I’m not sure how the task fell to me, but over the years I have become my family’s de facto genealogist. To my amateur sleuthing credit, I have uncovered more secrets and put to bed more family rumors than one could imagine. During my quest to learn more about my family heritage, I purchased a 23andMe genetic test, which can tell you not only the geographical roots of your human existence but also your migration route—and even genetic traits like the fear of public speaking. What I didn’t realize at the time was the treasure trove of information that existed on the back end of a 23andMe test, information that may be even more important to my well-being and that of my descendants than knowing the likelihood that I move more than average during sleep.
This rich data is already collected as a part of these tests but is not directly reported to the user. It contains information on vulnerabilities in nutrition, inflammation, and detoxification capacity; susceptibility to heart or neurological disease, cognitive or mood dysfunction, and cancer; and deficiencies in cellular metabolism, including which nutrients are in higher demand. This is the kind of imperative knowledge I wanted to have, so I set out to find a professional to analyze it.
The journey took me to the Strata Integrated Wellness Spa at Garden of the Gods Resort & Club in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I checked into one of its new casitas for a long weekend. There, Karly Powell, a registered naturopathic doctor with expertise in therapeutic nutrition and functional biochemistry, has developed a program called Decode Your DNA. In it, she conducts a specialized analysis of the raw data of a client’s DNA to provide an understanding of an individual’s genetic health background and deficiencies and then creates a personalized wellness plan.
According to Dr. Michael Barber, Strata’s medical director, the most common issues are found are in the so-called methylation pathways, which control how our bodies handle nutrients, supplements, and medications. Abnormalities in these pathways can influence the risks for neurological, cardiac, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and other systemic illnesses. With my newly analyzed DNA information, Powell crafted a custom-made, gene-based “prescription” for me that included a long-term dietary program, targeted nutritional supplementation, and lifestyle modifications.
That weekend, I began to make her suggested modifications and utilized the doctors, physicians, clinicians, and therapists at Strata. Strata is one of the few spas in the country that offer this kind of personalized medicine paired with bespoke nutrition and fitness, as well as the opportunity to address cardiology, kinesiology, and energy needs in the same facility.
“Many people say that your genes—genetics—are not your future but your potential,” Barber says. “Knowing in advance where one might be susceptible to issues such as heart disease, cognitive or mood dysfunction, cancer, or nutritional issues may allow a person to alter critical components of diet, exercise, [and] lifestyle to maximize their potential for optimal health.”