What exactly is a trait? What is a phenotype?
A “trait” is just a fancy word for a specific characteristic of an individual. For instance, your eye color is a trait.
Eye color can also be a “phenotype.” It’s often used interchangeably with “trait.” However, “phenotype” generally refers to a trait that can be easily seen. In the case of eye color, you can look at someone and see that they have blue eyes.
On the other hand, the amount of liver cells you have in your body would be a trait. We wouldn’t call this a phenotype because it’s not something you can easily see.
How do we develop particular traits or phenotypes?
Traits are encoded by one or more genes. Your ability to digest lactose (found in dairy products) is determined by a single gene, whereas height is polygenic. This means that it’s determined by multiple genes.
The vast majority of traits are polygenic. They are the result of a combination of your genes and the environment. The parts of your environment that affect your traits include things like your nutrition, exercise, and where you live.
We inherit two copies of our genes — one from each parent. When you only need one copy to show a trait, we call this a dominant trait. For example, if you inherit the brown hair gene from one parent, and the blond hair gene from the other, you will have brown hair. Brown hair is the dominant trait.
When you need two copies of a gene to show a phenotype or trait, we call this a recessive trait. In the previous example, both of your parents could have had brown hair but carried one blond hair gene. If by luck you inherited a blond hair gene from each parent, you would have blond hair.
But like we said before, these traits are rare. The vast majority of traits are what geneticists call “additive” and/or polygenic traits.
Polygenic traits are influenced by your environment. Your genes might make you more likely to be tall, but if you are born in a place where you can’t get enough nutrients, it will impact your growth.
But this is good news when it comes to chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It means that even if your genes make you more likely to develop a disease, changing your lifestyle, diet, or supplement intake (i.e., your environment) may lower your chances.
So where does SelfDecode come in?
At SelfDecode, we look at a particular health condition (a trait or phenotype) and we tell you how your genes affect your risk of developing that particular condition. Then we suggest simple environmental changes (lifestyle, diet, and supplements) based on your DNA, to optimize your health.
We all have a unique set of genes, which is why knowing our genetic risk and what we can do to improve our odds is invaluable.
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High Blood Sugar
Chronic Fatigue / Tiredness
Restless Leg Syndrome
Shoulder & Neck Pain
Hair Loss (Male-Pattern Baldness)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Testosterone – Males
Yeast infection (Candida)
Length of menstrual cycle
Hearing/difficulty problem /Hearing loss
Low Blood Sugar
Seasonal Low Mood
Low back injury
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Ligament Rupture (ACL Injury)
Tendon Injury (Tendinopathy)
Omega 6:Omega 3 Ratio
Bioavailable Testosterone (Male)
Air pollution sensitivity
Caffeine-Related Sleep Problems
Heart rate recovery
Bioavailable Testosterone (Female)
LDL Particle Size
IL-17A (Th17 Dominance)
IL-6 (Th2 and Th17)
Chili Pepper sensitivity
Mold Sensitivity (Foodborne)
Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
Sensitivity to Dairy (IgG Casein)
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (IgG Gliadin)
Mold Sensitivity (Airborne)
Low Sperm Count
White blood cell count
Red blood cell count
Achilles tendon injury
Response to Stress
Rotator cuff injury
Time spent watching TV
Response to Caffeine
Wearing glasses or contacts
Bitter Taste Sensitivity
Openness to experience