One of our partners Mudho Health are writing a series of blogs to provide a range of insights into how our DNA can influence our well-being.
Offering insight into why people do what they do can provide understanding on how to manage people situations. It can also shed light on well-being issues. These include why absenteeism can happen to some individuals more than others, and manifest in different ways.
The question we’re asking today is…
Can a DNA test help reduce employee absenteeism?
The benefits of understanding our DNA are now well established in the medical, sports and health industries. A new area which is gaining some interest is that of the corporate world and improving health in the workplace.
Absenteeism in the workplace is a tangible issue for many companies and employees. In 2018, employees lost an average of 4.4 working days, an increase on the year before. Can your company afford to lose traction and face logistical issues due to absenteeism?
DNA and health and wellbeing
In this first blog we look at:
- How DNA affects us
- What a DNA test can offer such as information to help improve general health and well-being.
DNA testing at work can be used as an experiment in improving things such as workplace culture or employee absenteeism, as we’re looking at in this article.
DNA provides our basic blueprint for life and is shaped like a twisted ladder. This twisted ladder is called the double helix. It is made up from 4 nitrogen bases which form structures called nucleotides within our DNA. These are called genes.
Genes make proteins that build a variety of things from hair, skin, organs to which eye colour you have. We have roughly 25,000 genes, some genes contain a few hundred letters to others that contain millions.
As humans we all have the same genes, just the variation of those genes will be vastly different. Individual variations will hold the key to:
- How you absorb and process certain foods and vitamins
- How you individually respond to exercise, stress or sleep
- Many other factors
Unlocking your genetic code, and discovering what makes you unique, may hold the key to becoming a fitter, healthier and ultimately a happier you.
Let’s focus on two of the many areas which can be analysed with a DNA test. They play into each other to improve your health by hopefully reducing your risk of getting a cold or flu.
As previously mentioned, we all have tiny variations in our genes. This basically allow us to absorb the vitamins and minerals within our food.
For instance, we can compare Beta-carotenes (found in carrots) conversion to the usable form of vitamin A:
Vitamin A is more than just a single nutrient. It’s a broad group of related nutrients, each providing us with differing health benefits.
Retinoids are made up into retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and retinyl esters and can be found in animal sources.
Carotenoids are made up from a larger family. These include two subcategories, carotenes and xanthophyll’s. This then branch off further still into a variety of other elements. These include such beta-carotenes and astaxanthin, and which are found in plants.
The two forms aren’t just chemically different, they also provide us with different types of health benefits. Depending on your genetic variation of gene BCO1, your ability to convert beta-carotene from plants into retinol effectively will differ.
Retinoids and animal sources contain the active form of vitamin A already, and thus conversion is not needed. So, if you are following a vegan/plant-based diet you may have a possible vitamin A (Retinol) deficiency.
Now apply the same logic to:
- How you sleep
- Deal with stress
- Your ability to fight off any bugs floating around the office
A healthy immune system is obviously extremely important to us all. Every minute of every day your body is under attack from bacteria and viruses or producing reactive oxygen species (ROS), also referred to as free radicals.
Research is demonstrating that free radicals cause oxidative stress and damage your DNA.
This leads to ageing and underlies all disease processes. These include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Premature ageing
- Plays a role in the development of cancer
Your body produces antioxidant enzymes, which remove these ROS. Genetically, some people do not produce good levels of these antioxidant enzymes and are at risk of increased oxidative damage. ]
Your body’s own antioxidant enzymes are far more powerful than any antioxidant supplement. To decrease oxidative stress you need to enhance your ability to produce these antioxidant enzymes.
A DNA test can be an extremely useful tool to ascertain whether your antioxidant genes have slightly impaired function. And then what you need to do to improve them.
Getting a good night’s sleep has many health connotations associated with it. Understanding your genetic predispositions can help shine some light on any issues that you may have.
Our genetics play a role in the development of sleep disorders, quantity and quality of sleep. Also, whether we are more likely to stay up late, get up early, or have naps during the day etc.
For instance, individuals which are predisposed and more likely to be night owls may have issues getting to sleep. If they have a vitamin A deficiency risk, it may cause them more issues in trying to get to sleep.
The reason being is that melatonin, or the “Sleep hormone”, which is responsible for signalling darkness to the body. Regulating daily physiological rhythms is hugely affected by vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency causes a reduction in gene AANAT, which will reduce melatonin levels.
So again, you can see how your genes in many instances act as a community. If you have trouble sleeping, you might firstly be predisposed to being a “Night Owl.”
This trait will then be magnified if you have an “Increased Risk” of deficiency of vitamin A.
You can quickly see how these examples can affect just one aspect of your day to day life. For this reason, they are paramount to keeping you fit and healthy.
Having certain issues at work, such as energy levels, reduced productivity to stopping you from picking up the latest office cold?
Understanding what makes you tick at the genetic level may hold some of the answers as to why.
DNA testing in the workplace
If you’re looking to implement DNA testing in your workplace, research shows that younger generations are more willing to engage in the process. However, older people see it as more invasive and want more information. Once this information has been satisfied, 95% of people agree to having their DNA measured!
Could it benefit you, your workforce and your workplace?
Muhdo Health has found that by testing individuals’ genetics and applying specific lifestyle interventions, we can expect to see an improvement in their quality of life.
Make a positive difference to workers by enabling them to take control of their health and improve their wellbeing. Their genetic profile is completely personalised to them and they can process the results at their time and pace.
For further details please visit Muhdo.com