Change your genetics

Is It Possible to Change My Genetics? [Podcast Episode #104]

What's one thing that you really LOVE about your body?

It's a tough question to answer. Oftentimes, we're more comfortable listing all the things we'd like to change. It can feel awkward talking about what we feel blessed with.

Each of us was born with certain attributes that we love and others we wish we didn't have. Some things are easy to change (e.g. hair or eye colour), at least temporarily, while other characteristics seem permanent - you're just stuck with them.

But, is that the case when it comes to your health?

Are you really "stuck" with your weight, your shape, your fitness level, your sickness, your pain, or all the other aspects of health that seem locked in?

Do you have to cater to the genes you were born with, OR can you change your genes altogether?

Let's take a look...

Is It Possible to Change My Genetics [Full Text]

How Can I Change My Genetics

Dave Smith: Hey, thanks so much for joining in this episode of The Make Your Body Work Podcast. As you know, this show is all about helping you live a healthier and happier life. Today our topic, I'll admit, it sounds pretty sciencey, and this might give you flashbacks to science class back in high school, or college, or university.

hopefully when you hear it you don't tune out, because I'll tell you, when we dive into it there are some really applicable lessons that are super practical for all of us. But let me start by reading [Ansley's 00:01:00] question.

Ainsley wrote in and she said, "Dave, I've heard you talk about DNA and genetic testing on your show, but I was reading a book recently that suggested that we can change our genes based on our lifestyle choices. This makes me wonder how important it really is to cater to our genes, or to even worry about what our genes originally say. If we can actually change our genes, then shouldn't that be our focus? At least it would be a nice thought, if we're able to change them."

And Ainsley, thanks for writing in. And I appreciate ... I think that last line was a little bit of humour. Wouldn't it be nice? Wouldn't it be nice if we could just pick and choose, look at our genetic makeup and think, "Okay, well if I just exercise this way, or I eat this way, then I can just instantly change that piece of my genetic code?" That sounds like a nice thought, you know, flipping switches. Wouldn't it be nice? And maybe there is some truth to that. That's what we're gonna talk about today.

I'm really excited to introduce to you an expert in this field, someone who has a background in science, has been studying genetics, and something called epigenetics for many years now, and she's gonna share a lot of insights that answer Ansley's question, and also give us a starting point. What can we do to take our genetics and optimize our health? So I'm excited to introduce to you Shira Litwack.

Meet Shira Litwack                  

Dave: Hey, Shira. Thanks so much for joining us on the show today.

Shira Litwack: It's my pleasure.

Dave Smith: Now, yeah, we've got a pretty heavy duty, what I'd say a heavy duty topic today, very sciencey topic ...

Shira Litwack: Love it.                                         

Dave Smith: ... and I was wondering, before ... Yeah. I love that you love it, because some people would look at this question and think, "Oh, my gosh. What are we talking about?"

Shira Litwack: No. I'm a hardcore science geek. Love it.

Dave Smith: Yeah, and that's what I was wondering, actually, is, how did you get so interested in genetics, epigenetics? Can you tell us a little bit about your personal story?

Shira Litwack: I started out, if you ask my kids, it was back in the days of the dinosaurs, when I got my original degree in chemistry and biochemistry. And then with my love of studying about health I realized, again, and this is going back a number of years before the human genome was constructed, this was learning all about, and I hate to use the word primitive level to what we know now, but the effects our lifestyle can have.

Combine that with having an intense love for health, and fitness, and getting people turned on, I realized there's many things, I'm sure you can agree with me here, that people do in the health and fitness world that turn people off of health and fitness.

And it's just bad advice. So what I did is, I took my love of science, and genetics, and chemistry, and I combined that with my love of health and fitness, went on, studied a little bit more about disease, which is how I got into exercise in terms of prevention and recovery from disease, and it just kind of went on from there.

Dave Smith: You know, I bet you we could probably do a couple different podcast episodes just talking about your expertise, and your learning. Before we dive into Ansley's question, are there any huge, "Aha," moments that you had throughout the course of your research and study that you're just, like, this was a game changer for you?

Shira Litwack: There's been a lot of connect the dots, and I'm going to say that I think my connecting the dots moments were really the, "Ahas." So for instance, something that you hear many times, just to add a little controversy, is people say, "I know this person, she exercised like a beast. She ate to perfection, and she got breast cancer at 35."

