Genomes R Us

Fun facts about a couple of humans: Matthew: 4.9% Neanderthal & part Mi’kmaq. Petra 4.6% Neanderthal & mtDna from West Africa.

Fun facts about these humans: Matthew: 2.8% Neanderthal & part Mi’kmaq. Petra: 2.4% Neanderthal with mtDna from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Last week I reblogged a post about the MTHFR gene mutation.

In this post I’ll describe how you can get your genome analyzed.

Then I’ll tell you about some of the fun we’ve had with genomic analysis.

Mutants R Us~

We’re all mutants to some degree. But some of us have gene mutations that create a predisposition to a variety of health issues.

In my next post, I’ll consider how to use genomic analysis to determine what your predispositions to health problems might be.

This post is just fun.

Genomic Analysis

Getting the analysis done is easy: just order a kit online from 23andMe (That’s a Canadian link; Google 23andMe for other countries.)

They send you the kit, you follow their instructions, including spitting into a plastic vial. Send off your saliva & wait for your analysis.

Fun Stuff First~!


Neanderthal & modern human skeletons

Fun stuff: Your 23andMe report will tell you how much of a Neanderthal you are.

Modern humans range from 1-4% Neanderthal, with people of African ancestry having the least Neanderthal genes.

Being part Neanderthal is one of the funnest things I can think of.

As mentioned above, Matthew & I found out we are 2.8% & 2.4% Neanderthal, respectively.

You can find more information about research into the Neanderthal genome, including hypotheses about interbreeding between Neanderthals & anatomically-modern humans, here.

But your report will also scope out your ethic ancestry. Both Matthew & I discovered we were more ethnically diverse than we thought.


Blue=European ancestry; Orange='Native American' ancestry

Matthew’s genome: Blue=European ancestry; Orange: ‘Native American’ ancestry

Matthew’s genomic analysis turned up significant slices of ‘Native American’ genetic material.

After researching his family tree, it turns out that his great grandmother was Mi’kmaq.

Which makes a lot of sense to him. On a cellular level.

He had told me years ago that when he went to Nova Scotia when he was 12 he developed a strong & abiding affinity with all things Mi’kmaq, including Mi’kmaq language. I had previously attributed this to the understandable curiosity of a suburban white kid about Indigenous culture, but it turns out this recognition didn’t originate in his mind.

It originated in his genome.

African mtDna

Though my genome is less colourful than Matthew’s, being primarily the monochromatic blue that designates the British Isles (after all, my ancestors come from candy-land), with a few dark blue snips here & there from marauding Vikings, my maternal haplogroup (mtDna) is L2a1.

L2a1L2a1 originates in Sub-Saharan Africa & is the most common haplogroup for African Americans.

Through it, I can trace my matrilineal line back to an ancient time when my greatest grandmothers were African.

It’s not enough genetic material to show up as even a sliver of African heritage in my genetic profile, so it has to have been a long time ago.

Very remote, very dilute.

The only reason these ancient grandmas even show up is that between myself & them is an unbroken line of women who all survived long enough to give birth to a daughter. That’s a pretty awe-inspiring thought.

I joined a L2a1 forum online & inquired about my incongruous (white) membership in this haplogroup. Pretty quickly, someone responded:

My greatest grandma?

My greatest grandma?

There are numerous ways that L2a1 mtDna lineage could wind up in the British Isles. Roman era movement is certainly possible.  See this article: Roman remains in York are of “elite” African woman. It’s possible that she was the wife of a traveler or trader. It’s also possible that she was a manumitted slave or descendent of them. It would not have been unusual given the Roman attitude toward ethnicity/race and slavery for a slave to be freed, become a “client” of a former owner, and then  rise to wealth and status, no matter the place of origin. Of course, a Roman empire source is only one possibility. She could have reached the British Isles through that vector, or as a migrant from Iberia.

In summary, genomic analysis is fun!

In part 2 of this post, Matthew & I will dig into the health data that genomic analysis also makes available.


19 thoughts on “Genomes R Us

  1. When I do my 23andme analysis, can we compare notes?

    This was discussed in some detail at the MTHFR discussion last week – because it provides a much more comprehensive analysis. I’m fascinated by epigenetics.

    Of course, I’m also fascinated by the micro biome… SO many things to learn!

    • Let’s compare notes! The MTHFR chat on 23andMe is also quite informative. So far I’m just figuring out all the things I don’t know!

