Genetic testing helps to determine underlying biological contributors to emotional, behavioral and cognitive symptoms and it also helps to guide treatment. Genetic testing guides precise selection of medications that will increase chance of effectiveness and decrease the risk of side effects.
This type of test informs the treatment of many conditions, including:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
According to Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old traditional medical system of India, the first step in addressing health problems is to examine lifestyle factors, and the second, to address diet. Only then does one proceed to other treatments.
Poor nutrition and nutritional deficiencies are common and can have a significant impact on mood, anxiety, attention and concentration, energy, stress tolerance, irritability, and mind-body disorders such as irritable bowel, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue. Diet is a foundation of health and a priority in the treatment of mind health. Certain problems can be fully resolved through nutritional interventions. Diet is closely related to the levels of inflammation in our bodies and inflammation is increasingly being recognized as the underlying cause of many physical and mental conditions. Nutritional deficiencies and food sensitivities are surprisingly common.
Poor nutrition has been linked to many conditions, including depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, fibromyalgia and inflammation related conditions. Identifying a nutritional deficiency or food sensitivity can be challenging.
We offer a few different options in testing and evaluation of nutritional status and how diet may be contributing to mental health symptoms.
1. Elimination diets
This is the gold standard for identifying food sensitivities. Elimination diets involve the avoidance of a specific food for several weeks to see if physical and mental health symptoms change as a result of the elimination. Fore example do headaches, bloating or anxiety improve if one eliminates a specific food. If the symptoms resolve, the food is then reintroduced, to test whether symptoms return. This process can take several weeks to several months. The targeted foods depends on the individual, but can include dairy, wheat, gluten, eggs, corn, soy, refined sugar, food additives and colorings, and preservatives. Elimination diets can be life changing when a sensitivity is discovered.
2. General laboratory testing
A general lab such as Quest or LabCorp can test for many nutrients and vitamin deficiencies as well as inflammatory markers. These tests are typically covered by insurance.
3. Genetic testing
We use Genomind to identify individual variation in genetics that may allow a much better understanding of the predispositions and symptoms of various disorders and guides precise medication and some supplement choices. Insurance typically covers majority of the cost and if there is a copay it is likely to be under $300. Please check with Genomind to know what the exact cost will be with your insurance.
4. Specialized nutritional testing
This is send away functional medicine testing that allows for an in depth investigation of how the various vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids are working in the body. We use the Genova Diagnostic ION panel and additional specialized labs. Specialty send away labs are only covered by some insurances.
The elimination diet and test results guide personalized supplement and nutritional recommendations.
The best way to get all nutrients is through food, yet sometimes it is not possible to do that because of the changes in our food and the mass production of food. Nutritional supplements are a tool that is useful when diet alone is not sufficient. Nutritional supplements can reduce the need for medications and improve the effect of medications, for example adding folate to an SSRI antidepressant in an individual with MTHFR gene mutation.
Is it possible to get nutrients from food?
In a study published in Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2004, Davies evaluated the USDA nutrient content of 43 garden crops between 1950 and 1999 and found reliable declines for most nutrients (protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid). The decline in nutrient content has many reasons one of which is the changes in species of which plants are cultivated.
Many Americans consume less than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of certain nutrients, especially:
Vitamins A and E
Research in the area of nutrition is growing and shows many links between specific nutrients and mental health conditions and treatment. For example:
- Low iron and ferritin levels in children with ADHD, and positive response with iron supplementation.
- Zinc levels predict response to stimulant medication in children with ADHD and zinc supplementation was found to significantly reduce ADHD symptoms in certain studies.*
- Essential fatty acid deficiencies play a role in hyperactivity, conduct and social behavior in children.**
And many others- see our blog for more information.
If you are interested in pursuing nutritional counseling or integrating nutrition into your treatment, Mind Body Seven clinicians provide these services in conjunction with other approaches.
Dr. Beata Lewis, MD specializes in nutritional and genetic testing and integrative medicine and psychiatry evaluations. Dr. Lewis is board certified in Integrative Holistic Medicine and has a long standing interest in nutritional and integrative approaches to mental health treatment.
*(Arnold LE, Votolato NA, Kleykamp D, Baker GB, Bornstein RA. Does hair zinc predictamphetamine improvement of ADD/hyperactivity? Int J Neurosci. Jan 1990;50(1-2):103-107. 89. And Arnold LE, DiSilvestro RA. Zinc in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. Aug 2005;15(4):619-627.)
**( Kirby A, Woodward A, Jackson S, Wang Y, Crawford MA. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study investigating the effects of omega-3 supplementation in children aged 8-10 years from a mainstream school population. Res Dev Disabil. May-Jun 2010;31(3):718-730.)