Nutrigenomics and You
What is Nutrigenomics? It is the study of the relationship between nutrition and genetics. What does this mean for you? Everything.
DNA is unique for everyone. While the general rules of how our body works may apply to all of us, there are tiny variances within our genes that can define certain aspects of our health. Our genes can affect how well or how
poorly we utilize the nutrition in the food we eat, or the amount of exercise that is truly effective. Each person differs in their own little way. This test is designed to tell you just exactly what makes you, you.
With the information now in your hands, you can create a personalized diet to fully reap the benefits of the food you eat, the exercise you do and the lifestyle you live.
Most importantly, you can find a hassle-free way to lead a healthier life.
DNA is the genetic material in your cells that determines your traits you inherit half from your mother and half from your father. It determines your physical appearance i.e. blood type, skin color, hair color, etc.
Similarly, DNA also influences how your body functions, i.e.,
How your body utilizes and metabolizes sugar, fats and other nutrients.
A lot of us may say, “I am naturally fat or thin”. “Even drinking water can make me fat”, “I can eat anything I want and still stay in shape” – so can our genes truly help us to understand more of these situations?
Via some selected genes, we are able to uncover the obesity risk of an individual, and that means genes can answer whether you have the tendency of being fat or not. However, even if you have relatively low obesity risk, that doesn’t mean you can continuously eat food with high calories without a cost. If you love stuffing yourself with high energy or sugary food, it will still increase your obesity risk.
Fat can store in any part of our body, but the thing that we can annoy us is Central Obesity. If your PLIN1 genes tell you that your body tends to store more fat, you will need to be aware central obesity. A sagging belly could destroy the great body shape you’ve worked hard for and trigger your health alarm.
If you tend to store fat easily, you need to be aware of central obesity.
Many women say they have two separate stomachs, one is for savory food, another is for sweet dessert. The fact is, part of the population has a set of sweet teeth and can’t avoid the power of desserts.
If your genes indicate you are a fan of desserts and all things sweet, you need to be aware of your daily diet. Don’t consume too much sugar.
Just like sugar, some people particularly crave food with fat. These people like the taste of meat and fat, and they also like deep-fried food. These may be caused by the MC4R genes, which make the body more likely to intake more fat
Most people who are dieting would always say, body weight will decrease when you consume less carbohydrates. However, if you have a certain genetic coding that is beneficial to you, this rule may not apply to you. Inversely you may need a high carbohydrate and low fat diet to lose weight.
Some may ask: “Doesn’t coffee keep you awake? Why do I feel so sleepy after drinking coffee?”. Actually, if your genes show that you tend to have faster metabolic speed towards caffeine, you may not feel awake even after drinking cups of coffee.
There are people around us whose face and body will turn red after drinking alcohol. There are two possibilities for this: maybe he or she is allergic to alcohol or the contents in alcohol, or their genetic coding gives them a slower metabolic rate against alcohol. Although alcohol may not get you drunk easily, you should be aware of your body’s reaction (like feeling unwell or sick) after drinking too much alcohol.
MUFA (Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids)
When it comes to unsaturated fatty acids, it can be divided into monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids can be found in the cooking oil and food, including peanut oil, canola oil, almonds and hazelnuts. Monounsaturated fatty acids are actually good antioxidants, which can reduce bad cholesterol damage, and can help some people who have a genetic advantage, to lose weight.
PUFA (Polyunsaturated fatty acids)
Still a form of unsaturated fatty acids, PUFA mainly helps to keep your blood vessels healthy. Everyone can benefit from consuming PUFA, however, those who have a genetic advantage will get far better results than those without.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin responsible for different functions in our body. It is one of the cornerstones of maintaining the immune system, promoting body growth, and protecting eyesight, body cells and tissues. Lacking vitamin A, the body may show symptoms of cystic fibrosis, immunity problems, dryness of skin and other health risks.
Vitamin B6 is responsible for the production of antibodies for the immune system and hormone synthesis, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which helps to regulate mood, quality of sleep and other functions of normal brain development. If the body lacks vitamin B6, there is a possibility that anemia, depression and concentration difficulties and other health risks may begin to develop.
