It might be the influence of millennials, the rise of online culture or more accessibility to information, but recent trends show that an increasing number of people are becoming more health conscious.
Fast food restaurants have added healthier meals to their menus, some insurance companies offer rewards to their clients who are active and there has been an outburst of unconventional exercise regimes.
But how healthy you are may all come down to genetics. Now, a local health firm is working towards shifting this mindset by working with an individual’s genes to analyse how they are expressed and where they can be modified.
Dr Daniel Meyersfield, founder of DNAlysis, says this could result in personalised health care.
“The tests we provide consider only those genetic risk factors that are modifiable through appropriate interventions. Even though we cannot change our genes, we can change the manner in which the genes are expressed and we can implement diet or lifestyle measures to negate many of the risks we identify.
“Doing one of these tests is the first step in taking more responsibility for your own health and being more proactive in maintaining good health.”
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to health care for weight management or disease prevention, but genetic tests can help an individual work towards specific health concerns.
“We are faced with a massive burden of chronic disease, the vast majority of which is preventable through the right lifestyle choices. If the genetic test can serve as the added incentive one needs to adopt healthier lifestyle habits, then that’s a step in the right direction.”
Apart from conducting genetic testing, the company also trains doctors in South Africa and abroad to offer this service.
“We had had more than 1000 health-care practitioners go through our training in South Africa alone, and are now running close to 2000 tests per month through our International Standards Organisation-accredited laboratory.”
Although the international medical industry is competitive, Meyersfield says DNAlysis is one of the few companies that places an emphasis on practitioner education and training.
“We sell our tests in close to 30 countries and have translated our reports into seven different languages.”
He is passionate about genetics and molecular biology because he believes that people should have access to as much information about their health as possible.
“There is a wealth of information sitting in journals that the average person is unable to access,” he says. “We want to close that gap and make genetic advances accessible and practical for the majority of people.”
Genetic testing, he explains, is growing increasingly popular because it allows people the opportunity to fully take their health into their own hands.
“The information we provide in our genetic reports is empowering, because armed with the knowledge of where their specific health risks lie, they are in a position to be more proactive around their health.
“I think people are embracing the personalised approach and have become frustrated with the one-size-fits-all model.
“We provide information that stays with you for the rest of your life, and put the power into your hands to make the necessary lifestyle changes to achieve optimal health outcomes."