We’d hazard a guess the only thing you know less about than your DNA is the scope of genetic tests available in South Africa. Understanding your DNA means better healthcare, minimising risk and knowing what the future holds. And it’s more affordable and less invasive than you think. Here’s what’s available in SA:

As important as it is, most South Africans don’t know the different genetic tests available in SA and their benefits

Body basics

For most of people, working out the exercise and diet best suited to them is a guessing game. A frustrating guessing game. There are genetic tests available to test for susceptibility to obesity, binge eating as well as carbohydrate and fat absorption. Couple this with insight into how you should be exercising and it’s a whole new approach to health.

From how you handle exercise to what you need in your diet, try the full suite of nutrigenomic tests from DNAlysis biotechnology. These include DNA Diet, to map out a gene-based, personalised eating plan; DNA Health to understand responsiveness, sensitivity and absorption of vitamins, minerals and nutrients; DNA Oestrogen to discover breast and ovarian cancer risk as well as oestrogen disorders; and DNA Sport to ensure you’re getting maximum benefit from your training.

Keeping it in the family

There’s a need for paternity and infidelity tests, and they’re offered in South Africa. Another consideration is biological relativity, for those wishing to eliminate any risk of continuing a relationship with someone to whom they might be related (an unfortunate reality, but a reality nonetheless). Family tests extend to ancestry mapping. For biological relativity, ancestry and paternity, including prenatal paternity tests, try Home DNA Direct.

One on the way

The decision to start a family isn’t one taken lightly. Some potential parents want to know everything– others opt for the element of surprise. For those who want to be in the know, there’s gender testing (although explicitly not intended for gender selection).

Couples considering IVF can have pre-implantation tests to screen for genetic abnormalities and heritable genetic conditions. Imminent mothers looking for certainty can also have prenatal paternity tests. For baby boomers, consider Genesis Genetics.

Getting to grips with risk

With the rise of personalised healthcare and increased knowledge about our bodies, most subscribe to the ‘more is more’ approach when it comes to disease susceptibility. There’s a range of tests available where genetic predisposition is concerned.

These range from immune to cardiovascular conditions, as well as some cancers and ocular (eye) disorders. Explore Easy DNA South Africa for disease and health-related genetic testing or DNA Oestrogen from DNAlysis Biotechnology for breast and ovarian cancer insights.

Medicine for me

One of the most crucial tests to consider– at any age or life stage– is pharmacogenomics testing. This identifies genetic markers that affect metabolism of medicine. This in-turn allows you to predict whether the drugs you’re taking will actually work, what side effects you’ll experience, and how to mitigate these by taking the correct dose just for you. With this knowledge, healthcare practitioners can tailor prescriptions for individuals, as opposed to a trial and error approach.

This gene-based approach to medicine is crucial for those taking chronic blood thinners, like Warfarin, as the margin for error in dosing from one individual can be substantial. Make it a priority if you’re having surgery too– most people metabolise painkillers differently and it’s vital to know how your body responds to the drugs you might be given pre- or post-operatively.

The best part? You can do it from home, with a cheek swab. Your healthcare practitioner (whomever you choose) receives a comprehensive report from the test, so you can work together to make sure you’re taking the right drug, at the right dose. To understand how your body metabolises medication for personalised treatment: mygeneRx

Genetics are the roadmap for how your body operates, so it’s worth investigating how DNA testing can benefit you and your family. Genetic testing isn’t an expensive, exotic or crime scene science. It’s all about empowering yourself and protecting your loved ones– and it’s available in South Africa.