Ancestry.com and 23andMe both have a big business with their DNA kits these days. People who seek more detailed insight into their heritage take these simple saliva tests to learn if they hail from Ireland, Italy, Greece, or who knows where in the world. An interesting side note is that these kits have spawned a movement for people to want to travel to where their ancestry comes from: now known as “DNA Travel.”
Both Ancestry.com and 23andMe have partnered with travel companies to offer Ancestry Tours or Sweepstakes to destinations based on a person’s DNA results. In the case of Ancestry.com, they offer what amounts to packaged vacations to popular areas like Ireland, Italy, Germany, and Scotland which include the major sites and attractions but also pre-travel meetings with genealogists to see if they can help you trace a link to specific ancestors who might still be living in the region.
Yet on a wider basis, people who find out they have African roots or Croatian ties then turn around on their own and plan out an excursion to these destinations to see what they can find or to just travel to where they might feel closer to their own personal heritage.
But from a wellness perspective, there is also an added benefit for those who take these DNA tests to learn more about their wellness legacy. Hidden within the results — which are just gibberish to most of us who don’t have the software to read the stats — are some interesting clues to your own body’s DNA and future health.
When I first started seeing a Naturopath, she told me to take a 23andMe DNA test. I know I’m of Italian heritage, so for me there was no need to discover my background. But I must admit when I did finally travel to Italy a few years back I felt a certain innate sense of belonging with “my people.”
What was amazing to me is that the software my Naturopath had decoded a lot of the findings from the 23andMe test to show a number of things. For example, my body has no capability to store Vitamin D which is essential to regulating calcium and phosphorus absorption which facilitates normal immune system function as well as for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth and improved resistance to certain diseases. And so now I take Vitamin D supplements regularly as well as a host of other supplements to help my body function more efficiently and keep me well.
So while I’m all for the current surge in DNA testing and DNA travel, I hope that people who have an interest in their ancestry and heritage will also utilize the other deeper findings of these kits toward their own wellness and ongoing well being.