There actually are answers for that, and part of what we're talking about today is how we hone those lifestyle habits based on our genetics, and understanding the difference in genetics and epigenetics, understanding oxidative stress.

And the more you learn, you realize how intimately they're involved. And being such a huge fan, as you are, for exercise, you realize that exercise and nutrition… but I think most people understand that about nutrition but they don't about exercise, it really is key. It is the keys to the magic kingdom of health. And when we put everything together we understand why that is so.

What If I’m Already Doing Everything Right?

Dave Smith: You know, the example that you gave is so powerful, and that's one that I've heard as well, someone who does, quote, unquote, everything right, and then ends up with cancer, or dies at a young age.

And I've had people point to examples like that and say, "Well, look Dave. See, that happened to such and such a person," so they're kind of joking, but kind of serious, saying, "Well, why should I even try?" Well, what would you say to someone who has that argument?

Shira Litwack: Because there's so many aspects of exercise, let's just talk exercise. When people talk the right exercise ... You're obviously a very seasoned exercise professional, and you know there's right exercise and wrong exercise for people.

You know there's people who work well outside their boundaries, and there's people who do that repeatedly, who don't understand the concept of recovery. So taking that on the one hand, and taking that with... Okay, excuse me, we can't forget nutrition.

Recovery is just as important as exercise. Without it, your body never gets a chance to rebuild better than it

Click to Tweet

I hate to be sexist, but I'm a woman. You're not, so I feel I can be a little bit more direct here. There are certain things, for instance, you know, with women, "I don't eat a drop of fat," they'll tell me. Well, that's not good.

Our cell membrane is made of fat. I mean, when we take a look at it, and there's women who do cardio, cardio, cardio, cardio, cardio, and they don't want to do resistance training, which breaks my heart.

They don't want to do resistance training 'cause, "I don't want to get ripped." Well, my first comment is, "That should be the worst thing that ever happens to you," and my second comment is “understanding the role of muscle”.

So people can think they're exercising properly. They can think they're eating properly. They haven't taken a look at the oxidative stressors in their life, which is a whole nother topic, but there are many factors, and again, what we're talking about today, what are their genetics?

[inaudible 00:07:53] genetics to start with, and what genetic variances have happened over time? Have there been any gene insertions or deletions which has caused a genetic variance, which has made them even more susceptible to disease?

Dave Smith: That's a great answer. You sort of described, the people will say, "I'm doing everything right," but that statement, it's so subjective. What someone might think is right for them, or just even for the general population, could be very wrong.

Shira Litwack: Dave, do you remember, I don't know how old you are, but I'm old enough to remember this, do you remember. I think it was the 1980s, early 90s, where people went on to pasta, pasta, pasta, pasta, told everyone to eat pasta. Go easy on meat. Go easy on proteins. And well, guess what? We created a lot of health problems with that.

So yeah, it's subjective. I am, again, being very much a scientist, I read countless studies that come my way, and ones that I search for as well. And it's really ... First of all, just because you read it on the internet, doesn't mean it's right. As I always say, my chihuahua could post something on the internet. She's a very smart chihuahua.

And the other thing is that, again, talking about genetic variances, talking about what we're susceptible to, and modifying our lifestyle. And I think the biggest one, and this is where everyone is gonna not listen to your show anymore, is understanding alcohol.

Dave Smith: Oh, man. You've made some enemies. Don't tell the listeners that wine needs to written off. Everyone's gonna shut off.

Understanding Alcohol: How Does It Fit In Your Healthy Lifestyle?

Shira Litwack: It doesn't need to be written off at all, but what we need to understand is, those studies where it's good for you, it's good for your heart, well, I think we can all think of a few heart healthy things that we can do.

It's a question of knowing the right amount, getting rid of generalized terms like moderation, and being scientists, being quantitative. What is the amount of alcohol?

If we are at a higher risk of breast cancer, that we learn from our genomics, then when we look at the studies of alcohol and breast cancer, we really want to minimize our alcohol consumption.

We want to make sure when we're exercising we're not exercising beyond our lactate threshold. We want to make sure that we allow for recovery time. So again, knowing what's right, and what's wrong, is sometimes a part of the issue.

To solve your health issues, you must first understand them. What are you doing to understand your body better?

