If you knew your genetic makeup, would it help you lose weight?
Linda Taylor, a functional medical provider, says yes.
The nurse practitioner specializes in helping adults better address chronic health challenges including obesity, and recently started offering a multi-week weight loss program based on genetic testing.
"The patient comes in and it's a very quick visit to swab the inside of their cheek to collect the DNA sample," said Taylor, who conducts the test in her office at Invision Health in Williamsville. Then we Fed-Ex that to the Precision Genetics lab and in three weeks we have a 12-page report based on a patient's specific variances in their genes. It's testing four specific genes and it gives me the variances that they have of each of those genes."
Taylor, 60, of Amherst, went Trocaire College to become a registered nurse and worked almost 25 years in coronary care and the emergency department at Sister's of Charity Hospital - St. Joseph's Campus. She received her bachelor's in nursing and nurse practitioner degrees at Daemen College. She opened a holistic health practice in 2005 and joined Invision Health early last year.
Taylor will host a free talk, Weight Issues: Hormones or Genetics?," at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Invision office, 400 International Drive. All are welcome.
"I help people with specific issues they may have, things like fatigue, stress, hormone imbalance, thyroid issues, high cholesterol, people who want to know what kinds of supplements are best for them to take," she said during a recent interview.
All of her patients are required to keep their gynecologist and primary care doctor.
"Often, the people I see have situations that take more time, or those patients prefer a different approach than they can get in their primary care setting. Appointments with a new patient is an hour and a half. Follow-ups are an hour.
"I tell them in the beginning how they're going to progress through their visit so that they don't feel like they have to tell me everything in the first five minutes, because they do. Primary care is on a tight schedule, through no fault of their own. It's just the way it is."
Her services are not covered by health insurance.
Q. What kind of gene markers is Precision Genetics looking for?
They know which genes are responsible for exercise, your body's metabolism of different macronutrients. Then they look at your genes and say, "Your body does this but your variant is this way." Maybe it will say your body doesn't metabolize fats well, so you have a risk of obesity and need to be careful about how much fat you take in.
In addition to that, it tells you things. For example, my genetic test report tells me my body responds well to exercise. If I exercise, I don't have any risk of obesity later in life, which is very motivating. If I don't have time to do a 45-minute workout, I'll do 25 squats, or something, because I know my body responds well to it and some exercise is better than nothing. I find it motivating in that way.
Q. We've reached a point genetically where we can figure these things out?
Yeah. Another great thing is it tells me what supplements are best for a particular person based on their genes. For example, CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid) is good for me to take and it helps burn belly fat, but for other patients no, so why waste the money on it?
Q. What have you heard from people who've invested money to do this?
I had one patient back in my old practice who spent $15,000 with a trainer and was just getting bigger and bigger, and more and more frustrated. I said, "Why don't we do it and see what we get?" Wouldn't you know, when it came back, the test said that based on her genes, only 10 percent of her workout should be intense and the rest should be low-impact: walking, slow jog, Pilates, yoga, that type of thing. What did she say to me? "When I was in my 20s, that's all I ever did and that was the best shape I was ever in."
I'm not saying trainers are bad. They're very good. But you need to know what your body benefits most from because you can run in to blanket recommendations.
Q. Have you had other patients who tried this and it just didn't work?
It's up a patient's own motivation. We're supplying the information based on test results and then it's up to them to do it or not. But you know for life. If you can't do it today, you have the information you need when you're ready to focus on it.
Q. What is key when it comes to functional medicine that helps people improve their health?
There's fundamental things I think every patient needs and that's based on everything that I've studied over all these years. That's a good whole food supplement – not a multiple vitamin that includes chemicals made in a lab; a good whole food supplement – a good omega-3 that has no mercury or chemicals in it, and the next thing I do is check their vitamin D. You want to know what you're getting, not go online or the store and buy anything.
Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon