In this episode, I am speaking with Kashif Khan, founder of the DNA Company about how to use DNA testing and functional genetic testing to level up your health and brain function.
Table of Contents
In this podcast, Kashif and I discuss:
- How to prioritize your health efforts—no more guessing about solutions for brain fog, fatigue, and weight gain
- What the BRCA gene actually tells you about breast cancer risk (every woman needs to hear this)
- How to accurately interpret your genetic profile through the lens of robust health, not fear
- The top 2 causes of chronic illness (and no, they aren’t gene variants!)
- The problem with most genetic tests and why they aren’t giving you the information you really need
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Ari: All right, Kashif, welcome back to the show.
The fundamental difference between genetics and functional genetics
Ari:First of all, let’s talk about the difference between genetics and functional genetics, or genomics and functional genomics. How do you distinguish between those two?
Kashif: Genetics is most likely what a lot of people are familiar with and what they think is possible, which is, let me run a test, find out what version of this gene I have, like the study of the gene version, the variant or if not variant, the normal version, and what propensity or disease does that point to. I get something that says I have an 80% chance of Alzheimer’s, and good luck. That’s genetics. That’s worth the science needed to start there. Let’s understand what all these genes do and let’s start to research them.
The human genome was only fully finished being sequenced this year, or last year, I should say, 2022. Functional genomics, we already know enough about what each gene does. How do we consider the epigenetic habits of lifestyle, environment, nutrition, and take us away from this probability or propensity based, you got an 80% chance Alzheimer’s, to why did 20% not get it? What do I do? How do I be that person? I didn’t want to just walk around and wait. That layer of research didn’t exist because the geneticists were sitting in one silo studying the genes.
Clinicians were over on another side helping people, nobody filled the gap. Functional genomics is exactly that. Genes reported in the biological pathways that they actually occur in the body as opposed to this gene, this gene, this gene, which is not the way the body works, there’s systems that we already understand. Then the epigenetic factors that pull you in either direction, that turn the dial on. Are you in the 80% or in the 20%? Now all of a sudden it’s very actionable. You can now build this personalized playbook. When you hear about Alzheimer’s, it’s not about worrying, it’s about having an action plan and not getting it. That’s where we’re now at with the science
What the BRCA gene really tells you about your risk of breast cancer
Ari: If someone has the BRCA gene for breast cancer, should they cut off their boobs to prevent breast cancer?
Kashif: That’s a perfect example. BRCA is this scary four letter word for women, and even today you ask most doctor, “What does BRCA mean?” They will tell you, “Breast cancer risk.” It has nothing to do with breast cancer risk and that’s exactly why genetics on its own is broken. BRCA is a tumor repairing gene. If, God forbid, you got breast cancer or any kind of cancer, it goes and fixes it. It also repairs damaged DNA, it also repairs cells. It’s a repair tool. It’s going through the body looking for broken things to fix all the time.
Now, if you have a certain version of BRCA, you don’t do a good job of repair, which means again, God forbid, you got cancer, breast cancer, you’re less likely to survive because you don’t do a good job innately of repair without any other intervention. That still didn’t answer the question, “Why did it happen? I wasn’t born with it. I’m not born with prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer. Why did it happen around the age of 50-ish?” Some women, and we can determine this genetically, make a lot more estrogen in their hormone pathway.
This is what we see about the pathways and biology in which the human actually acts as opposed to a gene and a gene and a gene. The hormone cascade is already known. Progesterone flows into testosterone, flows into estrogen, there’s some variability there and then there’s estrogen metabolites. Some women just fill that estrogen bucket a lot more. Step one of three, estrogen dominant, as we call it. In that estrogen dominance, some women in the metabolite that they converted into before they have their menstrual cycle, might have a toxic version.
There’s three options, two hydroxy, as they call it, as a clean pure. That’s the what you want as a metabolite and then 4 and 16 are toxic, 16 being more toxic than 4. Now, if you are estrogen-dominant and you’re going into the 4 or 16 pathway, you’re making a toxin, then you need to look at step three, how well do I detoxify this toxin? Your glutathione pathways, your anti-oxidative pathways, there’s some interesting things going on with you by the way there we’re going to look at, how well do I get rid of this stuff?
If you’re estrogen-dominant, estrogen-toxic, detox pathways don’t work, there’s a monthly load of inflammatory [unintelligible 00:06:23] every single month. Then you get into menopause and you don’t have a menstrual cycle anymore and you’re not getting rid of it, and you’re going into a hormone replacement therapy and loading the estrogen. Or you spent 15 years on a birth-control pill and you loaded the estrogen. Or you don’t understand the endocrine disruptors and hormone mimics in your environment, the chemicals in plastics and [unintelligible 00:06:44].
All this stuff that as they enter your body, your body treats them as more estrogen-filling that estrogen-toxic bucket. That’s where the epigenetics come in. You might have this profile, you might have the wrong epigenetic exposures, and then you might be in menopause and no longer have a menstrual cycle and your body’s like, “What do I do with all this toxicity that’s going to damage all my organs?” It goes in and stores it in fat to protect you. This is why some women actually get stuck with weight plateaus because they’re so toxic.
It’s not actually the fat, it’s the toxicity for which the fat is being used to store it and protect you. Where do women have fat? In their breasts, hips and breasts, essentially. Now you have the why behind, why did I get so much inflammation that led to cellular degradation and eventual cancer developing in this particular area? That’s the why, and this is the point when BRCAs now supposed to get to work and fix that cancer that has been developed.
By the way, if you cut your breasts off, you didn’t get rid of the fire, you still have the estrogen dominance, toxicity, no detox, you’re just going to get ovarian cancer. Guess what’s now being said genetically, BRCA is also linked to ovarian cancer. Without any of the functional insights into what’s actually happening in the body. Because the intention of genetics is what drug can we make? What pill can we make? It’s not how do we prevent the disease in the first place? Now name a chronic condition, and you can speak to this level if you look at it functionally.
Ari: Yes. It’s interesting to see body parts as expendable.
Ari: Thank God, I’m not in that paradigm and somebody didn’t tell me that I was at risk of penile cancer.
The obesity gene, obesity, and lifestyle
Ari: It’s like obviously if somebody tells you you’re at risk of brain cancer, it’s like, “Well, should I cut out my brain?” It’s a crazy paradigm to think this way, and yet it’s nobody’s fault at the individual level, it’s the fault of a culture that has overemphasized the importance of specific genetic variants as determinants of disease instead of speaking about them in the proper context as increasing relative susceptibility relative to somebody else with another variant. I think the obesity gene is a great example of this.
For decades we’ve had media articles published about, “Oh, obesity gene this, obesity gene that.” Yet if you actually understand the context, if you study the science around obesity, you realize, “Well, really no humans were obese prior to like 100 years ago.” Obesity was this extraordinarily rare occurrence among traditional living humans. Genetics haven’t changed profoundly in the last 100 years, only lifestyle and the environment has changed, and obesity rates have skyrocketed in a few generations. It can’t be genetics that are the cause of this. It is of course a disease of lifestyle.
Yet if you don’t understand that context, somebody talking about the obesity gene could make you think, “Oh, if I have that gene, I’m destined to be obese.” When in fact it’s really just saying in the context of an obesogenic world, an unnatural world filled with a willy wonky and treasure trove of temptation that is totally unnatural for the human species to exist in, some people will be more prone to becoming obese relative to some other people, which doesn’t mean a whole lot. Anyway, do you have any thoughts that you want to add?
Kashif: Yes. There was a story that just came out on 60 Minutes where there was a healthcare advisor to the Biden administration that came out on 60 Minutes saying that obesity is– There’s a 50% to 80% likelihood of being obese if your parents are obese. It’s purely genetic and it has nothing to do with environment and lifestyle. That’s literally what was said by the White House on 60 Minutes last month. No surprise that Ozempic is being launched in the same month, which is a major [unintelligible].