Click to Tweet

Dave Smith: Again, I totally agree. I laugh when you bring up alcohol. I remember, this was maybe about 6 months or a year ago, an article came out. I forget, it was in a pretty major publication, and the title said something like, "New research shows that a glass of red wine provides the same cardiovascular benefits as 30 minutes of exercise," something along those lines. I had a number of people email it to me, usually in jest, saying, "See, I don't need to exercise. I just drank my glass of red wine."

Shira Litwack: You know, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Jenny Connor. She's in New Zealand, and she did a, I don't remember how many year, I think like a 10 year study, and it was a meta-analysis, which means she put together a number of studies from around the world.  Thousands and thousands of studies she put together. All I can say is, we can refer to that. I do have that available.

And then I put together a panel of different experts, and handling those studies, and again, I'm not telling people not to enjoy their wine. I'm not telling people at all to do that. What I'm saying is, we have this expression, "Drink in moderation." Well, you know as well as I do moderation for some people is, "Okay, I'm only gonna have three glasses tonight."

Dave Smith: Yeah, exactly.

Shira Litwack: Or there's something called liver math. Do you know what liver math is?

Dave Smith: No.

Shira Litwack: This is what I call liver math. "Well, I'm not gonna drink Monday through Friday, so Saturday night I can have seven drinks. No, the liver does not work that way, okay? These are the things that we have to make sure that people understand. And again, if you're genetically predisposed to certain diseases we might want to heed a little bit more to certain lifestyle habits.

Dave Smith: That's actually a great transition into Ansley's question, because basically, to sum up what she says, she's heard on my podcast and in my blog I've written about DNA testing and other types of diagnostics as well that can sort of show what your body is most predisposed to do well with, whether it be food, or exercise, or how much sleep you need, or whatever it is.

And then she wrote back saying, "Okay, I get that DNA could be a great indicator or a great place to start, but I've read that your genes can actually change. And if you can change your genes ... " her question is, " ... why don't we just focus on changing our genes as opposed to catering to our original DNA?" So maybe you can just start off by telling us, at first thought, you're an expert in this, what comes to mind when you hear her question?

What Can You Learn From Genomics?

Shira Litwack: The Lion King.

Dave Smith: Okay, I didn't expect that.

Shira Litwack: You saw The Lion King, I assume?

Dave Smith: Yeah, of course.

Shira Litwack: And do you remember Muffassa said to baby Simba, "Remember who you are?"

Dave Smith: Yeah.

Shira Litwack: Okay, there you go. What we find out from the study of genetics, which has evolved more into genomics the last few years, gives us an excellent guide, and it lets us know. For instance, genetics was used very successfully for many years about the BRCA gene.

Most people don't understand what the BRCA gene is. It's a tumor suppressor. And if people are missing it, or there's a gene variant, then people have a higher tendency to get breast cancer, and by the way, both men and women, not just women.

So for instance, there's many diseases we've known over the years, sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs, a number of different diseases which have been associated with genetic disorders. But a lot of those are what we call monogenic. It depends on one gene.

What genomics has done, which I think now science is putting Star Trek to shame, is ... What it's doing now is it's showing how the genes interact with each other, what is causing those changes, and moreover, how those genes are interacting with our environment, and that's the whole idea of being able to change them. Now, going back to Ansley's question, again, I'm just gonna assume by our voices, Dave, that you and I have a different genetic makeup.

Dave Smith: Agreed.

Shira Litwack: Okay. And so it's much easier to target, and to look for variants, to understand our genetics, and then to study our possibility of diseases. So for instance, I've used the term variants a couple of times, and I just feel guilty that I haven't explained something, so if you'll kind of let me backtrack a little bit ...

Dave Smith: Yeah, please do.

Shira Litwack: Our DNA is what goes into our genetics. When we talk about genetics we're talking about our DNA. Now, first of all, what most people don't realize, and I want to make sure everyone really understands this, cancer, we all dread cancer. Every single one of us dreads cancer, but what is cancer?

Cancer is not a tumor. That's how it can manifest itself, amongst many other ways, but cancer is when the DNA has been changed, and reprogrammed, and for whatever reason our immune system isn't optimized, 'cause we don't exercise enough or whatever it may be, that DNA was allowed to replicate and take over.

So cancer is really a mechanism, so to speak, but our DNA is made of four nucleotides, adenine, thiamine, guanine, and cytosine, okay, ATGC. And what happens is, we have something called gene variance, and this really what genomics, how it's evolved from genetics and what it is studying, okay?

