Understanding DNA is complicated, especially when genes are all identified with numbers and letters. So even when we attempt to make DNA nutrition and fitness simplified, it can still be a bit overwhelming. But I will give it my best attempt in this article today.
We all know that our diet plans and fitness routines can significantly influence our body’s physical abilities and performance. But have you ever considered, to what extent do they affect our bodies? Not to mention if we could make DNA nutrition and fitness simplified would it make a difference? I am going to simplify it for you today and I do believe it will help.
For example, how much carbohydrate should you take in, if at all? What kind of workout training can help you achieve your goal? It turns out; these answers can vary greatly depending on your DNA, the protein strands inside your cell, which contain genetic information. This genetic information can influence our nutrition and health in several ways – some of which we will simplify below:
Although carbohydrates get a bad reputation, there is no doubt that they play a vital role in your body. Sugars are generally associated with energy, speed, stamina, and even concentration. They break down into glucose, which works as the primary fuel of the body. But how much carbohydrates should we consume? Your genes can have a lot to say about that.
Some research is dedicated extensively to the study of variation in blood glucose levels in response to your intake. Studies show the changes in blood glucose levels vary greatly depending on individual postprandial glycemic responses (PPGR).
PPGR is the glycemic response your blood sugar levels have to the food you take in. The Glycemic index is simply a scale of 1 to 100 given to each food to determine its effect on blood sugar levels. These responses are dependent on several genes present in our body.
For example, we associate variants in the UCP3 gene have with insulin resistance. Our bodies produce insulin when we take in food. This gene can tell if your receptors are resistant to insulin and if they utilize insulin well.
People with the presence of the G/G genotype in the UCP3 gene showed better results in losing weight in a low-carb, high-protein diet than those lacking this genotype.
Similarly, the IRS1 gene, a gene that is concerned with the reception of insulin, is also responsible for determining your diet. Women with T allele present in the gene showed a lower risk of diabetes, whereas women missing this allele had a higher risk.
In addition to this, genes also determine how our body responds to carbohydrates. For example, there has been scientific evidence that suggests variants of the APOE (Apolipoprotein E) gene respond differently to glucose. Due to their variation in response, they found carriers of the APOE4 gene are better suited for high-carb, low-fat diets, whereas carriers of the APOE2 gene will find a low-carb, high-fat diet more appropriate for their needs.
The bottom line is we can determine with DNA testing is you need a low carbohydrate diet or a high carbohydrate diet to promote weight loss.
Genes do not only affect your carbohydrate diet but your fat intake as well. And fats are pretty crucial for your body too! Fats give your body additional energy, protect your organs, regulate your body temperature, assists in cell growth, and produces hormones.
Genes have a critical part in determining our fat intake and response. The IRS1 gene that we previously talked about does not affect only women, but men too. When men take in a lower-fat diet, men carrying the T allele were less susceptible to type 2 diabetes than those without it.
Similarly, fat diets can also influence our body’s clock gene, and hence our circadian rhythm. A study in 2013 showed that a low-fat diet produced lower insulin levels in the clock genes of carriers containing the A/A genotype, whereas there was no difference noted for others.
A clock (CLK) gene affects our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm is our sleep/wake cycle, which affects our internal metabolic processes. What this means is there have been scientific findings that our circadian rhythm has hereditary components and is affected by our fat intake.
Much like carbohydrates, genes determine our response to fat as well. Studies suggested that a genetic mutation in the LIPC (hepatic lipase) gene can determine our response to fat.
From the Framingham Offspring Study, researchers concluded that high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the “good” kind of cholesterol – were lower among people who carried the T/T genotype, even after consuming large amounts of fat. On the other hand, people lacking the T/T genotype had a higher concentration of HDL, even at low-fat diets, and the HDL level increased with an increase in fat intakes.
Your genes may say that you will lose weight better with a high-fat diet. The critical thing to remember here is just because you can consume high-fat foods does not mean it is right for your arteries and heart. A consultation with a certified nutritionist is so vital. A plan to assist in weight loss is also a plan to improve your health.
Lactose and Gluten
Much like carbohydrates and fat, genes can also influence your response to other foods, and in severe cases, restrict you from consuming some types of products.