Ari: Explain to people what Ozempic is.
Kashif: Essentially, it inhibits the desire for food and makes you lose weight. It’s a major weight loss drug that every celebrity is now using. Chloe Kardashian doesn’t look like herself anymore. Now it’s sold out everywhere. It was originally designed for diabetics and insulin response and now it’s being used as just like a fat loss drug. What really is going on, yes, there are genetic profiles that point to greater propensity of weight gain, et cetera, but without the lifestyle load, it doesn’t happen.
Ari: That’s right.
Kashif: We now know we live in a reality where everything sucks. The food sucks, the chemicals sucks, the environment sucks, the pesticides in our grass, the thing that I clean my desk with, my laundry detergent, it’s all horrible. Now what am I going to get? What problem am I going to get? That’s what your genes are going to point to, which biological function doesn’t work. What job does my body not do well? For example, FTO gene, signals satiety of the gut. How well does your stomach tell your brain, “I’ve eaten enough”? If that doesn’t work well, and you also have a poor insulin response, which we can determine genetically, and you eat bread for every meal, you’re probably going to gain a lot of weight. You’re never going to finish that loop of satiety. You’re not going to get there.
The MC4R gene determines satiety in the pallet. How well do you get satisfied in your mouth? This was a survival mechanism of our ancestors seeking out variety. The only thing that causes a satiety is variety. You need soupy, salty, crunchy, you need sour, you need soft, you need everything. It’s not that, “Oh, I have this gene now I can’t get satiety.” No, go eat like some trail mix. Have a nut and a piece of cheese and a grape and create the satiety. Just like when you sip on Thai food, it’s a wow factor because you’re getting everything you need. Hormones are the same. There’s some women that are like, “I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do.” If you’re estrogen-dominant, your body’s just much more likely to have cellulite, store fat because you are fertile.
You’re designed to be that ideal fertile woman. That’s what’s going on there. When you get into menopause, the opposite can happen. When there’s low estrogens, you end up storing fat. All we’re saying, here’s the problem. Wait, there’s not one single answer genetically to why you have that problem. There’s enough threats where everyone’s going to have that problem. Now, if we can pinpoint what job your body doesn’t do well, that’s the area where you need to focus.
Supplement that, adjust that, turn the dials on the load you can’t handle for that. Then your problem goes away. It’s not an obesity problem, it’s not a weight problem. It may be a serotonin problem. I lean on food as a coping mechanism because my brain doesn’t work. That’s where I need to focus. That’s really how you can be more functional about this stuff.
Nutrition and lifestyle – the true cause of chronic disease
Ari: Got it. I think that’s an important point. We should maybe come back to that and continue to emphasize that throughout this podcast. I want to zoom out for a second and express, as I expressed to you previously in our episode that is now in the ethers, some of my general skepticism of this whole area. I think this segues very naturally on the back of what we’re just talking about, In general, this problem of over-emphasizing the importance of genetic variants as being a determinant of disease risk. The context here that I think is important for people to grasp is–
Forgive me for playing devil’s advocate here in the context of interviewing you about your stuff, but this is my position and my perspective on the landscape of human health. I have a strong bias to recognize that over 80% of the chronic disease burden right now in the modern world is driven by diseases of nutrition and lifestyle, and only a tiny portion of diseases are actually true genetic diseases.
This landscape of the vast majority of chronic disease and morbidity that people are suffering from is driven not by their genetic variants, but driven by their nutrition and lifestyle in their environment. Mainly their choices of what they’re choosing to put in their bodies and how they’re choosing to use their brains and bodies. I think it’s important to ground all of this in a context where we are saying the importance of nutrition lifestyle is the main factor dictating disease risk.
We also know that there’s been, in the last few decades, this transformative change in how we view genetics from genes as dictating our destiny towards the science of epigenetics and realizing that actually our behavioral choices, our lifestyle factors, our nutritional choices, our environment, what we have going on psycho-emotionally is actually influencing the expression of our genes and whether certain genes are getting turned on or off or to what degree they’re being switched on and off.
We realize actually this whole stuff about our behavior and our lifestyle is heavily influencing our genes, which we thought were these determinants of so much of our health and our behaviors and so on. Given that, can you make the case for our listeners about the importance of understanding our individual gene variants as risk factors for our health status?
Kashif: I agree with you. I don’t see it as risk factors. I see it as something else. I see it more as what you prioritize. I agree with you, it’s more than 80%. The CDC says that of our $4 trillion healthcare budget, 90% is spent on chronic disease.
Kashif: $3.6 trillion of things that we don’t need to have that are all rooted in all of what you said. The reality is that our DNA is ancestrally not grandma and grandpa. It’s 200,000 years old, between 200,000 and 250,000 years old. Our reality is a tiny blip in time versus the reality that we’re designed for. Imagine the habits of 200,000– Modern agriculture is 10,000 years old, farming. That’s also a blip. The 190,000 years prior to that, those are the habits, and the environment, and the food, and the sun exposure, and everything that we are designed and wired for, which is why we still learn about, “Oh, we have this response because cavemen used to be scared of wolves attacking them in caves.” We still are wired for that, those behaviors, they happened for so long.
How to use your gene/DNA assessment to level up your health
Given that context, drop it in today’s reality, everyone’s going to be sick, unless you’re doing everything right. All we’re saying is if we know we are in this cesspool of toxic exposure in every way possible, if you can figure out what jobs your body’s already doing well and what jobs your body’s not going to do well, you can prioritize, “Here’s the thing I’m going to do,” because the majority of us aren’t going to do everything. The majority of us can do the time, the budget, the everything. You look like you’re ready to audition for the next James Bond movie, but not everybody has the ability to be a true bio-accurate, as healthy as you.
What do you focus on? Where do you prioritize? What job does your body not do well? That’s really what it comes down to. We know if you don’t focus, you’re going to get sick. This is why they have– 50% of Americans are expected to have cardiovascular disease. 50% of Americans are expected to have cancer. You turn to somebody, one of you is getting– Either it is optional, flip a coin. Why? That wasn’t the reality a hundred years ago. All we’re saying is, figure out what thing in your body isn’t doing a good job and focus there.
Prioritize, whatever your goal is. I need to lose weight. I have brain fog, I don’t have good relationships. Whatever’s going on, you can fix it by prioritizing the cellular function that’s suboptimal because there’s, all of us have things that we do well and things that we don’t do so well. You don’t need to do the things that are doing well. You as an example, have amazing mitochondrial function, when we look at your genetics–
Yes. Based on your genetics. [crosstalk] Superoxide dismutase pathway and your GPX as we call it, are perfectly aligned and they’re the best possible versions. You’re doing really, really well there.
Ari: That was to do with my Superoxide gene and GPX genes were perfectly aligned. I’ve been told that often since I was a young child.
Kashif: This is the thing that you tell people about if you focus on innate cellular health and mitochondrial resilience, it’s very difficult to get sick. You’re doing really well there. Somebody might not be doing well there and then all of a sudden they shouldn’t be running on a treadmill every day and putting themselves in oxidative stress and they maybe need to be supplementing with Urolithin A or something else which I learned from you by the way, that supports — Now all of a sudden–
Ari: From our podcast conversation that is in the ethers.
Kashif: It’s somewhere out there. That’s really the key. I don’t think it’s about understanding disease risk. I think that thinking about genetic interpretation is outdated. That’s still around pharma funding research to make a pill. I think it’s more about knowing that we’re all exposed and just where do you prioritize, because you can’t do everything.
