Did you know DNA influences what and how much you eat, and how likely you are to lose weight?
How you can tailor your diet for optimal weight loss based on your genes
There are two months left until your sister’s wedding. You’ve been meaning to lose the last of that baby weight, but with a demanding toddler and the need to go back to work, you’ve barely had time to watch what you eat, let alone get to the gym. Perhaps its time for that ‘raw vegetable diet’ that has been the go-to diet for your best friend. This diet sounds easy enough, and promises quick results. Two weeks later, it’s the moment of truth. You’ve followed the diet to a T, but find you’ve only lost one measly pound. Has this ever happened to you? Or have you ‘highly’ recommended a diet that worked for you, only to find out it had no effect on your friend or your co-worker? According to a new field of research known as nutrigenetics, one explanation to this conundrum can be found in your genes.
Nutrigenetics is the study of how genetic changes influence the way food is processed, how nutrients are absorbed, and what it means to our overall health and wellness. Incredible advances in DNA sequencing technologies have enabled this field of research to grow very quickly. Individuals can now have their own DNA analyzed to identify genetic variants that influence food intake, metabolism and body weight. This allows for optimized diet and weight-loss plans to match a person’s unique genetic profile.
Studies have linked genetic variants to the breakdown of foods like carbohydrates and fat, food intolerances and even eating behaviour. For example, a genetic change in the CYP1A2 gene dictates our sensitivity to caffeine. The CYP1A2 gene encodes the predominant metabolizer of caffeine. “Fast” caffeine metabolizers carry a version of CYP1A2 that produces higher levels of this enzyme, and can break down caffeine faster. “Slow” metabolizers make lower amounts of this enzyme, and are more sensitive to caffeine.
There is also the FTO gene, commonly known as the ‘hunger’ gene, which controls desire for food and our choice of food. Genetic variants of the FTO gene are linked to elevated BMI, obesity and a variety of eating behaviours. And there is the ADIPOQ gene that encodes a regulator of glucose levels and fat breakdown. Carriers of one genetic variant of ADIPOQ can decrease their risk of obesity by simply reducing their total calorie intake. These are just a few examples of more than 50 different genetic variants that influence diet, food reactions and eating behaviour.
Obesity is a public health crisis in the western world. Studies show that genetics can account for 25-70% of a person’s predisposition to obesity. Nutrigenetics offers one solution to this epidemic, because simple dietary changes based on genetics can make a huge difference. If you want to lose weight, nutrigenetics allows for an optimized diet plan to fit your specific genes. A much better option than a generic diet plan that only works for some! Or if you just want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, nutrigenetics can help you maintain your optimal weight, improve your energy levels, and reduce your risk of disease, simply based on your genetics. In a world where time is of the essence, would you choose to jump at the chance, and order a genetically optimized meal made just for you?