Vitamin B9 (also known as folic acid) plays an indispensable role in the formation of red blood cells, for the prevention of anemia, and amino acid synthesis, which is the basis for producing protein and energy metabolism. A deficiency of vitamin B9 could lead to a chance of fetal injury during pregnancy period (neural tube defects, heart defects), poor body growth and inflammation of the tongue and other health risks.
Vitamin B12 is also known as Cobalt Ammonia, a water-soluble vitamin that is an important vitamin for maintaining healthy nervous systems. In addition to being a cofactor for DNA and RNA synthesis, it also helps to release the energy of the body for our own use. Vitamin B12 is also responsible for producing red blood cells to prevent anemia. A deficiency of vitamin B12 could lead to the body developing anemia, constipation, fatigue and other health risks.
Vitamin C has a variety of functions. For example, it is the main element of collagen synthesis, which is the important formation component of our general skin tissue, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels and helps us to heal wounds. Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties can reduce the internal damage caused by free radicals on our cells and DNA. Some studies have shown that it can reduce the risk of getting chronic diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, and arthritis. A deficiency of vitamin C could lead to the body showing symptoms of scurvy, bad wound healing, fatigue and other health risks.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has many important functions in our body. Its most widely known function is to promote calcium absorption in the body to help grow and maintain strong bones and maintain adequate serum calcium levels. Deficiency in vitamin D could lead to the body developing osteoporosis, rickets, muscle weakness and other health risks.
Vitamin E has a strong antioxidant function, meaning that it helps prevent free radicals from damaging the body’s cells. Many studies have found that antioxidants protect the body from chronic diseases (including heart disease and cancer). In addition, vitamin E has other functions, such as immunization, cell signaling and other metabolic processes. One of the functions is to produce red blood cells together with vitamin K. A lack of vitamin E could lead to symptoms of immune system damage, sensory nerve injury/destruction (peripheral neuropathy), muscle weakness (myopathy) and other health risks.
Metabolic Rate (Basal)
Even when our body is still, we continue to burn energy to keep our body functioning, such as breathing, digesting, and metabolism. When compared to the energy fats would use, muscle requires 22.5 times more energy (when comparing 1kg fat to 1kg muscle). Therefore, knowing your basal metabolic rate is the first step in planning your exercise routine.
Effectiveness of Losing Weight
Most people will use different ways (including diet and exercise) to shorten the time needed for weight loss and increase its effectiveness. However, not everyone can use the same extreme methods as these people to lose weight effectively due to differences in their genetic makeup.
Amount of Exercise
Exercise is a vital practice for us to keep in shape and keep our body healthy. Not only can exercise effectively burn calories from our body, it also helps deliver nutrition to every part of our body, and there are so many benefits that exercise can bring us. However, some people with genetic disadvantages may take more effort and time to achieve the same exercise results as others. This is not a reason to give up exercise though. If you put more effort on exercise, you can still change your natural born disadvantage.
Effectiveness of Exercise
There are people who are born with advantageous genes that give them an edge when they perform exercise. Their superior exercise genes improve effectiveness of losing weight allowing them to perform better and reap greater rewards with exercise or sports.
Based on the studies of over 170,000 people by the Human Molecular Genetics in 2014, we found out different fat genes coordinates would obviously relate differently to our body weight (calculated by Body mass index). However, there may be others who hold fat genes coordinates, but it is not impossible to make changes.
From the studies of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009, over 20,000 people’s fat genes are related to overweight (calculated by Body Mass Index). However, the studies have also stated that exercise could decrease this gene’s effects at a certain level.
1. Qi, Q. et al. FTO genetic variants, dietary intake and body mass index: insights from 177 330 individuals. Hum Mol Genet 23, 6961–6972 (2014).
2. Vimaleswaran, K. S. et al. Physical activity attenuates the body mass index-increasing influence of genetic variation in the FTO gene. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 90, 425–428 (2009).
Selected Scientific Research Evidence
Dr. Christopher Gardner from Standford University performed a study regarding nutritious genomes and made an incredible discovery. In the study, when 133 women established eating habits that specpfically fit their genes, their weight decreased an average of 5.2%. In contrast, women who did not have tailored diets only decreased their weight an average of 2.3%.
According to this study, people who chose to integrate nutritious genomics into their eating habits lost 100% more weight than those who didn’t.
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