Ari: Beautifully said. Now let’s make the situation even more complex by introducing the idea of trade-offs. There’s a quote I love from a famous economist and academic and writer named Thomas Sol and political commentator. He said there are no solutions in life, only trade-offs. Obviously he’s looking at this from a political and economic and government regulation lens. I think there’s a lot of truth to this idea on many different levels. I think it also is related to our human genetics, genetics of every species.
I think we have a tendency to look at things from a simplistic perspective where we say, let’s say this particular gene variant is bad because it increases your risk of so-and-so. Yet, I think we’re finding in a number of cases, and I suspect 10 or 20, 50 years from now, we will have a much more sophisticated understanding of what I’m about to say.
We’re finding in many cases that some gene variant that might increase a tendency for one particular bad outcome might actually have a trade off where it was protective against something else or provided a benefit in a different context. For example, and if you look at this from the perspective of natural selection and millions of years of evolution, why would evolution have selected for all these gene variants that just provide all these bad outcomes?
It makes much more sense that there would be trade-offs present in these things, that a certain variant or set of variants might increase risk for one particular outcome, but be protective or provide a benefit for survival in some other area. An interesting example of this that I remember studying was in the context of genes that increased risk of schizophrenia, and that oftentimes they run in artists and musicians families.
The people who tend to be more creative, see things from very outside the box perspectives tend to be doing art and music and contributing that creative product to the world tend to also be more susceptible to schizophrenia. There’s an interesting dynamic at play there where opening up, let’s say I imagine it as opening up certain ways of functioning of the brain simultaneously are providing a benefit and increasing risk for some particular bad effect. You could look at the obesity gene obviously through this context too.
In the modern world, it’s increasing your propensity to become very overweight. In a context of an environment where food is scarce, that’s hugely protective. To be able to not stop eating as much, to be more inclined to pile on excess body fat will help you survive an environment where food is less common. I’m curious, given that I just dabble in this area of genetics, but given that you are dedicated to it, what sorts of trade-offs do you see in this landscape?
Kashif: You’re right on and this is where particularly, so there’s two big areas where I see this a lot. Female hormone health, which I would say is the biggest gray area in medicine right now that needs the most support. It’s like, “You’re supposed to have problems. You’re hormonal. Don’t worry about it.” That’s the answer women get right now when it’s genetically it’s all black and white, it’s so easy to resolve all this stuff.
The other one is the thing that you mentioned, mood and behavior in the brain. What we learned that in our research we were patient-facing with 7,000 people. We sat and interviewed 7,000 people sometimes for a single hour, sometimes for many months, depending on what problem we were trying to deal with. We learned their actual behaviors that are driven by their neurochemicals, that are driven by their genomic map.
What we learned was everyone that said anxiety, depression, addiction, burnout, procrastination didn’t have those problems. There’s a fraction again where it’s innate. You have a, call it a chemical imbalance and you have this thing, the majority, the chronic stuff doesn’t exist. What it is is a context misalignment. Just like you said about the artist, so there’s a gene called COMP that clears neurochemicals. It also clears hormones by the way. It’s also the tail end of methylation, your anti-inflammatory response. It does multiple jobs. If you have the very slow version, couple things happen.
It’s very easy for you to be that subject matter expert, that binges that does very deep analytical work because your neurochemicals stay around for longer and you can deep dive and binge on stuff. People do actually end up having binging tendencies when their COMP is low and if their dopamine expression is high, so they stay in that pleasure or reward experience. It also causes anxiety because you get stuck in the feeling, it doesn’t go away. [unintelligible 00:27:09] B drives your no adrenaline response.
When you get stuck in an adrenaline response around negative stimulus and you truly imprint, like tattoos this feeling and that becomes your memory of it, is the feeling as opposed to the information. When you see that person again or in that room again, you actually remember that feeling and it creates this anxiety response. That same exact thing is what allows you to binge and come back with 10 pages of work that your colleagues saw as surface level.
The same thing in your hormones. We have a lot of women who we try to speed up their COMPs because it allows them to clear toxic estrogen. SAMe, Sulforaphane, they are supplements you can give that that speed up COMP and help clear this up. It ends up speeding up the neurochemicals too. All of a sudden this person who is used to being this, I write 20 pages at a time is all of a sudden thinking like this.
They end up having addictive tendencies because they can’t get enough pleasure out of what they’re doing and they don’t know how to deal with that or they become highly reward seeking or they become depressed because the world sucks and they can’t get pleasure for long enough. There is a trade off and this is where that map, so take a step back, who am I? What job is my brain designed for?
If I’m in that context, I’m going to thrive and feel incredible. If you take this and put me somewhere else, what my parents told me to do, or where I ended up for whatever reason, I’m going to crash and burn and I’m going to start using words like anxiety, depression, burnout, procrastination because I’m not aligned to what I was designed for. When we’re working with executives, couples, families, we see so many times, times over and over and over again that somebody has this innate superpower that they’re wired for and they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and they’re totally burdened.
Kashif: Then we teach them what they’re good at and then all of a sudden they thrive. That happens all the time. The same exact thing that drives a great benefit can be you’re kryptonite if you’re in the wrong context.
Ari: I think that’s beautifully explained and to some extent all of us are in the wrong context in terms of through looking at modern human life through an ancestral lens, we all have a context mismatch with what we are designed for. Obviously the modern diet, the modern lifestyle, the lack of hormetic stress, lack of sun exposure, lack of tribe and community and type, family bonds and shared meaning and traditions with one’s community, we have so many of these context mismatches that are creating a problem. Then you add further to, you can break things down in this very specific way that you’re describing where you’re talking about the individual specific proclivities and needs to be healthy and happy and high functioning, and the mismatches that those individuals might have even within that cultural context.
Kashif: For sure. We see it all the time. The big area where we’ve recently been doing that is with athletes, and it’s really cool because you think that these people are the top and they’re high performing, top one half of whatever, fraction of a percent to get to where they are but they’re really struggling mentally because mama wants tickets, friends want a new car and so they’ve trained their bodies but they haven’t trained their minds.
Nobody ever told them what their minds needed to be ready for, so there’s a huge context problems. All of a sudden they went from like the student to this celebrity to this provider and their problems are different. A completely different context. Now a big part of the coaching we do is teaching celebrities how to be a leader, how to deal with, how to understand that those people don’t experience the world the way you do and can’t understand what you’re thinking. They can’t understand your problems and they don’t see it, they don’t get it and that’s just one context. We can talk about hundreds of them, right?
What to look for in genetic testing
Ari: Very interesting. I want to talk about one thing, one other thing that comes to mind and then I want to delve into my specific reports, or I want you to delve into my reports. That is the idea, I know there are different companies with different genetic testing technologies and approaches to this analysis that exist out there and there’s some discussion of single allele analysis versus polygenic approaches. Do you have any thoughts on those two approach? Well, I guess first explain to people what those are. I might be using the wrong terminology there but explain what those are and how you perceive that landscape.
Kashif: Test, unfortunately are designed, most consumer genetic tests are not designed for the consumer. They’re designed for the buyer of the data, who’s the real customer because you’re going online buying some tests for a few hundred dollars and the data buyer’s willing to pay $5,000 for your sample, so who’s the product designed for, who’s the real customer in that equation?
Ari: What does that mean? Who’s buying the data?
Kashif: Usually pharma. If you look at for example 2019, 23 and Me did their big fundraising round and they raised $300 million from GlaxoSmithKline. Why does Glaxo care to give them $300 million, because they want access to every single genetic sample that comes through the door. Their intention is to build personalized medication, genetic therapies, which will solve rare genetic problems but they’re trying to put chronic disease into those same buckets. It’s not where they fit.
Ari: Not to get too deep down the rabbit hole, but of course if you understand the distinction between a desire to cure diseases versus a business just trying to make money, then it explains a lot of that behavior.
