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Gene in Focus – ApoA2May 23, 2016
We are all different. From the colour of our eyes to the ability to curl our tongues, our genes have a profound effect on our appearance and our health. Research is now proving that genetics can also control the way we are able to process food and the impact our diets have on our health.
The new and developing science of Nutrigenetics aims to identify genetic susceptibility to diseases and the ways in which very small difference in our genes can alter the effects that nutrient intake has on the body. By understanding and analysing these variations, specific dietary and disease prevention advice can be given based on personal genetic makeup.
Genetic science is developing rapidly and we are moving closer to a system of healthcare focused on preventing disease based on individual risk instead of simply responding to problems as they arise.
The genetic difference
Our individual genetic make-up controls what we can and can’t digest, our tendency to gain weight, absorb important nutrients and cope with toxins. By knowing our individual tendencies we might be able to stop uncomfortable symptoms, prevent obesity and fight disease.
You may have noticed that some people appear to be able to eat whatever they want, while others have to constantly battle the bulge? It could be down to genetics. A ‘thrifty’ gene may make some people prone to weight gain when they eat a high fat diet. Other lucky people can rapidly process carbohydrates, allowing them to happily enjoy plates of pasta without putting on a pound while many of us bloat at the mere taste of a crisp. By analyzing these differences it is possible to design a nutrition plan that is tailored to the individual’s health needs.
Nutrigenetics can test individual abilities to deal with lactose from milk and process caffeine and alcohol, allowing us to choose our drinks with care. We also have different capabilities to absorb important micronutrients such as such as Vitamins B, C, D and E and Omega 3 fats, which help protect us against cancers, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative conditions. Knowing this can help us boost our nutrient intake to protect our bodies.
DNA tests can also identify those predisposed to diseases including type 2 diabetes, coeliac disease and high cholesterol levels which can lead to cardiovascular problems. This may seem frightening but forewarned is forearmed, allowing individual’s to modify their diets and prevent the condition developing.
So why does it matter?
Research at Stanford University demonstrated that individuals lost significantly more weight following a diet based on their DNA profile, compared to a traditional weight loss methods. The study found that those on a diet that matched their genotype lost two to three times more weight over twelve months.
A large study has also shown that those carrying the genetic mutation for diabetes who were on a low-fat diet, were almost three times as likely to have a stroke, however they could neutralize their risk by choosing a more Mediterranean diet rich in nuts and olive oil. What you eat, really could save your life.
Nutrigenetics alone won’t determine future wellbeing. Genes really only provide a tendency not a destiny. The most important thing is to eat healthily and make the right nutritional choices for your genetic make-up. This way you can stay healthy and optimize your fitness.