When we last left each other – after staring longingly into each others eyes, promising sweet nothings upon return to each others’ embrace – I left you a laundry list of the items that needed to be addressed in order to fully sink my teeth into the meaty causation of a seemingly healthy dude’s near besplosion.
The point of the laundry list was not so much to say that I will need to address everything on it, one by one, in order to not die an early and less-than-gnarly death (I prefer my death be super gnar-gnar if it comes before the age of 65). The point of the list was to creative an exhaustive resource for myself, one which I might be able to refer to when installing the new software of my future awesomeness. If I want to be the healthiest and bad-assiest version of myself, I need a road map. As alluded to with the phrase “if you’re not assessing, you’re just guessing”, the road map requires three specific things for each category:
First, there needs to be some version of objectifying where things stand right now, and what it means. If you give me a map to Las Vegas but I don’t know where I stand, I’m still gonna get lost.
Second, there needs to be a destination. This doesn’t imply that I will “arrive” at any of them, per se, but there will be a general direction, action or orientation that I assume I should take on for the betterment of myself and the world around me.
Third, there needs to be instructions (or steps, or directions, or a progression, or a plan) of some sort. Even if I know I suck at X and I love the idea of becoming great at X, “ideas are shit” are Gary V likes to say…we need action steps.
So, since this is Part 1, Step One. Let’s start with the assessment.
What’s gross, should reside inside your body, and, in unfortunate circumstances, runs in your jeans?
Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, that’s what (maybe genes, not jeans, though). We call these “SNPs” for short. If we have an in-person conversation about this, like all the cool cats do, we pronounce it “snip”, like the sound of scissors on young foreskin…and about as equally unfortunate.
*ahem* moving on…
A SNP is a genetic hiccup of sorts. You see, your body behaves, on the smallest of cellular levels, in accordance with the genetic rulebook as depicted by your genome, the mix of what mommy and daddy gave you (*must resist more horrid childhood jokes…*). The rulebook is called DNA, and your entire body checks the rulebook to decide how to behave. As you may remember, DNA is formed of a double helix, each side of the helix a string of, you guessed it, nucleotides that are bonded at the hip to one on the other side of the helix. Each nucleotide is either an A, C, G, or T. So, each of the bazillion of these pairs is made up of two single nucleotides. Maybe it’s a GG, or a GA, or a CT. Each gene and combination of different genes writes the rules for the machinery of our cellular and metabolic lives.
So, a SNP is what we call it when one of these nucleotides is, well, messed up. Maybe there’s a GT where there should have been a TT, or a TT where there should have been an AA. There’s really no such thing as an optimal human being on the genetic level, although theoretically it could be engineered. Each of us is genetically messed up in our own ways. But what we do not want is a laundry list of SNPs in places that have a big impact on health status, nor ones that occur at a metabolic bottle-neck without redundant pathways built in to help us out.
So, how does one assess, not guess, as far as their genetics go? how do we now where our SNPs reside and what they might means? How will I know if my hips are just as British/Irish as they seem!? You’ve probably heard of it. It’s called 23andMe. and next time I write for zee blaug, I will be explaining the full extent and ramifications of my raw genetic data.
Next time… you’ll also find out what genetics and MTHFR’s have to do with each other. Next one is loooong, so stay tuned, it’ll be a few days.