Kashif: Now you have this landscape of, once I test your DNA, your DNA never changes, so the business isn’t that great. One time customer, how do you make it great? You sell data and then it becomes a license and it keeps going. The tests are designed around exactly what you said, these single snip are what is called like a spelling mistake so each gene is thousands of letters long and there’s supposed to be a T in this exact location and sometimes it’s a C. Now that gene doesn’t do its job properly, that’s a snip. There’s also something called an insertion or deletion, which means a whole paragraph is missing or there’s an extra paragraph.
Imagine the difference between reading a book with a spelling mistake or half the page is not there, so these data dumps are only looking for the snips. They’re just looking for a mass snip list. You have to look at the insertion and deletions to be more precise. There’s also something called a copy number variation, which means you don’t even have the gene or you have a extra copy of it. Imagine you’re reading a book and the page is missing or two pages are missing. How much can you understand the instruction? By the way, you have this happening in your detox pathway, really important.
One of the most important jobs you could be doing, which is protecting your cells from toxicity you don’t even do when it comes to your gut. I’m just going to double check, I’m saying that properly, I remember seeing that. Now that’s where, first of all, what you even test for is so much more important if you’re testing for the buyer of the test, who wants a healthcare outcome versus the buyer of the data who just wants a bunch of snips but then looking at it like you said, polygenically, it’s not this gene does this, this gene does this, this gene does this, the body does not work like that.
If I tell you this gene metabolizes your progesterone and testosterone, now go do something about it, well what about do I make DHT, do I convert it into Estrogen? For example, we work with a lot of NHL players because we’re in Toronto, Mecca of NHL training and a lot of them come to us saying, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I got man boobs, gynecomastia.” Then when we roll it back, we find out that they’ve been given androgens or testosterone treatment and they have a really fast version of the gene that converts testosterone into estrogen, so whatever testosterone you give that guy, he’s just converting it into estrogen, which eventually leads to gynecomastia and beautiful hair and beautiful skin and mood issues.
Ari: Trade offs at least you have beautiful hair and beautiful skin.
Kashif: Exactly. That’s the trade off, right? Now all of a sudden the pathway or the full cascade polygenic is much more important than a single, “Hey, what does testosterone do?” Well, let’s look at this guy’s testosterone genes. No, you have to understand the full cascade because the body has other steps. It’s a a chain, but more of a baton pass, I should say. When you look at it that way, you can reverse engineer how the body works and start to make panels that actually inform what we already understand biologically as opposed to, what does these gene mean, and trying to interpret that and jam that into the way the body works, which is why chronic disease and aging and performance was never resolved with genetics, because that you can’t make those two things fit.
This is what functional genomics is in a nutshell. It’s like, start with the body first, start with biology first, only focus on systems and pathways, forget about the 25,000 genes. There’s literally only a hundred that matter when it comes to functional pathways, and then test for the right thing. If we look at you, for example, GSTM1 is a gene that is highly protective of the gut. You don’t have it. When it comes to [unintelligible 00:37:24] —
Ari: If I asked you not to embarrass me in front of my audience about my gut detoxification genes.
Kashif: Well, it’s a little late.
Ari’s DNA test results
Ari: All right, go ahead. Now that the cats out of the bag, you can carry on.
Kashif: This pathway instructs how your body utilizes glutathione around the gut and you don’t have the instruction, it’s missing from that cascade so when it comes to pesticides, chemicals, drying agents, the packaging that’s seeping into your foods, the machines that the organic cookies were processed on, still coming through, heavy metal, still cleaned with chemicals every once in a while, your gut allows that to directly enter your gut tract and into your bloodstream. You’re supposed to block some of that stuff, which leads to a couple things, gut dysbiosis, because there’s so much inflammation being caused by these insults, leaky brain, neural inflammation overall head to toe inflammatory insult to the cells because this stuff is meant to be filtered by the gut.
Your body’s not doing it and there’s so much more to filter than what we were designed for to begin with, right? Now the flip is also true, where when it comes to the traffic cops that are in the blood, GSTT1 is a gene. You’re doing really well there, you got both copies, mom and dad both gave them to you, so it’s getting in but you do a good job of sending it to the liver to metabolize. When it comes to first line of defense of the lungs, you’re somewhat 50% so mold, chemicals, airborne inhalation type toxins, that’s where you’re doing not so good but not horribly so you know you’re focused around, again, how do you prioritize?
You have to prioritize if it comes to not being inflamed and blocking toxins, it’s the gut for you, that’s your number one red flag. Now that the stuff got in, we know something’s seeping in, how well does your body deal with it? Methylation is multi-fold and a lot of genes do more than one thing. This is another thing we don’t understand about genes. Here’s the hard gene, here’s the satiety gene, here’s the obesity gene. Typically, they do many more things than just the one thing they’re studied for.
Methylation is your anti-inflammatory response, but it’s also the regulator of your gene expression. One of the very first things you said is, here’s what version of genes I have but now based on my environment, based on my behavior, based on how hard I worked out today, the genes might express a little bit less or more, they actually do their jobs a little bit beyond what the instruction is, or a little bit less depending on the epigenetic exposure. Methylation is what turns those dials that is communicating constantly between you and whatever the inputs are to adjust.
Your methylation, if we were to only look at the storied MTHFR gene, which everyone calls the methylation gene, you’re doing really, really well. The best version, right? That’s normally where the story ends. But methylation isn’t a single gene. It’s a full cascade. It’s again, a baton pass or six or seven steps of taking things like B9, B12, folic acid, and folinic acid, and converting them into what they need to be and allowing your body to methylate properly. Where you’re not doing well is everything that’s supportive, which means that the way you, for example, metabolize B12, you actually need it sublingually under your tongue.
The ability for your gut to absorb B12 is not that good. It’s minus 60%, right? Your ancestors probably didn’t eat as much beef as they did maybe sheep and lamb and things that are methylated and broken down right in the mouth, which is why grandma says chew your food, right? Where you’re also not doing well is the support. MTHFR, this core foundational methylation gene, which is what everyone talks about, SHMT1, is what supports it, and you’re not doing well there.
Whereas people are told to take folinic acid or methylated B complexes, you actually need folinic acid as it’s called, right? Not folic. Your body doesn’t do much with folic. You need folinic, which is not often used, but for you very specifically, that’s what you need to get your methylation on point. Then your body responding as appropriately as it should be. Just those two very specific things for you can completely change how your body manages inflammation, how your body is signaling from whatever the inputs are, to what genes should be expressing. That can become hyper-efficient as opposed to right now it might be a little bit off if you’re not already doing these things.
Ari: Got it. Keep going with maybe some other specifics of my reports and then after we talk about me, we’ll talk about maybe a couple more general topics and things that your reports talk about.
Kashif: Sure. Another thing that stands out is your vitamin D pathway. Vitamin D to us is really important. Of the 22,000 genes that make up your genome, 2000 require vitamin D to express properly, to function properly. This key micronutrient, which is actually a hormone as we know, is the catalyst that makes these genes do their job. What you do, and this is why of all the micronutrients, usually there’s a single gene that converts vitamin C in vitamin A into its form and gets your body using it.
Vitamin D has three genes because first, you need to get it from the sun. D2, convert it to D3, which you don’t do at all, right? Horribly. Your ability to actually metabolize and take vitamin D and put it into the active form, you don’t do well at all, minus 70%. Then you need to transport it. Once it’s in the blood, you actually need to chug it along and put it on this transport bus or whatever it is, and get it to the cell. You also don’t do that so well, minus 50%. Then once it gets to the cell–
Ari: This, by the way, explains why I really do much better when I live in a place where I have a lot of sun exposure and my skin can tolerate it. I have a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ancestry and some North African ancestry and my skin, I can tolerate hours, especially with a good diet, my skin can tolerate hours and hours of daily sun exposure, even here in Costa Rica in the very hot tropical sun. I definitely feel my best when I get a ton of sun exposure.