      Maybe Genetic Analysis should be a topic in the AIP Bloggers Alliance forum…

  2. Petra,
    I have a question for you about ketosis and quality salt. I feel like I am failing at ketosis, but I want to see if this will help my multi auto-immune challenges, as the auto-immune paleo has not been enough. How much salt do you have to supplement with to make sure you have enough sodium, since you loose more while in ketosis? What I seem to be experiencing is I will be in ketosis for a couple of weeks and then my heart will begin to race and mineral deficient signs will begin occurring. I become concerned and bring up my carbs to get out of ketosis, drink a bunch of homemade broth with celtic sea salt, eat foods with potassium and the symptoms go away. What has been your experience with sodium and potassium through this process and how much salt are you incorporating to keep your minerals high are you consciously adding salt to your water? Thank you.

    • Dear Anna,

      First off I want to say that I’m not an expert in ketosis, just a fellow experimenter. Second, I do not have an autoimmune condition (which is part of the reason why I’m experimenting with these protocols & reporting back, because experimentation is that much harder for people living with autoimmune, as you well know). Third, that I have never had the symptoms you describe. For myself, I use Himalayan salt liberally in all my food, but do not add it to water. I also use an electrolyte powder (which is not AIP-friendly because it contains stevia -I really wish it didn’t) whenever I do hot yoga. I tried removing it and found I had to put it back in to counterbalance all the sweating I do in the hot room. Though I do it to counteract the impact of hot yoga, no doubt it is helping to balance my electrolytes generally. As for potassium, I eat A LOT of avocados (2-4 a day) and dark green leafy plants, bone broth daily & a fair bit of salmon.

      Please let me know what you come up with as a solution, as no doubt other people are struggling with the same issue…

  3. Great stuff Petra! Fascinating that you have African lineage and Matthew Native American. I just learnt through 23andme that I have Indian relatives (to the shock of my grandparents who were certain they had mapped the family tree and it only went back to the British Isles). It’s a pretty fascinating rabbit hole to go down…

  4. Petra, thank you for taking the time to answer. I am knew to this as well and if I find a good answer, I will report back. I just joined Dr. Wahls’ 30 day quick start group and asked the question on the private facebook page today. Dr. Wahls does answer on that page and tomorrow I will bring it up in the coaching class and see if there are not some good answers to come for people that need to pay closer attention to their minerals when becoming keto-adampted. This whole bouillon cube idea that is recommend by several ketosis experts out there is ridiculous! I know you agree! Thank you!

  5. One last thing. I am good at bone broth and make a gallon each week and add Celtic salt liberally as well. You would think drinking almost a quart a day would have been enough and my diet is on par. Even with that, signs of mineral depletion in ketosis have still be an issue for me. I thought I would at least give the whole picture, as I am trying. Maybe ketosis really is easier said then done, as Dr. Seyfried has talked about in interviews. He has talked about complications such as a racing heart beat and minerals, just not given a solution. I will bring my mineral levels back up and then try again. I am still hopeful. Thank you.

    • Thanks for this additional information, Anna. Supplementation is also an option that I’m sure you have considered. Please feel free keep us informed as you work on figuring this out…

  6. Pingback: Biohacking ~Genomic Analysis | petra8paleo

  7. Dr. Wahls responded to my concerns. I thought you may be interested in her thoughts. But first, a couple things she said in her last presentation for Wahls Paleo Plus last week that I thought may be of interested as well. She is wondering the best way to go about ketosis long term. As you know, and she explained, no one really knows about this diet long term. She is wondering if it would not be benificial to stay in ketosis most the year, but then come out during the summer months to add varitety and color to the diet, then go back into ketosis once again. Recreating something more similar to historical ketosis. She is also wondering the bennifits of simply low glycemic living as she wonders for herself, would low glycemic living have brought about the same changes ketosis brought about. She did mention she loves ketosis, but she is careful to always speak of ketosis with caution. She recomened for me a possible low glycemic option, as well as intermintent ketosis and a slower conversion into ketosis. As well as epson salt, Dead Sea salt baths and sea salt to diet. And then Life Extention Super K with Advanced K2 helps with mineral utilization. Thank you for your help. I am always interested in your next post. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much Anna! These are question I have had, as well. I love the idea of coming out of ketosis in the summer. I did that last summer (for different reasons) but I think I’ll make that my plan. The salt baths are also a great idea…

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