Whether you're an elite athlete, a personal trainer, or a general health and fitness enthusiast, you're likely monitoring your body's performance almost constantly. Unlike sedentary individuals, you notice the difference in how a long run feels depending on what you ate before and during. You physically feel and understand what it means to be properly hydrated. You spend hours scheduling workouts around designated recovery periods, and you've probably — if you don't currently — tracked your macronutrients at some point.
If you're an elite athlete or certified fitness professional who has dedicated your entire life to learning the ins and outs and your body (along with exactly which variables — from sleep to nutrition to recovery — produce the most optimal performance), it can seem impossible that there are things you don't know about your body.
And yet, even with a seemingly flawlessly-tailored meal plan, sleep and recovery schedule, and training program, one truth remains: You cannot out-train, out-sleep, or out-eat your genetics and physiology.
That's where precision medicine like Wild Health comes in, allowing you to lift the hood and uncover insights about your own body that may completely change your approach to training and life. But what exactly can Wild Health tell you that you don't already know? To find out, I completed a saliva-based DNA test kit from Wild Health, got my bloodwork done, and was able to meet with my health coach within days to discuss the resulting report. Here are the five most insightful things I learned about my body, plus how they can help any athlete fine tune their training, nutrition, and recovery for improved performance.
5 Things You Probably Don't Know About Your Body That Precision Medicine Will Tell You
1. Your Tolerance to Fats and Carbs
If you're used to a primarily high-protein meal plan, you'll likely notice a change in how you feel — both physically and mentally — if you switch to a high-carbohydrate meal plan overnight. We all know someone who tried a ketogenic diet and had massive success in staying lean, while others crash and burn trying to perform (or just trying to get through the day) in such a low-carb state. We recognize that every body is different when it comes to nutrition, but why is that?
Using a combination of lab work and genetic sampling, Wild Health provides a full rundown of your body's personal tolerance — or lack thereof — to carbs and fats (including saturated fat specifically).
Not only can your genetic tolerance to different macronutrients explain why you may be feeling like crap, but it can also inform your future decisions when it comes to fueling for individual performance goals. Your tailored health report provides relevant, straightforward recommendations for macronutrient intake, as well as more general nutritional tips.
2. A Micronutrient Panel of Vitamins and Minerals
Micronutrients — or vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, zinc, iron, and magnesium — are essential to your health and recovery, and your body's genetic readiness to convert, or sensitivity to, these nutrients can drastically affect your performance.
For example, your health report may reveal that you have a genetic risk for slow caffeine digestion. If you're constantly drinking or consuming caffeine late into the afternoon, you're probably sleeping like crap, which can affect your recovery. And, if you have increased risk for the COL5A1 gene (which relates to collagen), you may need to avoid repetitive movements in your training and be wary of protecting your Achilles tendon.
This panel can even provide insight on gluten and wheat sensitivities, so you can finally figure out what's really behind your mid-workout gut rot.
3. Your Body's Preference Toward Strength or Endurance Training, Slow or Fast Recovery, and Low or High Intensity
Solely based on your own interests and preferences, you probably fancy yourself either an endurance runner, and strength athlete, or somewhere in the middle (what most would call a hybrid athlete). But completely independent of which activities you prefer, your body has its own genetic predisposition and tolerance toward (or away from) different physical variables of training.
This particular portion of your health report pulls a variety of different genes to determine your genetic predisposition for fast-twitch and/or slow-twitch muscle fiber recruitment. If your body favors fast-twitch muscle fibers, you will likely excel more at short, powerful bursts of power, which is characteristic of strength training. (Personally, my results fell right in the middle of strength and endurance — a finding that can be rather ideal for an obstacle course racer.) However, if your report shows a predisposition to slow-twitch fibers, you may find more success in longer, sustained endurance activities, like distance running.
This section of the report can also reveal how quickly your body tends to recover (and how many recovery days to take), plus whether you should focus your training efforts more heavily on low-intensity sessions, or go all in on high-intensity workouts that get your heart racing.
4. A Chronic Disease Risk and Longevity Report
Athletes often worry less about chronic disease as a result of living what is considered an overall healthy lifestyle: eating a nutritious, whole foods-based meal plan, exercising regularly, and getting proper sleep. But your current lifestyle is only half the story, and Wild Health's assessment fills in the gaps.
Your comprehensive report provides a genetic cardiovascular disease risk assessment based on 27 different genes, including factors like age, high cholesterol levels, blood pressure levels, current medications, smoking status, and family history. That genetic risk combined with your lifestyle choices also provides a percentage that estimates your risk of experiencing a cardiovascular-related event in the next 10 years.
5. Your Neurobehavioral Genetics
When you're training for an event — especially an ultra-endurance event that requires hours upon hours of time in your own head — it really pays to have your mind mastered. This section of your health report measures where you genetically fall on what Wild Health calls the "Worrier versus Warrior" scale.
Here, you'll get insights on how different substances may affect the way your brain works, and how certain chemicals are concentrated in your brain. For example, the COMT gene will indicate how high or low your dopamine levels are, where higher dopamine levels can present in forms of anxiety and lower dopamine levels can result in feelings of depression, fatigue, and even muscle cramps.
Finally, you'll even get the rundown on how your body metabolizes substances such as THC and CBD, how they can affect your mood and sleep, and even how likely you are to become addicted to them.