Kashif: You are designed for that. This again goes back to what you’re saying, the trade offs, right? In the wrong environment, this is a crutch, in the right environment. I live, my ancestors were Mediterranean and they were agricultural, they were overdosing on vitamin D. You’re actually designed to mitigate that overdose of too much vitamin D, which is potentially toxic. Now the last step is once it gets to the cell, you have to bind it and you also don’t do that well, minus 70%, minus 50%, minus 50%, which means exactly what you just said, that you need way more than the average person. But not only do you need a high dose, you need multiple doses during the day because you can’t transport it and bind it fast enough. If I give you 10,000 IU in the morning, you maybe only got to use 1500 of it.
You need to take like 3000, 4,000, maybe three times, which is why you feel so good in the sun. This could be the reason why go live in New York for a year and you’re going to get seasonal mood issues, and depression. Because again, vitamin D supports all of your biological functions, right? From mood to bone to like hormones. Everything gets affected and all of a sudden if you don’t have enough, system failure, everything starts to fall apart. This for you is a key area of focus where everything, all the ships rise, right? The tides, the vitamin D tide. Big one.
Ari: Tell me more about the various ways my genetics are screwed up and killing me.
Kashif: Let me find something else here. I’m going to go back to another area. I’m going to look at your hormones. This is an area where most genetic tests don’t report on hormones because if you don’t look at the cascade, there’s really not much to say. Each gene on its own is not actionable. You do a very good job of converting progesterone into testosterone.
There’s a lot of free-flowing testosterone. You do not convert it into estrogen, which depending on what your goals are, because potentially good, you do make a lot of DHT, which is the manly man version of testosterone. You clear it quite well. I’m going to tell you what this all means in a second. You are really efficient in binding hydrogen. You’re this prototype of you make everything you need to make, you do not convert it into estrogen, but you get rid of it a little too fast. You have this like use it or lose it body.
If you decide to push yourself and go to the gym, you will look like Captain America. You won’t look like the rock, you also won’t look like Spider-Man. You’re going to have that prototypical, the nice juicy pecks, nice muscles. Not massive because there’s no estrogen. Estrogen will–
Ari: Have you been checking out my Facebook profile? Tell the truth. Talking about my nice juicy pecks. Geez, have you been looking at more than my DNA report?
Kashif: I was going to ask you where you get your waxing done because I’ve been having issues there. Your hormones speak to that, your hormones speak. Most people misunderstand that the mass, the size actually comes from estrogen. The ability to deadlift 400 pounds, you’re not going to get there, but you will be able to very effectively get to the gym, put on muscle, get lean and fit, see all that strided, ripped fiber but when you stop, it’s going to go away.
Ari: I have a couple of things I want to share on this. It’s very true, first of all, what you just explained to my wife is totally different. My wife is a genetic freak when it comes to physique, she barely works out. She does like yoga and she surfs with me but as far as consistency of weight training or any other type of intense exercise, there’s no consistency. She’s like got amazing six-pack abs all the time. She’s got like muscular dealts and arm muscles. Girls come up to her all the time, they’re like, “Oh my God, how do I get your physique? You must have an incredible workout routine.” I just start dying of laughter every time it happens. I’m like, “She barely works out,” it’s all just genetic gifts.
Then me, I’m like constantly working out and doing a ton of exercise. If I stop for two weeks, it’s exactly what you said, all of it goes away very fast. I have to work so hard in order to have an impressive physique. I’m very much envious of my wife in that regard. One other quick thing that’s interesting to note. There’s a super famous bodybuilder, widely regarded as one of the, maybe the best or next to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the best bodybuilder of all time. That’s Ronnie Coleman. When I was young when I was a teenager and I was into bodybuilding, my brother and I used to watch these pro bodybuilders work out.
There was one video where Ronnie Coleman was talking about how he like, doesn’t even work out for half the year, five or six months of the year, he doesn’t even work out. This is an eight-time Mr. Olympia champion, widely regarded as the best bodybuilder of all time. He’s like, “Half the year I don’t even work out.” He goes, “I mean, the way I think about it, it’s basically like a car sitting in a garage.” Just because you got the car sitting in the garage not being used, it doesn’t mean it’s going to deteriorate.
My brother and I looked at each other and we’re like, “This guy’s a genetic freak because if I go on vacation for like a month and I stop weight training, I lose 20 pounds of muscle and this guy’s maintaining this mountain of muscle, just muscles on top of muscles for like six months without even working out.” Speak to your point of genetic differences [crosstalk].
Kashif: This goes back to the trade-off. What you’re talking about, this is a unique profile. Some people are androgen dominant, like you, some people are estrogen dominant and some people are codominant. They have both and they have very slow clearance, but what’s the trade-off? Androgen dominance is probably the single greatest marker for male longevity. When you see the slender, more wirey frame, thinner, easier to not have fat, what you have that androgen speaks to longevity. It speaks to nine years old riding a bicycle. The co-dominance, especially when you don’t clear the hormones, and remember as you age, as you know very well, your mitochondria deplete, your cells are less resilient, whatever toxicity there is, including hormone toxicity from DHT, which makes you ripped, if you’re not clearing it, that’s what allows you- [crosstalk].
Ari: Causes a receding hairline, though.
Kashif: Exactly. You are efficiently clearing it, which means you’re probably not going to have prostate issues, probably not going to cause you inflammation. There’s enough to kill your follicles, but you still have hair on your head. When people reach a certain age, when they have that codominance and lack of clearance, okay, great, just like your wife, don’t do a thing, eat cheesecake for dinner and I can see bills. But once you reach that tipping point of my mitochondria depleting, I’m now aging, the aging sets in rapidly. The decline is rapid because you have this toxic load that you never dealt with.
You have the estrogens to lead to estrogen toxicity in women, the androgens to lead to androgen toxicity in men, and then all of a sudden, you’re not dealing with that because your whole life you thought, “I’m amazing and I’m healthy.” People judge themselves on what they look like outwardly. They don’t measure enough what’s going on in the inside to understand what’s really going on. Anyways, trade-off. Again, trade-off is put on muscle and it stays. I’ve built something, as opposed to you need an eye, by the way, the same thing need to maintain something.
For us longevity, as long as we do a little bit of physical and maintain whatever we’re doing, easy to stay youthful as we age, those people start to deteriorate rapidly, but there’s things they can do if they know early enough, they start to turn the right dials and focus on their priorities, like we said earlier. Everyone has their plus and minus to these different profiles.
Ari: Very interesting. Are there any other notable areas of my genetics that you can embarrass me about?
Kashif: [chuckles] One place where you’re actually doing really, really well is cardiovascular. One area you’re doing really well, one area you’re not doing so well. Your ability to utilize nitric oxide is almost the worst possible, which either way, by the way, also plays into that maintenance. You need to stay androgenized, you need to keep pushing your muscles in your body, otherwise, you lose it. Nitric oxide for you is a problem. You should probably be supplementing.
There’s a great product. In fact, it’s sitting right here, and this is not a purposeful plug. It has nothing to do with me. I just found it works really well. Pneuma nitric oxide. I’ll send it to you after. It works incredible. The other end of it is the arteries. Most cardiovascular disease doesn’t happen in the heart. It’s usually the arteries. They get calcified, plaque buildup, cholesterolemia, all this stuff goes on. They become more stiff, more rigid. You have almost the best quality endothelium, which is extremely rare. You’re like top 5%, 7% of the population.
Ari: I knew it. I’ve also been told that I have amazing endothelial since I was a young boy.
