23andMe and food!

Have you heard of 23andMe?  It is a personal genomics company that will determine your DNA sequence at certain positions (specifically, the positions that are known to vary between different humans.)  They then use this data, along with established genetics research, to provide information about your health, traits and ancestry – essentially interpreting your genome for you!  I first heard about 23andMe almost four years ago when I was an undergrad taking a genetics class at UCSD.  It seemed way cool, but the cost was in the hundreds of dollars, so I decided to wait until the price was more reasonable.

Fast forward to now, and I have my 23andMe results!  I’m actually taking a class this quarter where we are analyzing our raw data generated from 23andMe, which I’m really excited about 🙂 This was my main motivator for finally getting genotyped.

In looking at my results, I find that there are quite a few SNPs associated with eating.   (FYI: a SNP is a single nucleotide polymorphism – essentialy, a single base {A,T, C or G} in your DNA that is known to vary in populations.)   I thought it might be fun to go through these traits, and discuss whether 23andMe predicted things correctly 🙂

In order of highest confidence predictions to lowest confidence :

–  Bitter taste perception: Can taste certain bitter flavors

Yep! And this is probably why it took me a long time to just tolerate the taste of beer and brussel sprouts.

– Lactose Intolerance:  Likely to be lactose intolerant.

This result surprised me the most, I think.  In my younger years, it wasn’t uncommon for me to drink 2-3 glasses of milk a day without any issues.  I don’t drink cow’s milk any more, but that’s because I now find non-dairy milks to taste better.  I think my dad is lactose intolerant (at least, I’ve never seen him with a glass of milk), and I know my brother is to a certain extent, so  I guess I shouldn’t be too perplexed that I have inherited a defective lactase enzyme.   Maybe this just means that my gut bacteria are really good at digesting lactase :-p

– Caffeine metabolism: Slow caffeine metabolizer

A slow caffeine metabolism means that caffeine tends to stay in your body longer than if you had a fast caffeine metabolism.  This generally means that you are more sensitive to the “effects” of caffeine.  I’ve actually avoided coffee pretty much my whole life because I don’t want to get addicted to it, so in a way it’s difficult to know how much I am affected by caffeine.  However, a couple months ago I drank a small cup of chai tea latte and …well… let me just say that I did not tolerate it too well 😦  I’ve also gotten headaches from eating a little bit of chocolate regularly (the headache comes when I stop eating it regularly.)  That, along with the fact that caffeine gives my mom and my brother pretty horrible headaches, and I’ve only heard my dad order “decaf”…well, I’m pretty sure this interpretation for me is correct 🙂

-Food preference:  Typical intake of sweet products and typical daily sugar consumption.

Hm, I’m not so sure what to make of this…I suppose I tend to eat more sweets than the average person, but those sweets tend to be lower in sugar than the average sweet, so then that brings me to “typical” 😀

Well, those are just some of the interesting food-related tidbits you can find out about yourself through 23andMe 🙂  One thing I should note is that they do provide your actual genotype (i.e., AC, TT, GC, etc.) in your report – I just didn’t feel like including it here.

And just a disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with 23andMe!  I just think it’s an awesome company 😀

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2 Responses to 23andMe and food!

  1. infjvariant says:

    I also think 23andMe is a good company to work in. Arielle and I have been there on a visit. The company is small but appears vibrant with employees mostly in the 20s-early 30s. The quality of science is good, and staff morale is high.

    • mtmichelle says:

      23andMe CEO/co-founder Anne Wojcicki is married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, so not surprised to hear about age group and fun work environment at 23andMe.

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