What Secrets Does Your Saliva Hold?
September 9, 2015 in Weird News
You have a powerful fluid in your body that can tell you how stressed out you are, discern where you come from, and even give you a picture of your overall health. Surprisingly enough, the process of finding this information doesn’t involve blood, needles, or other often-frightening medical equipment; the fluid in question is, quite simply, spit.
A person’s saliva holds a figurative treasure trove of information about him or her, but what’s most beneficial about it is that saliva is both easy to collect and inexpensive to analyze. Read on for some surprising facts about what you can learn from your saliva.
Ancestry and DNA
What’s your story? A relatively new (but already highly sought-after) phenomenon, saliva-based DNA testing is now available from Ancestry.com , one of the internet’s most popular sites since its inception. This service, which was unveiled in April of 2015, has the potential to connect millions of people to their genealogical pasts – simply by spitting into a tube. By comparing your DNA to a database of almost a million other samples, the folks at Ancestry can trace your lineage through either parent to help you fill in any gaps in your family tree.
Other DNA-testing sites have been cashing in on human curiosity, but for another reason. By submitting your saliva for DNA testing, you can find out what genetic markers you carry. Genetic markers can have a number of implications, including a heightened risk of developing a particular disease or disorder, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis. It can also give you a sense of the genetic disorders you might pass on to your children. Either way, genetic testing can be a hugely useful tool when it comes to taking health into your own hands.
Stress and Hormone Levels
The adrenal glands are an integral part of the human endocrine system. Located right above the kidneys, the adrenal glands are responsible for managing your stress levels based on the hormones they secrete – primarily cortisol. Cortisol shows up readily in human saliva, making saliva testing for adrenal hormones a simple and reliable process. Again, all you need to do is spit into a tube and let the technicians do the work.
Measuring cortisol levels can help you learn about biochemical imbalancesyou may be experiencing, such as insomnia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, and others. Obesity and diabetes are also often concurrent with hormone imbalances. Improperly balanced cortisol concentrations may also lead to a weakened immune system, which can also be examined with saliva testing.
Speaking of the immune system, saliva testing can also reveal major food allergies. Some of the most common allergens include gluten, milk (especially the protein casein), egg, and soy. By monitoring antibody and other immune responses to these foods in the saliva, technicians can often pinpoint allergy triggers. Allergens provoke unique responses in different patients, however, so you may need to supplement your saliva test with a skin prick test or other form of allergen analysis.
If you have a communicable illness, your saliva – as with other bodily fluids – is crawling with pathogens. A sputum test can reveal conditions like pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), because the mycobacteria that cause the disease have a unique cell coating that retains dye.
Additionally, researchers at UCLA have seen that saliva testing may have even more capabilities, allowing scientists to diagnose and treat deadly incommunicable diseases early on. These include oral, gastric, and pancreatic cancers, molecules of which appear as readily in saliva as they do in blood. According to recent findings, RNA – the “messenger” that carries out DNA’s instructions to the rest of the cell – also shows up in saliva tests, in hundreds of previously unknown forms.
Saliva testing is accurate, affordable, and convenient. With new scientific research regularly coming out, we’re learning more and more about all the secrets saliva can hold – as well as how we can use that information in new ways.