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DNA and Your Diet- What’s The Fuss About?!

Are you a chronic dieter, constantly trying to lose weight yet never quite reaching your weight goal?

How often do you go to the gym with a training partner, partake in the same exercises, but do not see the same results?

Do you have a pharmacy in your bathroom cupboard, treating all your ailments, and have you ever spent the time unpacking the possible reasons as to why you feel the way you do?

Why must these all be questions and why do we continue to guess?

Whether you are looking to reverse chronic illnesses, improve your sports performance, optimize your energy levels or balance your weight why not get the missing pieces of your health puzzle and optimize your health in a personalized way so that you can make sustainable changes.

DNA, genetics and nutrigenomics

Lately, there is a buzz around topics such as DNA testing, genetics, nutrigenomics and the interconnected role food and genes play in our health and longevity.

The first question I asked as a cautious, traditionally trained dietitian was, is this just another fad and where is the scientific evidence? As I slowly study the overwhelming research that has been, and is currently being developed in this still-growing field of genetics and genomics, I can assure you that this is not a fad, but very much a fact, and a very useful one at that!

Understanding your genes and how they may impact on how you digest certain nutrients, whether you are more prone to certain diseases, how you respond to different exercises or whether your genes affect the way you lose weight is like having a blueprint to your health. One, where understanding the environment in which you’re building, can help you proactively manage for the best possible outcome. It’s just a matter of knowing what to change.

As Dr Yael Joffe, a Registered Dietitian and Translational Nutrigenomics expert, explains, “One of the problems with Westernized medicine and nutrition is that we often tend to focus on diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer. These diseases develop over time because of an interaction between our genes, our diet and our lifestyle choices. If, however, we were to look at ourselves on a deeper level and check out what our cells and systems that run our body were doing and try to intervene in any processes that weren’t functioning optimally, then we may be able to prevent these diseases from happening in the first place.

DNA and genes: quick biology class recap

To better understand how our genes are involved in determining our health outcomes as well as how they interact with the foods that we eat, let me quickly take you through a biology recap:

Cells-a mini universe:
Every one of your body’s trillion cells is like a mini-universe on its own. Each cell is made up of 46 chromosomes – 23 pairs inherited from your mom and 23 from your dad. These chromosomes are made up of strands of DNA, which in turn are made up of short segments of genes.

Genes to proteins:
Genes contain the code, like a set of instructions, needed to make the building blocks which form the ever so important proteins in our body. Your genes are your architects for life, designing the blueprint that decides which cell will turn into muscle or bone and what function they will have in the body. The way that your genes design your proteins is what contrasts and maintains you.

Genetic variations, mutations and SNPs:
99.9% of the DNA sequence of every person is the same. The 0.1% difference in our DNA sequences is what makes us all unique. These differences come about when there are changes in our genetic coding, almost like a spelling mistake in our blueprint. When a variation in the sequence of a single gene results in serious disease that impacts the whole body, it is known as a mutation. These occur in less than 1 % of the population and include genetic disorders such as sickle cell anaemia or cystic fibrosis.

Other genetic variations, which occur more commonly, are low impact and known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), pronounced snips. These variations work in combination with other SNPs to create our differences such as hair colour and eye colour. Some of these variations have no impact on our health but some help explain why we are more at risk for developing certain diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or being obese.

Mutations cannot be modified through changes in our environment like diet, exercise stress and not smoking. SNPs, however, are variations that occur in most of the population and can be modified and controlled by such environmental factors.  This is a considerable difference.

It is important to remember that having variations (SNPs) in any of these low impact genes is not a diagnosis for a disease, but by changing your environment you can significantly reduce the impact that any of these genes have on your health – isn’t that so empowering?!

DNA tests – getting your blueprint

By doing a DNA test, which only requires a simple mouth swab, a trained practitioner can get your results showing all these low impact genetic variations (SNPs) and assist you in deciding what changes you can make to your environment and diet to improve your health.

Imagine taking your genetic blueprint and adding to it your medical, familial, dietary, emotional and clinical history. With a complete blueprint it is far easier to connect information and build realistic and sustainable health changes- your health building will be a much stronger structure, and you can determine how to build it.

With nutrition being one of the most important environmental factors that can both affect your health and be controlled, I see great value in this sprouting area of science. I have never felt more enthusiastic and stimulated by the ever-growing evidence and how closely our genes, environment and the foods we eat can affect our health and longevity.

So, maybe it’s time to turn to your genes for some answers as to why you don’t fit into your jeans! Let’s start looking at our body with a more holistic view and start shifting the way we think about food.

Nourish yourself to the sunrise.

Written with love ,
Sunrise by HM

Nourished yet? Comment on what I should write about next?

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