So I've talked about variance. Well the most common is called a SNP, which is SNP, pronounced snip. And that's basically when our body goes to duplicate the DNA to create new cells, basically a typo happens in the instructions. Sometimes our body corrects it, and sometimes it doesn't.

Therefore it's going to lead to a variation in that DNA sequence. That's an SNP, a snip. And then we also have other kinds of variations, and the other big one is INDELS, which insertions and deletions.

And I don't want to go into too many details there, but suffice it to say is, understanding how our environment, how our nutrition, how oxidative stressors in our life can effect the way our genes replicate if there's an error, and our body's ability to be able to shut that error down.

Dave Smith: So tell me if this is a right summary of what you just explained here is, our genes are gonna have these instances, these SNPs. They are gonna have insertions and deletions.

Shira Litwack: Correct.

Dave Smith: But then our body's ability to come out of those instances without any health repercussions can be influenced by our lifestyle choices. So if we are eating well, exercising, taking care of our body, there's a higher likelihood that we would be able to overcome or get past those without any big repercussions. Is that basically what you're saying?

Living a healthy lifestyle gives your body a better chance to fight disease and bodydisfunction, regardless of your genetic makeup.

Click to Tweet

Other Important Genetic Factors to Consider

Shira Litwack: Absolutely. And some of them are supposedly, and this is where genomics is very young, and you're gonna see different experts say slightly different variations here, but some of them don't necessarily lead to anything.

So for instance, I read this statistic, and again you can't hold me to an exact number here, it's thought that SNPs occur every 300 nucleotides, and either their nucleotides remember it, the building blocks, or the DNA.

And again, the hope is that, sometimes, we can use those as biological markers helping scientists locate genes that are associated with diseases, but sometimes, if they're located in the wrong place, they can have more of a direct role in disease by effecting the gene's function.

So yes, our whole idea… and the thing that I really, and this would be a few podcasts unto itself, that I want people to really understand is, of course our nutrition is hugely important. Of course the right exercise is hugely important, but there's other factors.

There's environmental factors, what we're being exposed to. Of course, we know about cigarette smoke. Well, we also know about secondhand smoke, and third hand smoke.

Dave Smith: What's third hand smoke? This is new to me.

Shira Litwack: Oh, okay. So living this warm, fuzzy country that we do, well, I shouldn't say that today, but let's say you have a friend that comes over and they smoke. And they're very kind. They know Dave doesn't smoke, so they butt out before they go into your place, but they put their coat into your closet which, let's face it, you and I, being non-smokers, we will know that it smells of cigarette smoke.

That has third hand carcinogens on it which, excuse the bluntness of the word, leech onto your clothing in the closet. And it is being proven more and more often that third hand cigarette smoke also contains carcinogens.

And we also look at something called endocrine disrupters. These are substances, or chemicals I should say, that can alter our endocrine system, and they change the way our hormones act, and behave. A big one is called phytoestrogens. You've probably heard of that one before. And knowing these chemical exposures, how that also effects our DNA ...

There's a number of toxins, there's so many different things involved that can be mutagenic agents, and so therefore yes, of course, nutrition, hugely important, exercise, hugely important.

It's all about optimizing our immune system, but you know, there's also the other side. There's other things. There are environmental factors we're exposed to. So for instance, everyone saw the movie Erin Brokavich.

Okay, well people were drinking water that some really nasty chemicals had leeched into the water, which caused horrible cancers, true story. So, I mean, that's why we have to know what the environmental factors are.

Dave Smith:Now, I know this might be a difficult question to answer, or maybe it's not, we'll see. If you had to sort of place importance on something and say, "Start here," what would you recommend to people, because I'll admit, it is a little bit of a doom and gloom story when you say, "Okay, your genetics are set in such a way, but if you're not exercising properly, the right way, if you're not eating the right way, and then if you're exposing yourself to a lot of these environmental issues that are beyond our control then your DNA can quickly spiral out of control." Where do we start?

How to Create Your Healthy "Inner Ecosystem"

Shira Litwack: Well, I also look at the flip side of that, Dave, and the flip side is, many women who carry the BRCA gene never get breast cancer, and most women who have breast cancer don't carry the BRCA gene. So what am I trying to say by that? I think it's very empowering for people to know what their predispositions are, and to be able to tailor their food choices, their nutrition, their supplements.