For example, more and more people are becoming lactose intolerant, which prevents them from ingesting dairy. Your body uses the lactase enzyme to break down Lactose Mutations in the LCT (Lactase) gene can interfere with the breakdown of lactase in your body. People with this issue would have to take in an over-the-counter Lactaid enzyme or refrain from ingesting dairy.
Similarly, celiac disease is a genetically predisposed disease that prevents people from consuming foods with gluten such as wheat and barley products. Consuming gluten can cause nausea, fatigue, gut irritation, and joint aches.
Research has shown that whether a person will be affected by celiac disease depends on the HLA DQ gene, which is responsible for producing antigens and known as an autoimmune disease.
An autoimmune disease happens when your body decides that some organ within you is a threat and sets up a type of reaction to that normal body part. It is not actually a reaction, but it is the easiest way to explain it because your body then attacks that body part and begins to break it down. The cause is unknown at this time.
Power training is high-intensity exercises performed over a shorter period. A person who has a power bias is likely to respond better to activities shorter in duration but requires high levels of effort, such as sprinting and weightlifting. Several genes are associated with an individual’s power response, determining their success in power training.
One of the most common genes extensively researched for sporting performance is the ACE gene. The ACE gene is responsible for producing enzymes that control the blood vessel expansions and contraction, and thus our blood pressure.
The D allele of the ACE gene has been significantly associated with anaerobic performances in athletes and also responsible for an increase in muscle volume. Studies have shown that D allele is present in most professional European short-distance swimmers and sprinters, giving them the necessary enhancement for the sport.
An allele is simply the part that causes a mutation in a gene. Often mutation is thought of as a deformity or problem, but that is not always the case. A mutation can change a gene and make the DNA sequencing unique to you and your needs. As you will read here, the mutation can make a difference in your athletic ability and set you apart from your competitor.
Another widely studied gene is the ACTN3, which is responsible for encoding the protein alpha-actinin-3, a protein you will only find in type 2 muscle fibers. These muscle fibers can cause quick and robust muscle contractions and are associated with muscular strength—just another key factor for power sports such as sprinting, swimming, and soccer.
Research has shown that there was a lack of the X/X genotype of the ACTN3 gene amongst Greek track-and-field athletes, Finnish sprinters, and soccer players in the Spanish league.
Your power response and strength are written in your DNA. Your results can help your trainer plan your training to enhance your attributes.
On the other side of power, training lies endurance training, which is the low-intensity physical activity performed over a more extended period. A better endurance response means that your muscles would be more suited for repetitive work or more extended training. These types of training require more oxygen. These include activities such as marathons and cycling.
As discussed previously, the presence of the D allele in ACE genes gives you an advantage to power and strength workouts. On the other hand, if you possess I allele instead, there is likely to be less ACE activity, which means you’d be much more suited for endurance sports. An excess of I alleles are present in dominant mountaineers, long-distance runners, and rowers.
Another gene often associated with endurance sports is the PPARGC1A gene. Following exercise, this gene causes mitochondrial biogenesis, which allows the production of new mitochondria within the muscle cells. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, and variations of this gene have shown higher production of mitochondria allowing you to use up more energy and increase your aerobic capacity.
While we are on the subject of mitochondria, you may have wondered what does a mitochondrial DNA test show? I don’t want you to confuse a mitochondrial test with a DNA test. Laboratories perform a mitochondrial DNA test on a smaller scale than a DNA test. The mitochondria are actually analyzed to help determine different medical conditions and determine the severity of specific ones. But the tests we perform are on all pairs of DNA in your body.
We do the DNA testing here at DNA is the Way to determine what nutrients your body needs either for the absorption of vitamins and minerals or weight loss. We do not identify disease processes.
We can see how variations in your genes can influence your physical response to the food you intake and the fitness program you follow.
We can also see that simplifying your DNA is a daunting process. Therefore we leave most of it up to the lab who does the DNA sequencing. They know how to read a DNA test and return the results to us in lay terms that are easy to understand. The reports we receive are incredibly helpful with an explanation for each finding and recommendations to help with your unique needs.
It is always essential to understand what your DNA can say about you and what the labs are analyzing. DNA testing, analyzing, and understanding your genetic profile can help us determine the ideal nutrition plan and fitness routine for you.
Were you aware your DNA had such an essential role in your health and fitness? I would love to hear from you. Please leave all questions and comments in the comment section below.