Did you know that a DNA test could help you improve and fine-tune your diet? You might have been yourself a victim of many failed attempts at dieting, experiences the frustration and de-motivation that ensues when we try so hard to kick off the pounds and they just will not budge.
One really funny saying that somehow brings a smile but strikes some truth for those frustrated dieters is “my body is not a temple but a maximum security prison for fat”.
The move today is towards customized medicine and health and genetic tests are a part of this. So how could a diet DNA test help you succeed and shift the weight?
Losing weight is not simply about eating less, exercising more and overall eating fewer calories than you consume. Studies by geneticists and other scientists in the field have started viewing things on a genetic level. It is not only so much about how much food you eat but rather which foods you eat. It is not you who decide which foods are right for your body but rather the gene sequences encoded in your chromosomes.
So how can a diet DNA test help me?
The genetic links are strong. Think about it: Why do some a group of people following the exact same diet have such different results? Why do some people eat so much and yet remain twiggy? The answer is that our genes account for much of what makes different people vary so much in weight. Gene variations from person to person, known as SNPs (an acronym for single nucleotide polymorphisms), are what make each of us unique.
Your genes dictate how able your body is to metabolize and breakdown certain foods. Certain foods might be incompatible with your genes. They might be slowing down your metabolism down or causing your body to store them as fat rather than burn them off. The results of a diet DNA test will help create a diet that is specific and complementary to your genetic profile.
Do you find yourself eating a lot of sugary foods? Well if so you might actually have the GLUT2 gene (glucose transporter type two), a gene which makes you crave sugars. This might be crucial to explaining your eating behavior and tendencies.
What about coffee? A drink loved and consumed regularly by millions? A DNA test could actually tell you whether caffeine is slowing down your metabolism, causing blood sugars to remain in your blood stream and interfering with important metabolic processes.
Typically the results of the test will help allocate the best diet, which will be one of four:
- low in fat: your diet will include very limited fats, a higher portion of proteins although still moderate and the highest intake of carbs
- low in carbohydrate: here you will be recommended a high protein diet with few carbs, especially refined ones or flour derived products. Rice and potatoes will also be eliminated. Your intake of fat will be of around 40%.
- low glycaemic: For this diet it is certain types of carbs that will need to be reduced or entirely wiped out. Usually breakfast cereals, oats and barley are well suited. Potatoes are diminished and pasta and rice form the smallest part of the diet.
- healthy balanced: the type of diet here will be a bit more specific, depending on for example, whether you are found to be lactose intolerant.
You might be surprised to learn the eating a diet high in healthy polyunsaturated fats like oily fish might actually be making you gain weight because your body cannot metabolize this molecule. The same may apply for carbohydrates. With carbohydrates, a DNA test could make you discover that you are celiac. Celiac disease causes damage to your metabolism not to mention considerable weight gain. Although you might have suffered from some of the symptoms associated with celiac disease, you, like many other people, might have been wrongly associating these with something entirely different.
How is the test carried out?
The DNA test is carried out using just a simple oral swab. The company sends a DNA test kit inside which you will find the sterile oral swab you need. All you need to do is rub the swab inside the mouth for around ten seconds and the let it air dry. Once in the laboratory, your genetic profile will be extracted from your swab, your gene variations studies and finally a diet will be created to suit your specific genes.
One final word: whilst diet DNA testing can help determine the most appropriate diet it is not the be all and end all. Nutritionists and scientists themselves acknowledge there is still a lot of research that needs to be done in the field and that the tests today available, although useful, still need to be scientifically fine tuned and improved.
Helen Burns works in the field of genetics and biotechnology. In her free time the author enjoys writing on a variety of topics. Helen Burns regularly writes article for the DNA testing website knowledge base for easyDNA Ie. The author lives in South London with her husband and daughter.