Kashif: [laughs] Whoever you’ve been talking to has some incredible insights.
Ari: They’re very intuitive.
Kashif: Essentially, this inner lining of your blood vessel is like stainless steel.
Kashif: It’s very hard to get inflammation, which is the root cause of cardiovascular disease. When you get inflammation in your endothelium, which is so easy to get because there are so many toxins, then your body will actually use cholesterol exactly as Vaseline or it’s a hormone to reduce the inflammation. That’s why the cholesterol gets sent there. As it meets the toxicity, it oxidizes and hardens. That’s when you get that buildup and that’s when you get labeled with a disease and take Lipitor, the number one prescribed drug, not because everyone has cholesterol problems, because everyone has a toxic burden they can’t cope with.
The majority of people don’t have good-quality endothelium because they didn’t need it. It wasn’t a problem. You are highly resilient. As long as you’re dealing with your nitric oxide dosing well, it’s highly, highly unlikely for you to ever have a cardiovascular problem. You’re doing really, really well there.
Ari: Okay, but how do I go from stainless steel in my endothelium to adamantium, like Wolverine in X-men?
Kashif: [chuckles] There is something you could do. For nitric oxide is one. There’s a product, again, nothing to do with us, third party. It’s called Artisol. It’s actually a supplement, but it’s clinically studied in the same way a drug is to actually build your endothelium and to make it super. You would literally smoke until you’re 100 and say, “Here’s my secret to how do I live to 100.”
Ari: In all seriousness, all those things you just mentioned would obviously be more important for somebody with weak endothelium.
Kashif: t’s mandatory. There’s six locations on the 9p21 gene where we’re looking for this variant. It’s where these As, they’re supposed to be As, become Gs. We call it how many Gs? You have one, which is really, really good. The majority of people we talked to have between four to six. Majority of people are set up for cardiovascular disease, which is why it’s the number one killer in the world today. 50% of Americans are expected to get it. For most people, this is a need, it’s not how do I get better? No, you actually need this just to maintain and not get sick.
Ari: Let’s go over maybe, I don’t know, what do you think, two, three, fours, more specifics of my genetics? We’re doing this for everybody listening. Obviously, this is not just for my own personal benefit. I’ve already looked in depth at my reports. It’s great actually to have Kashif giving me his insight in addition to what’s in the reports there, and taking me through all these systematically and explaining it step by step. It’s wonderful.
For everybody listening, the point of this is not to just talk about my genes, obviously, it’s to show you an example of the kinds of insights that you can glean from doing this kind of genetic analysis, especially with Kashi’s company, the DNA company. You’re getting a guided tour of the landscape of what these genetic reports can tell you as far as your own genetic risks for particular things.
Kashif: I think what you’re describing, the key is interpretation because anyone can go test their DNA, but how do you apply it to the problem you’re trying to solve? What we’re saying is with what we’ve curated, we think you name any of the conventional problems that we’re dealing with today, we can inform a direction on that. What do you actually do about it, because these are the same functional genes that affect the majority of pathways.
Now, going to your diet nutrition, a couple of things stand out. First of all, you do uniquely well with starches. Your ability to convert starch into glucose and use it as fuel, most people aren’t doing well, you’re doing extremely well to the point where, “Go eat carbs,” we probably don’t feel as well.
I remember there’s a female athlete we were dealing with, that just didn’t feel right and couldn’t retain her muscle mass if she wasn’t eating enough starch and carbs, which is counterintuitive to current health, but she needed it. Your insulin response is also excellent, which speaks to high-carb diet. You’re designed for a lot of starches and carbs. It doesn’t mean you can sugar eat a bunch of sugar, but it’s not as big of a problem for you as it is for the average person. You’re just doing really, really well there.
Ari: Plus a lot of physical activity where I’m depleting glycogen stores in my body constantly.
Kashif: Where you’re not doing well, is saturated fats. You’re the opposite of what we hear every day. If you were to go on a keto diet, you might feel great in the first few weeks because keto’ll start firing, brain is on fire, you’re losing fat. Five, six weeks into it, sluggish, brain fog, low energy, fatigue, wouldn’t feel good at all because your body struggles using fat as fuel. You have this unique profile, which is completely counterintuitive to everything you’re hearing on every podcast and YouTube show, you’re the opposite.
Ari: Exactly. That obviously matches up with my own personal experience. Again, the layer of doing a lot of exercise also I feel the difference between whether I’ve got carbs in my system or not. Obviously, we have a large body of evidence showing that, in general, moderate to high-intensity activity, you perform better when you’ve got carbs in your diet.
Kashif: Yes, for sure. Now, where we said you can ask a question, somebody was asking about Alzheimer’s and dementia, for example. We might go to look at diet nutrition to understand how that informs Alzheimer’s and dementia. Because if you’re not doing well with your insulin response and your starch response, that could be the trigger that leads to the neural inflammation, that leads to plaque buildup, or whatever. We might look at how you deal with cholesterol transport, the thing that you’re doing really well.
If they’re not doing that so well, the APOE gene as it’s known, that means to accelerate an amyloid plaque buildup because you don’t transport it well. It stays there, it sits there. We might look at your gut detox. If that’s a source of inflammatory insults, coming into your body, which means dysbiosis to the gut, that could mean eventual leaky gut, which means toxic substrates that your blood-brain barrier, were not designed to protect you from. They were designed to protect you from broken down metabolites that have gone through your gut track. Now all of a sudden, leaky brain, cognitive decline, dementia.
It’s not a Alzheimer’s gene. It’s any one of these things can cause dementia. We have to understand functionally what the body’s doing wrong. If I go to your brain, one thing that stands out BDNF brain-derived neurotropic factor. There’s a phenomenon called epistasis, which is when one gene affects another gene. BDNF is neuroplasticity in a nutshell. Your brain’s ability to develop neural pathways and learn things and develop new highways for information to flow. Your BDF gene says that you do that really, really well, and there’s no good or bad here. Really well doesn’t mean better than not well, or just different outcomes.
Ari: There’s no good or bad, but there’s awesome. I’m in the awesome.
Kashif: Exactly. Just pick your pick.
Ari: Large and fluffy. How did you describe them? Juicy. I have large and juicy BDNF in my brain.
Kashif: Now, you have this gene called TPH, which is also the optimal version, which epi statically is turning the BDNF off, but it doesn’t turn all of it off. If you have bad BDNF, as we call it, again, it’s not bad, it’s different, it’s just bad meaning the gene isn’t efficient. What is happening? You still are efficient at the neuroplasticity part, but you aren’t good with the mood part. The mood traits that come from having poor BDNF, you probably still experience.
What are those things? When you have this tunnel vision when it comes to your neurology, bad BDNF means you do a really, really good job of developing very few pathways. A subject matter expert, don’t like to wear multiple hats, but how it affects your mood is everything has a lot of meaning. Call it drama queen response, in a nutshell.
Ari: Whoa, it took a turn for the worst here real fast. I’m definitely going to edit this out of the podcast.
Kashif: Now people that are close to you, again, this can be a very highly functional trait if it’s used well, if you give things a lot of meaning, if you’re dealing with a client, customer, patient, whatever, you’re able to not just surface level, say yes or no, but really dive deep because it means a lot to you. It’s important. It leads to what we call shell shock, hamster wheel spinning, ruminating. I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t sleep at night because I can’t stop thinking about it. Whatever it is. I shouldn’t have said this, I should have showed up five minutes earlier, actually.
Because of that deep meaning, it can lead to a stress response, a cortisol response. It can lead to friction in relationships, but it can also lead to this incredible superpower in your work, where you dive deep and become that subject matter expert. When you write a book, it’s mind-blowing. When I’ve spoken to you, the stuff that flows out of your mouth is like, where does he keep all this stuff? That’s what allows you to do that, as opposed to being that high-level jack of all traits, which is also useful in a different context, if you want to be an entrepreneur that runs seven different businesses.
