SNPS: Our Genetic IndividualityJul 05, 2021
DNA contains the genetic code, a special language housed in genes that provide the blueprint for everything that happens in our bodies.
Humans are 99.9% identical in our DNA. It's in that 1% difference that we each can claim our individuality - what makes us unique from the billions of other people living on earth.
That difference comes from millions of small changes in DNA that exist from one person to another called SNPs, otherwise known as "single nucleotide polymorphisms and pronounced "snips".
SNPs in Our DNA
DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic acid, and it is composed of long strands made up of four different nucleotides called adenine, guanine, thymine, and cytosine, or A, G, T, and C for short. It exists as two long strands that are paired in a specific manner. The DNA is grouped into functional units called genes, which can be either a small or large section of DNA.
Sometimes when our DNA copies itself to make new cells, mistakes occur. Small mistakes in one of these nucleotides can change the genetic code. Sometimes these mistakes get corrected, and sometimes they don't.
Over millions of years of evolution, we have developed about 10 million SNPs as a species. But we don't all have that many SNPs in our own DNA. Each person averages about 3-4 million in a unique combination.
Altering DNA Function
While many SNPs have no impact on the genetic code, some of these SNPs can affect how genes produce the proteins that run the processes that are vital for our cells to function. They can affect how we process the food we eat, the medications and supplements we take, and predispositions for diseases and cancers.
They also can impact how we respond to our internal and external environments - including our telomeres, epigenetics and how fast we age.
These SNPs also play a role in what each person needs for health - and why we each often need something different. Knowing your genetic code can provide a powerful tool in creating strategies for healthy aging that are customized for YOU.