Wow, do we have people supplementing incorrectly. That's a big one. So let me give you a great example there, glutamine. Glutamine is a fantastic supplement for many people.

Glutamine is the nutrition for the gut to heal all kinds of gut problems. Glutamine helps build our muscles, but people take a lot of glutamine. Well, we've all heard before that we know that many people have cancer kind of in waiting in their body, and they have no idea.

I mean, there's people who say traumatic things like every one of us are carrying cancer cells and the question is what causes them to develop. Well, if we're feeding those cancer cells that do feed on glutamine, then there could be a problem.

So educated supplementation is something that's incredibly important. But I think what's really important for people in all of this is to realize how empowering this can be, and you know, by eating healthy, by getting rid of certain toxins in our life, by eating better food choices, and by getting the right exercise, I think all of those for most things are a really fantastic start.

I mean, some people will throw their hands up in the air and say, "Oh, well, you know. It's gonna get me anyhow." No, that's not true. If we create what I call our inner ecosystem, if we strengthen our inner ecosystem to make sure that it is optimized, that it can do it's job.

That's by optimizing our immune system, optimizing our digestive tract, most people don't necessarily think about this but our digestive tract is really step one of our immune system.

So making sure we have a functioning digestive tract that can absorb nutrients properly. You know, one of the things that's often discovered in genomic testing is that people have gene variants that don't allow them to absorb certain nutrients properly.

There's unfortunately a common one that doesn't allow people to absorb their B vitamins properly. Well, can you imagine if someone doesn't get their B vitamins?

Dave Smith: Shira, you're preaching to the choir. So my genetic tests actually showed B vitamins were one that I struggled with, and since my listeners have heard me talk about this before, I started supplementing with a B vitamin, a liquid B vitamin, and have noticed a huge difference in my energy.

The other one I was thinking about when you were talking about supplements was, and again I'm just speaking anecdotally from my own experience was, I had supplemented for years with whey protein.

And probably 10 years of drinking at least one or two shakes a day, and ended up with all kinds of digestive problems, like continual bloating, and gas, and again, energy issues, and had just this gut health that was so out of whack. And I figured it out on my own, and switched what my supplements were.

Shira Litwack: Good for you.

Dave Smith: And now I use a vegan supplement, and that works really well for me. But having taken the genetic testing, it pointed to that. And I've thought many times, if I had known this 10 years ago, the chance is I could've saved myself so much time.

Should You Take a DNA Test?

Shira Litwack: Yeah. I was reading a heartbreaking story on a particular site that I like, and this woman for many years had miscarriage after miscarriage. And finally, when she was 48 years old, let's say at the end of her child bearing years, she did have genetic testing and found out that she had a genetic variant which did not allow her to absorb the B vitamins, and also something that led to tubal pregnancies.

And you know, she kept saying, "If I only knew this earlier." She says, "I'd be a mom right now," which of course broke my heart to hear that. But you know, I mean, these are things, absolutely. But you also said something so key in what you just said that I don't think you realized, and that was how you said “for you”.

Something that I'm sure you've seen as much as I do, you go to the gym, and you see people who, they'll look at this guy who's really, seriously ripped, and think, "Okay, I'm gonna copy exactly what he does. I'm gonna find out exactly what he eats. I'm gonna exercise exactly like him, and I'm gonna look exactly like him." No, it doesn't work like that.

And this is the power of having the testing. Good for you. You figured it out, you know? But yeah, there could be a lot of problems. There could be. People could have enzyme issues.

They don't break down their macronutrients properly. And again, having a digestive tract that's optimized, that absorbs our nutrients properly, that's functioning, that isn't full of holes, which is kind of a figurative expression ...

But you know, we've heard about leaky gut, and IBS. When all of these problems happen, we're not absorbing our nutrition properly. We are not benefiting from our nutrition.

We might not be producing serotonin, or all the many functions of our digestive tract. And of course, what's the digestive tract? It's in many ways step one of the immune system. We need that precious hydrochloric acid to kill those pathogens that come into our body. Now what happens when people are busy popping antacids?

And so there's many things that we can do in our life that, if we do not have a properly functioning digestive tract, we can be jeopardizing our health.

Dave Smith: And I love the fact that you emphasize the individuality of all this. And your example is right on. You know, I coach women, and I hear all the time, "Oh, my sister, she lost 15 pounds doing this," or, "My neighbor did this, and so I'm gonna do this," and just exactly what you described is so true. So for our listeners, Shira is right on. It's different for everyone, and it takes one of two things, in my opinion. Shira, you tell me if you agree with this.