That’s how it affects mood, but because you have the good BDNF, it doesn’t affect neuroplasticity. We would say things like concussion, et cetera, are probably not that big of a problem for you as they would be for somebody else.
Your serotonin is dysregulation, which means that your brain– we speak of serotonin as a mood regulator. How do I deal with anxiety, depression? Am I responding as appropriate for whatever is going on? Am I over or under responding or am I right on? It’s harder for you to stay in that middle. The mechanism of that is that your brain is challenged and prioritizing stimulus, whatever’s going on, which means irritable distractable. When you’re younger, people might have said ADHD because you’re jumping. It’s not that you can’t pay attention, it’s you’re paying too much attention to everything that doesn’t need attention. Stop making that noise with your mouth, don’t interrupt me, I’m busy. We could have done this tomorrow. Irritability around stimulus.
It also leads to this hyper-awareness of detail because you are so stimulated by things you don’t need to be, so when you’re reading an agreement or a book or speaking to someone, the detail, the reading between the lines and understanding it, other people won’t get it at that level. This can lead to a couple things. This deep superpower of things have a lot of meaning. I’m this deep subject matter expert, and I see every little detail and nuance as I’m diving into this thing. The wow factor outcome of that, versus I’m trying to work with a team and we said last week, this, this, this and they came back and said, “Here you go.” You’re like, “What about this and what about this and what about this and what about this?” They’re like, “We did it.” You’re like, “No, you didn’t do this. On the top of page three it said that.” Because the level of detail that your brain is thinking at is 130% of the people around you.
All of a sudden there’s this constant, we call it like a high-functioning anxiety. This drive to like, I just need more, it’s never enough. Not in terms of addiction, but more what you expect, your expectations.
Ari: I’m sure there will be some people who work with me and my relationship partners and ex-girlfriends and current wife, that can attest to some of what you’re describing here.
Kashif: This is a therapy session for everybody around you.
They’re not crazy. Now what you’re doing really well, is your ability to deal with trauma and negative stimulus. There’s the shell shock that I can’t stop thinking about it and it means a lot, but there’s no feeling attached to it. It’s not trauma. Car accident fight, you remember what happened, but you may not remember what it felt like. It’s not holding the grudge, per se, let’s just say that. By letting go, not holding the grudge. Yes, I get it. I feel it. This means a lot, but I don’t care. Let’s just get it done. You’re not bothering me, versus pain trauma, like, “I can’t believe this is happening again. You don’t care about me.” That type of emotional response is not likely to happen from you.
Kashif: Your dopamine response is the maximum possible. The density of your dopamine receptors, ultra-dense, which means it’s very easy for you to experience pleasure, and the intensity level is very high. That speaks to again, trade-off, which is some people are going to call you flaky and not interested because it’s so easy for you to experience pleasure, that you don’t really need to pursue it. It’s like, tell me about this TV show. I don’t really care. Let’s go work on this investment. I am not interested. I’m doing what I’m doing.
The thing that you do enjoy and that you found that pleasure from, it’s like binge dive deep. Can’t get over it, stuck because the intensity level is so high and your clearance is also a little slow, so you get stuck on that thing, which leads to great outcomes. Imagine having this deep meaning to your work and finding the thing that you actually have passion for and getting stuck in a binge modality and seeing every little detail of nuance as you’re going along that way, what that could lead to. Also, take all that and put it in a different context. It would fry your brain. This is why so many people are burdened with anxiety, depression, addiction, and burnout and all these other things because you are wired for very unique work that doesn’t fit in the standard. Go out there in the workforce and do your thing.
The one last thing I’ll say is because your dopamine levels are so high and because you’re so used to things being good, that when the good is taken away, acute anxiety response. It’s not a chronic every day, it’s not a trauma, it’s more like you just remove what I’m used to and I’m not used to being down here. I don’t know how to deal with this down here. I might not get out of bed today. Acute response, short-term periodic. It’s not so much about adding the bad, it’s more about taking the good away.
COVID lockdown, can’t see anybody, what am I going to do? Acute anxiety response. Can’t think for two days. That type of thing. Now understanding this map, I know we can spend two hours just talking about your brain, just with these five or six genes. Now imagine, here’s how I perceive the world, here’s how people perceive me. Now all of a sudden, the alignment and the removal of friction and finding your path. This is what we do every day with all these people that we work with in coaching, et cetera, and they end up thriving. We are truly designed to do certain things and we’re all doing the same thing for the most part, and that’s why most of us aren’t doing well. Right?
How to use your DNA analysis to improve your health
Ari: Yes. So well explained, Kashif. Really, really great stuff. If you were in my shoes and you had my genetic trade-offs, sets of variance that I have and everything you just outlined there, what would be maybe your top two or three things that you’d want to prioritize, as far as practical strategies to address what’s going on there?
Kashif: I would say sauna is a big thing for you, like minimum three times a week because it promotes BDNF levels and neuroplasticity, along with low-intensity exercise like yoga, stretching. By the way, stretching activates the androgen receptor, so that use it or lose it problem you have, if you stretch regularly, it’s easier to maintain the muscle, by the way. The bigger the muscle that you’re stretching, the better it is for you. Low-intensity yoga-type stuff and sauna, really good for BDNF levels.
Ari: The stretching is also related to the BDNF?
Kashif: The low-intensity movement, like yoga, Pilates-type stuff, walking. Just saying that you end up stretching in those types of things.
Ari: You said low-intensity exercise?
Kashif: Low-intensity exercise, yes.
Ari: You mean steady state cardio endurance exercise?
Kashif: I mean more like picture yoga. When I say intensity, I mean not running out of breath and moving your body. This has nothing to do with your weight training, you still need to do that. This is more in the evening work is done, signaling to the body some movement and that evening movement because our ancestors used to walk around. They’d eat, walk around, they’d play with their kids. There was nothing to do other than those types of things. Your brain is waiting for that physical low-intensity movement to signal. First of all, this is going to help you sleep also. It’s going to signal BDNF production, it’s going to push your clock along because if you have bad BDNF, your internal circadian rhythm also doesn’t work that well.
It’s one of those genes that triggers circadian rhythm. This will help you fall asleep. This will help you stop thinking about what happened during the day and park that stuff.
Ari: Low-intensity exercise, stretching in the evening is going to boost BDNF levels at that time?
Kashif: Yes, and sauna in the evening. Going back to it, starting your day with sauna and vitamin D, that will actually support the BDNF and it will support that clock.
Ari: Fortunately, most mornings I start my day by surfing for a couple of hours in the sun.
Kashif: That’s working. The other thing that stands out, your serotonin can disrupt the sleep cycle. Not so much and I can’t fall asleep, but I can’t stay asleep. Because just like we know mela and just you’re asking about what are a few things you can do, we didn’t get into this, but I’m assuming that the second half of your sleep probably isn’t as good as the first half.
Why I’m assuming that because melatonin hook you to sleep, we know that. Serotonin wakes you up. How does it wake you up? Sunlight triggers serotonin binding, let’s get out of bed, I’m actually supposed to be awake now. We know your serotonin is dysregulated. We know you’re constantly responding to every stimulus. In our current reality, which it’s too hot, too cold, weird noise, hubby pulled on the blanket, all this stuff going on, your brain doesn’t know time to get up. Oh no, go back to sleep. Time to get up? Oh no, go back to sleep.
