Since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, the technology available to sequence DNA has rapidly progressed.
Personal gene testing services such as 23andme that test for specific mutations have sparked debate about whether it is really worth knowing what your genes hold in store for your future health.
While genetic testing has increasingly become more popular, there are alternative ways to protect yourself from genetic conditions.
Here are three ways to better understand your overall health:
Know Your Family History
Your family health history can help identify whether you have higher risk for some diseases. It can help your doctor recommend actions to reduce your personal risk of disease, identify early warning signs of disease, and offer better treatment methods for you. For an interactive tool to help you map your family history visit the Department of Health and Human Service website: My Family Health Portrait.
Regular physical exams and health screening tests can be a part of preventive health care. The National Institutes of Health provides checklists
based on your age and gender to help you find which screening tests may be appropriate for you. Talk to your doctor about which screening tests you need and how often to have them done. Screening tests may help doctors with early detection of diseases, and may help identify proper treatment.
If you plan on having children, talk to your doctor about preconception screening for you and your partner. Preconception screening includes using a physical exam, family medical history, and lab tests to understand if your child may be at an increased risk for a hereditary condition.
Eat Right and Exercise
Many studies suggest that being active can reduce your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. According to U.S. dietary guidelines, adults should get five or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
recommends at least two and a half hours of exercises that increase your breathing and heart rate per week, and more vigorous exercise for one hour and 15 minutes per week.