Either it takes the commitment to invest time to experiment and figure it out, which personally ...

Shira Litwack: Yes.

Dave Smith: ... that's what I did. For me it took 8 or 10 years before I really got a good grasp on what works for me diet wise, or to invest some money in some diagnostics such as genetic testing. Would you agree?

Genetic Variance: What Does It Mean For Your Long-Term Health?

Shira Litwack: Right. Absolutely. I agree with you 100%. Genomic testing can be wonderful. Genomic testing is also used for other aspects, just to let people know. It's used, number one, to help people hone their nutrition much better, to hone their exercise much better, because, for instance, there are certain gene variants.

Now this is gonna sound borderline silly, okay, but there are certain gene variants, I think the statistic, off the top of my head, don't hold me again to the numbers, is only 12% of people respond to fat loss through low intensity exercise, whereas the majority of the population do require higher intensity.

Okay, so we know there is genetic variants which kind of determine our exercise. Now, of course we have to combine that with, "Do we have any musculoskeletal issues," which might be like bad knees, or bad back, whatever, that can influence.

 So therefore, if you speak to someone like Dave, he can help you hone that exercise routine that works for you. So for instance, if someone finds out that they're predisposed to diabetes.

Well, we know that diabetes is rampant, and much of diabetes is not necessarily original genetics. Much of it has happened with time, with the foods they eat, with the physical activity or lack thereof that they've had. You know, the first thing I would personally recommend to someone if they're prone to diabetes is, you work those muscles baby. You get your resistance training. You get your strength training.

It doesn't mean you have to lift heavy, heavy weights. It doesn't mean that we have to damage our body lifting weights. It doesn't mean you have to get ripped, you know, although that is nice. The truth is, is, really along with nutrition our muscles are absolutely critical in the prevention of diabetes, and the management of diabetes.

Dave Smith: Again, I totally agree with you. Again, anecdotally I just wanted to say something. You mentioned that a very small percentage of people are able to lose fat using low intensity cardio.

Shira Litwack: Correct.

Dave Smith: Interestingly, one of the coaches that I work with, she did genetic testing along with me, and hers was exactly the opposite. And it was so fascinating, because right now ...

Shira Litwack: Lucky thing.

Dave Smith: ... hit training is so huge, yeah, everyone is going all high intensity, and there are benefits to that for sure. And so she got caught up in that and said, "You know, when I got my genetic results, and it showed that that's not what I need to be doing," her words were, "It was such a relief, because basically, I sucked at it." And she said, "I didn't enjoy it, and I wasn't getting any results. And I felt like, 'What's wrong with me?'"

 And then when she shifted towards lower intensity, which very few people are promoting these days, all of the sudden she felt great, and her body started to change. So it just goes to show it really is unique to you.

Shira Litwack: Absolutely. And if someone doesn't want genomic testing, I mean, I admire what you said about yourself before. You were open minded to try different things. You gotta journal it. You have to see...

It's like with allergies, and intolerances, stomach intolerances, you kind of have to keep track of what you eat, what you do, and you really have to be faithful to figuring it out. But just because you know someone who started taking supplements A, B, and C, does not mean that's going to work for you, and the same with exercise.

Dave Smith: Again, totally agree.

Shira Litwack: Yeah, I know body builders who ... Two particular male body builders that I know, one of them is always doing hardcore cardio along with his strength training, and another one will barely break a sweat when he's walking, but it's working for both of them.

Dave Smith: Exactly.

Shira Litwack: You know, what they're doing, it's what's right for them.

Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Dave Smith: You know, Shira, I like to wrap up each episode with what I call a Make Your Body Work takeaway, and that's just sort of like an action step that people that have listened in can start with, because you know, you've provided a ton of awesome information, and especially really honed in on that idea of everyone being unique.

What I would like to leave listeners with is, okay, if everyone's unique, that can sound a little bit overwhelming. How am I supposed to figure it out for me? So what would be, you know, an action step that people could do to optimize their health? Where could they start today?