You need to eliminate stimulus in your sleep, which means heavy weighted blanket. Your skin head to toe, is that large sensorial organ that’s constantly signaling what’s happening at night because like we said an hour ago, your body still thinks that you’re trying to avoid being eaten by wolves in a cave. We haven’t evolved out of that yet, so your skin is signaling, is there something bothersome? Did the temperature change? Did something change? That weighted blanket gives you that cocoon, the feeling of safety. Now that you have a weighted blanket, you’re going to overheat, so you need a cooling pad to maintain your body temperature.
It’s that combination creates that cocoon and then zero light leakage, zero stimulus. You probably want a separate blanket.
Ari: Super, super important. I have to have a cold, super dark room with no light leakage. Makes a huge difference.
Kashif: That literal sleep hygiene routine for you, very, very important because this is where you make your hormones and make your neurochemicals and clear your toxins and glymphatic drainage and lymphatic drainage and all that needs to happen, but it won’t if you’re not sleeping. That’s another thing that stands out from your brain report that points to sleep.
Ari: Is there anything else you do for serotonin?
Kashif: The gene is 5-HTTLPR. We know that 5-HTP, the supplement, is a serotonin modulator. If you feel like it’s a mood thing during the day, if you want to be less irritable, let’s call it, you can take 5-HTP, also right before sleeping. It can support it. The other thing I would say is taking GABA, ashwagandha-type items that are keeping you in a deeper wave state that allows you to stay in deeper sleep. That’s another big one. Those I’d say are the big ones for serotonin.
Then, I should say the number one thing is your gut. Your serotonin is made in your gut in that second half of sleep. That’s when you actually make it. If your gut is not healthy, you’re not making your serotonin properly, which then becomes a vicious cycle. For you, we know that your gut detox is not the best.
Paying attention to enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics what are you putting into your stomach to begin with? Ultra, ultra clean including packaging and processing, all that stuff. Focusing on the gut is a big thing that impacts serotonin.
Kashif: One more thing I can point out is if you find that this periodic dopamine, this high dopamine intensity is a problem for you, it’s likely not because you’re in a groove and you’re doing the work that you like doing, but if you say you need to go on vacation or there’s a problem and there’s some anxiety-inducing legal letter that you’re going to have to deal with for the next few weeks, cold is a great dopamine modulator, cold therapy. Whether it’s plunging or skiing.
Ari: I’ve figured that out just in the last few months, that cold has a really nice effect on me.
Kashif: Whether you have really high dopamine or really low dopamine, cold exposure, short bursts of cold exposure, really modulate your dopamine levels, get you to where you need to be. All of a sudden, when it comes to reward and risk and all these things, you’ll be, call it, appropriate. You’re not overdoing it, you’re not underdoing it, you’re in more of this zen state.
Kashif: That’s another one.
Ari: I have to say I’ve been really surprised at how spot-on your analysis has been on so many levels here. I didn’t think that you would be able to do that level of sophisticated analysis and I would’ve expected more of what you said to not be accurate. Almost everything you said, I would say is pretty accurate, except all the negative stuff. None of the negative stuff was true. All of that was nonsense.
Kashif: This has been the challenge has been interpretation. Why are we able to do this? Genetics and the genetic researchers that built the genetics industry never talked to patients. They studied DNA in a petri dish. All the products and reports were designed for PhDs to interpret. That academic block prevented us from doing this kind of stuff, which is we realized we need to talk to people, clinically.
We spend three years with 7,000 people, one by one, by one, by one, by one and now I know, first of all, what does the gene actually doing in terms of outcome? Forget about the science, people don’t care. Here’s what’s wrong and how do I fix it? That’s all I need to know. How do I use a gene to inform that? Now, what is the thing that I can recommend? It’s one thing to know what’s wrong, but how do I fix it? It’s by studying both the sick and the healthy.
We studied the people with the 80% and the 20% in both buckets. We learn what people are doing right and what people are doing wrong. A lot of this stuff isn’t that intuitive. We just talked about anxiety in five different ways. It’s not just one thing, it’s getting down to the biology, removing these labels, these things don’t exist, chronic disease doesn’t exist. Then fixing the innate biology, so that you thrive and all things go away. Everything starts working properly.
Ari: Beautiful. Kashif, this is really, I have to say this again, I’m super impressed with this analysis. You were just amazingly accurate, like 90% I would say of what you said here. Maybe the 10% is just my own unwillingness to acknowledge that.
Kashif: I believe that usually leads to people being a little bit stubborn.
Ari: There you go. That’s the explanation. Forgetting about me for a minute, tell people how they can go about getting this analysis from your company and any other details, maybe any special offer you want to link people to. We can put a link for the podcast episode for this page we’ll have at theenergyblueprint.com/dnaco, all one word D-N-A-C-O, and let people know what they can get and where they should go to get it.
Kashif: The testing, I should point out, don’t go to the website and pay retail because we did create a discount for anyone listening. We honor and respect your time and thank you for listening and so we wanted to do that.
Ari: Thank you for doing that.
Kashif: We wanted to do that for the audience thednacompany.com/theenergyblueprint. Just type in thednacompany.com/theenergyblueprint and you’ll have a discount, but keep in mind, you’ll see the discount at checkout. When you go see the product live, it won’t show you a discount. Once you get to the checkout, they’ll show it to you. From there, the way the reports are designed, everything we talked about here today is in the reports. Some of the interpretation, there’s some clinical stuff that we’re not allowed to deliver. It’s just regulatory-wise. We know more than what’s in the reports.
If you’re optimizing and wanting to be the best version of yourself, go through it, and you’ll be there. If there’s something like my mom had breast cancer, I don’t want it, I can’t lose these last 10 pounds, there’s some action needed. We do have practitioners that have been trained on functional genomics, that can get in and coach you and work with you and dive deeper into the data and then say things that we’re not allowed to say direct to consumer because it’s clinical in nature. If you feel you need that, that’s available.
For the most part, if you want to learn about yourself, understand, again, the core of it, what job does my body do well? What job does my body not do well? Prioritize, supplement properly, eat properly, train properly for that thing. It’s in the reports. It’s all there. Just use that code. It’s at checkout, you’ll see the discount and anything else you need, we’re here. Our team is here to support.
Ari: I have to say, just on a final note, as you know from this conversation and the last, the first conversation we had, you can sense my bias, my skepticism, maybe against, I would it goes so far as to say against the importance of testing for genetic variants because in the grand scheme of things, it’s much more about lifestyle and nutrition and optimizing our micro-environments.
Having said that, I would say you’ve done a pretty damn good job of convincing even me, a hardcore skeptic of the importance of all of this stuff, that there’s quite a lot of value here, and a very good reason to do that.
Obviously, everybody listening, you can see all the layers of insights that was gleaned from my genetic test and brilliantly explained by Kashif. I’m super grateful for this and it’s been very insightful for me personally. I would highly, highly, highly recommend everybody listening to this to go do the same.
Kashif, thank you so much, thank you for offering a discount to my audience. Thank you so much for your brilliance and your amazing knowledge of this landscape and ability to teach and communicate about it.
Kashif: It’s a pleasure. It was great being here with you.
Ari: Tell people one final time, what’s the website they can go to? It’s the thednacompany.com/theenergyblueprint.
Kashif: Right, exactly. Go there and you’ll see a discoount.
(00:00) – Intro
(01:00) Guest intro
(01:10) The fundamental difference between genetics and functional genetics
(03:21) What the BRCA gene really tells you about your risk of breast cancer
(08:00) The obesity gene, obesity, and lifestyle
(13:48) – Nutrition and lifestyle – the true cause of chronic disease
(18:10) – How to use your gene/DNA assessment to level up your health
(21:00) – Genetic trade-offs
(30:30) – What to look for in genetic testing
(36:00) – Ari’s DNA test results
(1:09:39) How to use your DNA analysis to improve your health