing personality traits and boosting their future successes are just a few.   So let’s dive right in with some of the obvious and not so obvious benefits.  

  • Strong Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension: Kids who comprehend the most from their readings are those who know and have been exposed to a lot of words. The best way to be exposed to a lot of words is (of course) reading!!  
  • Develops Imagination: Imagination is the window to creativity.  When reading to an infant or toddler, the brain is working hard bringing those images to life in their mind. They are listening to the words and looking at the pictures and using their imagination to bring the story to life. One of my favorites that share this example is “The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears”. My son and I are absolutely glued to this one!!
  • Creates a child-parent bond: Reading to your infant, toddler, or even grade school child creates a strong bond.  It also gives your child a sense of well-being, comfort, protection, and intimacy.  
  • Exercise for the brain and improves concentration: Reading is a complex task believe it or not. It strengthens the brains connections and builds new ones.  As a child reads, they also have to sit still and focus which helps them develop better concentration skills.   
  • Better success in school: Children who are good readers not only excel in their English class but in all related subjects!! 
  • Helps Develop Empathy: As children get older, they will begin to imagine how they would feel in situations in their stories and will begin to understand and share the feelings of the characters. This will help them implement this understanding into their everyday life. 
  • Helps develop proper motor skills: Here’s one you may not have thought of.  Reading helps to develop proper motor skills in your child. Simply asking your child to help you turn the pages of the book, lift a flap or ask them to lift books up to see what’s underneath them all helps with the development of their motor skills.

These benefits just skim the basics of the importance of reading to your children.  It only takes 20 minutes a day to deliver these benefits to your child!  You don’t have to read for 20 consecutive minutes, you can read in whatever time frame works for you on any given day.   And….it can be the same book over and over as repetition is also a benefit (but we will discuss that next time so stay tuned!!).  

This article focuses a lot on reading to babies and toddlers but it is just as important to read aloud to your older kids as well.  Don’t stop reading to them just because they can read.  Look for these benefits in a future article. 

Chicken Lasagna!

Low-Calorie Meal for the Whole Family

What meal to make on a time crunch?

A traditional lasagna is an all-time family favorite for many households everywhere. While a traditional style lasagna is super delicious, most of the time it can be full of unnecessary calories, saturated fats, and even sugar.

You can now serve up this family favorite, without the guilt and without compromising on flavor!!! We have made some simple, healthy swaps and in return come up with a delicious lasagna recipe that is a well-balanced, nutritious meal. Full of fiber, quality protein, vitamins, and minerals, you will feel satisfied without the bloating that can be associated with traditional style lasagna.

In replacement of the highly refined (and high calorie) lasagna pasta sheets that are generally void of any nutrients, we have replaced them with slices of zucchini. Zucchini slices are a fantastic alternative, they hold the dish together well, while also increasing the nutritional profile of each serve. Zucchini’s contain 0 fat, very little calories and contain an array of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B6, C, and K, folate, potassium, and manganese. They also contain antioxidants and phytonutrients which will help reduce and prevent inflammation in the body. As zucchini is also high in fiber and water, this wonderful vegetable will improve digestion. Regular consumption can even help prevent IBS and other digestive issues.

A well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein choices (such as the chicken breast in this recipe), rich in complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, while reducing your calorie intake is the foundation to a healthy lifestyle. As you will quickly learn, healthy food can still be exciting and flavorsome, just as this recipe proves. Enjoy!

Serves: 6

Ingredients

2          Lg                                Zucchini drizzled with Olive oil

1          lb                                 Skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced

1                                              Onion, peeled and diced

2                                              Cloves of garlic, minced

4          Cup                             Passata (Tomato Puree)

1          Cup                             Vegetable stock

¼         Cup                             Tomato Paste

2          Tbsp                            Balsamic vinegar

2          Tbsp                            Fresh Thyme leaves

2          Tbsp                            Fresh oregano leaves

¼         Cup                             Fresh basil finely chopped, Salt and pepper to                                                        taste

15        oz                                Skim ricotta cheese

1                                              Egg, lightly whisked

2                                              Egg whites, lightly whisked

3/4                                           Cup Fat-free shredded cheddar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cut zucchini lengthways, into slices 1/2″ thick. Soak slices in salted cold water, 30 minutes. Pat dry and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile in a large skillet heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add chicken and sauté for 4 minutes until browned. Drain well.
  5. Add the diced onion and garlic, sauté for another 2 minutes or until onion is soft.
  6. Stir in the pasta (puree), vegetable stock, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper.
  7. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes uncovered.
  8. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and lightly whisked egg and egg whites. Set aside.
  9. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with a little olive oil.
  10. Spread 1 – 2 cups of the cooked chicken and sauce over the bottom of the pan.
  11. Arrange slices of the zucchini over the chicken mixture. Cover with 1 – 2 cups of the chicken and sauce.
  12. Spread half the ricotta mixture on top. Arrange another layer of zucchini slices over ricotta, and top with another 1 – 2 cups of chicken and sauce.
  13. Spread remaining ricotta mixture on top. Arrange a final layer of sliced zucchini over the ricotta mixture and top with the shredded cheddar.
  14. Cover lasagna with foil and bake for 30 – 40 minutes.
  15. Remove the foil from the lasagna and bake for an additional 10 minutes uncovered or until golden brown on top.
  16. Serve with your favorite side salad or simply enjoy on its own.