Everyone is unique. Each one of us must take the time to try out different things to know what works best for us

Everyone is unique. Experiment with foods, exercise, sleep schedules, supplements, etc. to find what works best for YOU

Click to Tweet

Shira Litwack: No matter what, you gotta get some kind of exercise. We want to encourage people to get physical activity. But I think what we want people to do, as an example, in the physical activity department, is journalize what you did, and journalize how you were feeling the next day. And keep track.

If fat loss is your goal and we both agree on saying fat loss instead of weight loss... If fat loss is the goal, then what we want to do is, we want to take our time to figure out what works.

Sure, you can get genomic testing, but I think it's important that we give something a chance, we figure out what works for us, we don't make too many changes at the same time, because then, scientifically, we will not be able to isolate what is working, and what is not working.

Dave Smith: Oh, you're such a scientist. I love the way you said that. I love that you said that. For the listeners, I've gone down the road and done the exact opposite, changed you know, 5, or 6, or 10 things thinking I'm gonna be so healthy, and then you have no idea. Well, which one was it. Do I have to keep doing all these forever?

Shira Litwack: That's exactly it. And let's face it, to a lot of people, let's be honest Dave, that turns them off. You know, when people make such drastic changes, "Okay, I have to lose 20 pounds before that wedding. I'm gonna do A, B, C, D, E, F, G." And then, yeah. It's over. It's done. Forget it. You know, it's gotta be something they love. It's gotta be something they actually feel a difference.

Connect With Shira Litwack

Dave Smith: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh, Shira. Again, I agree. For any of the listeners who are interested in learning more about what you do, or maybe being in touch with you to talk more about genetics, epigenetics, how this plays out in terms of disease, disease prevention, fat loss, we talked about many different things, where is the best place that they can connect with you?

Shira Litwack: The best place is either of my two websites. I have, and I have There's blogs. If you scroll down to the bottom of the pages there's a number of different articles.

I also have a podcast that I've done with a number of serious researchers, so for instance, if you go on, I think it's on Best In Health Radio, you can go and look for the one I did with Jenny Connor from The University of Otega in New Zealand on the massive alcohol study that was released last summer.

It was released just a year ago. So if you go to both of those sites there's a number of articles, and by all means, you know, you're welcome to drop me an email. My email is on both of those sites.

Dave Smith: Perfect, and for the listeners, I'll put links to both of the websites, as well as to the study, the alcohol study, so that you don't have to get angry at us. You can look at the facts.

Shira Litwack: Let's blame Jenny, right?

Dave Smith: Exactly. So listeners, if you go to, one hundred and four, I'll have the links to Shira's websites, and to some of her work that would be relevant based on what we just talked about. So Shira, thanks again for being here.

​It was honestly a pleasure to have you, and I'm just so interested in your work. And maybe we can get you back on the show again in the future to talk about another issue that you could shed some light from a genetic perspective on?

Shira Litwack: My absolute pleasure.

Dave Smith: Thanks again, Shira, for being on the show today, and just sharing so much great information about genetics, and how that applies to our life. That's the most important piece is, what are we actually gonna do with all this information that's available today? And I really want to emphasize to the listeners, again, think about how this show culminated. If you really want to optimize your health in a way that is best suited to your unique body you have two options.

Either you can go through an experimentation process, trying out different forms of exercise, trying out different foods, trying out different supplements, journal them, journal how you feel, journal about the results you see. Pick a couple things, try those.

Do it for a couple weeks, try something else, and repeat that process, and that's what I did. Like I said, I did this process for, jeez, 8, maybe 10 years, before I feel like I really honed in on just the perfect system for my body. And you can do that as well.

Or you can fast track. And I'll be honest with you, if I had known about genetic testing, or had the opportunity to do it 10 years ago, I would've jumped on that in a heartbeat, because it would have saved me so much time. And that is the other option. If you're interested in doing some genetic testing to figure out, you know, the unique solution for your body, I would love to coach you through that process.

The True To You Program

I run a program that's called True To You, and I run this with two other coaches, and that's exactly what we do. We provide a DNA test for you, and then walk you through your results, and the most important piece is, help you build a plan that practically takes those results and implements them into your life so that you can start to see those changes based on those results.

If that sounds like something that you'd be interested in you can go to to check out the True to You program, or you can go to today's podcast episode at

So hopefully you found this to be a fascinating topic and are excited to start to make some changes based on your genetics, again, whether you experiment to figure it out, or whether you do some testing to get some tangible results with a step by step action plan. Either way, make those changes.

Thanks for joining me today!