Is your DNA making you eat too much?

dietandnutrition_Aug13_AIs the amount you eat imprinted in your DNA? According to some research in the field of nutrigenomics it might be! However, if weight and genetics are linked, so is weight and lifestyle and what you eat and the way you eat is not out of your control. What this new area of study perhaps paves the way for is a more holistic approach to diet, exercise and lifestyle for individuals and can show how this interplays with their genetic propensities.

If the idea of your DNA governing aspects of your weight makes you want to resign yourself to caving into cravings for takeouts, then do not despair. This area of nutrigenomics is relatively new and is by no means suggesting that individuals do not have any say in what they eat or on how much weight they gain. Instead, the influence of our DNA on weight is not only interesting but could lead to a more well-rounded strategy towards weight-control and weight-loss in the future.

Weight is influenced by over 300 genes

According to DNAlysis, a South African company looking at state-of-the-art molecular technologies for the health and wellness markets, they believe that over 300 genes have some input in your weight status. These include such areas as metabolism, taste, hunger, fat absorption and even responsiveness to exercise. For anyone who has ever blamed their genes for not being able to lose weight, these latest ideas do support that theory to an extent. However, there is also evidence looking at how diet and exercise can impact your genetics too. There is so much we still do not know.

What can I do to control or lose weight?

As we discussed last month, much of the western world at least is eating way too much and also the wrong types of food. Think sugary snacks high in fat! This increase in sugars and fats in recent years is perhaps less about genetics and more about the prevalence of convenience foods which are anything but when it comes to our health. Cutting down on portion size and what types of food you eat is less about willpower and more about determination to follow a sensible eating plan with some top tips to help:

  • Make it a rule to not eat late at night when your metabolism is slower.
  • Don’t scoff down large forkfuls of food but take smaller bites instead. This helps digestion and slows you down so that your body can let you know when you are full.
  • Don’t follow any trend diets that are not sustainable. They may have some impact on weight in the short term but you may end up putting on weight in the long run.
  • Become food conscious. So many people don’t even give what they are eating much thought beyond whether they are tempted by it right there and then. Be aware of salt, sugar and fat content. Are less expensive brands costing you more in health?
  • Know your weaknesses. If you have a strong sweet tooth this may be genetically influenced. However, if you know this is your dietary Achilles heel then banish candy from the house so you are not tempted. Likewise, if carbs are your downfall, as they are for so many, then look for alternatives to add to the carb mix, such as using big mushrooms instead of burger buns. And while you are at it, make that burger a grilled and healthy homemade one!

Next month we will look at some more great alternatives to help carb-lovers.

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