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Weight loss is a phrase that’s on many people’s minds at the moment, especially given it’s the start of a new year. Burning off those calories and ‘losing that holiday weight gain’ are messages that you’re probably seeing in your Facebook and Instagram feeds right now, not to mention on your morning television programs, and just about everywhere else you look. Diet ads are creeping not-so-slowly into your news and social media feeds, and many of you may have already made a New Years resolution to lose weight and get fit. In fact, it’s probably not the first time you’ve made that resolution. So, why is it always the way? We start a diet or exercise regime only to flounder after a few weeks or see the weight return after we’ve settled into our new routines. The answer could be your DNA, and in today’s blog article we take a closer look at the science behind DNA and nutrition: Nutrigenomics.

Nutrigenomics is a relatively new science, brought to the attention of many health professionals and researchers at the turn of the 21st century. In the last couple of decades, scientists have begun to uncover the many links between DNA and nutrition, exercise, and weight loss. What’s clear is that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of this quickly emerging science. Below are a few of the things we know so far.

Obesity genes are a REAL thing

Do you come from a family who all struggle with their weight? Or perhaps you’re one of those people who’s never had to worry about weight gain, no matter your diet or lack of exercise. One thing you’ve probably noticed amongst your friends, family, and the wider community is that despite the diet industry’s messaging that weight loss is simply a matter of following a strict diet and getting more exercise, some people seem to struggle a lot more than others. Finally, nutrigenomics gives us some of the answers.

We now know, for instance, that there are several genes that have an influence over your likelihood for obesity. These are by no means fully understood, but what the research has taught us is that whilst these are not necessarily a life sentence to being overweight, they do contribute! In short, the more of these obesity genes you have, the more likely you are to carry excess weight and furthermore, the tougher it may be for you to shift that weight – despite dieting and exercising.  

The research has also found that there are three key triggers for obesity genes which, if you carry these genes, puts you at a higher risk of obesity. These are saturated fat, fried foods, and sugary beverages. Interestingly (and perhaps unsurprisingly) the same people can often overcome these triggers and the risk of obesity by sleeping better, exercising more, and even drinking more coffee! The trouble is in knowing which of these triggers affects you, and what kind of solution will work for you.

Your DNA affects how effectively you lose or gain weight

Although diets (and many doctors!) would tell you that a one-size-fits-all diet is the way to go for weight loss, you know that not to be the case. If you’ve struggled with your weight, you know only too well that some diets simply don’t work for you, or that no matter how much time you spend on the treadmill, you don’t lose nearly as many inches as you’ve been told to expect. The fact is, if we all dieted and exercised in exactly the same way, we would still all look completely different. That’s because we all have a unique set of DNA, and, as the research is continuing to show, this makes a huge difference to how we experience weight loss and gain.

The good news is: Thanks to nutrigenomics or ‘DNA profiling’, we are unlocking the tools to help you manage your diet and exercise according to your genes – and have far greater success with weight loss.

There are a few key factors that researchers have uncovered so far which may affect your weight. The first of these concerns protein. In 2012, scientists found that people who possess a particular variant in the obesity gene FTO had better success in losing weight on a higher protein diet. Again in 2012, researchers discovered that people with a certain variant of the TCF7L2 gene tend to lose more weight on a low-fat diet. And finally, in 2016 it was revealed that variations of the FG21 gene predispose some people to have greater success in weight loss when following a low-carbohydrate diet.

So, have you ever wondered why those low-carb diets don’t work for you? Or why reducing your fat intake or sugary drinks don’t seem to have the impact you’d hoped? The answer could be in your genes, waiting to be unlocked.

Epigenetics and your potential for healthy changes

One of the most crucial aspects of nutrigenomics is something called ‘epigenetics’. This term refers to how the environment and your behaviours can affect the way your genes work. Epigenetic changes can affect your gene expression, effectively turning ‘on’ or ‘off’ certain genes. This is a powerful new area of study has given us much hope in regards to how our lifestyle, diet and environment can switch our ‘bad’ genes on or off.  So, although you might have several of the genetic markers for obesity present in your DNA, or have a genetic predisposition for regaining weight for example, epigenetics opens up possibilities for changing the very way your genes work to overcome these built-in genetic hurdles and achieve long-term successful weight loss.

Maintaining your weight loss

For some of us, losing the weight isn’t the real issue. It’s keeping it off. And this is another area of interest for researchers in nutrigenomics. The research has shown that your genes also play a part in your ability to maintain weight loss, or, more specifically, your likelihood to regain weight after you’ve lost it. As the science progresses and more research is done, the health field will begin to understand more about weight loss, weight gain, and weight maintenance, and have greater success in helping people to reach their weight loss goals. For now, we’re helping our clients to unlock their potential for weight loss by integrating the advanced science of nutrigenomics into our holistic health and wellness programs. After all, health is about much more than simply losing weight!

Our weight loss programs

At Integrated Health Specialists, we understand that weight loss is only one factor in your health, fitness, and wellbeing journey. And whilst your genes play a silent role in your likelihood for obesity or with struggles losing weight and maintaining your weight loss, there are many other important aspects. These include your conscious and subconscious minds; your habits, beliefs and behavioural patterns; and your lifestyle (including diet and exercise). That’s why our weight loss programs incorporate each of these important aspects and are tailored to suit your unique circumstances.

If you’re ready to say goodbye to the one-size-fits-all diet and exercise programs, discover your genetic links to weight loss, and finally unlock your true potential for health, fitness and wellbeing, reach out to us today.

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen