Are your Genes making you fat?
Your genes play a role in your dietary habits – more than you think
Nature Vs Nurture? It’s the age old question. If I were to ask you, do you think your genes affect your dietary habits, what would you say?
Though most of us are not aware of it, our genes play a large role in our appearance, behaviour and physiology. According to new research, the relative amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat that people choose to eat may be influenced by genetics.
If you understand the link between your eating habits and your key genetic data, you can benefit from this knowledge and use it to Live Better Longer.
We’ve all been there and done that. Attacking cookie after cookie when cramming for exams without even thinking. Could your genes be playing a role here?
As you may have already noticed, emotional eating or ‘comfort eating’ is triggered by emotional states like sadness, anxiety, depression, loneliness and boredom, rather than hunger.
Emotional eating involves the reward centers of the brain that encompass ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters like ‘dopamine’. Most people are familiar with eating for comfort or reward. Some can overcome the urge while others find it more difficult. Genes that are linked to our reward systems in the brain have a part to play, in some cases making it more challenging to overcome.
Obese And Overweight
Obesity and overweight are two terms we hear often. In fact we are hearing it more and more as the obesity rate continues to increase. It has become a common problem for many of us. Why do you think that is?
The ‘Thrifty’ Gene
So called ‘Thrifty Genes’ are the genes that are involved in fat storage. If we go far back in time when mankind was much less developed, many people died from famines. In those times the thrifty genes protected us and improved the odds of survival, which is why these genes have been passed on through many generations.
Present day, however, is another story. Currently we have plenty of food and so there is no need to store extra fat for periods of famine.
Having certain variations of ‘Thrifty Genes’ can lead to excess fat storage and therefore obesity, when food supply is plentiful.
Or, maybe it’s the ‘Fatso’ Gene?
The FTO or ‘Fatso’ gene and its counterpart MC4R are strongly correlated with a risk of being overweight or obese due to their effect on hunger. The risky variants of these genes leave people feeling hungry even after a meal. They control the hunger hormone “ghrelin”. This can drive a desire to eat high fat, high sugar foods, like biscuits, cakes, pastries, cheese and fast foods, to combat the hunger. The good news is the if you do indeed have these genes, you can turn them down, or off with exercise.
Nature vs Nurture?
So we have discussed ‘nature’ and the impact of certain genes in relation to obesity and being overweight. It’s important that you don’t just put the blame on genes and this is where ‘nurture’ comes into play.
Fats, Carbohydrates and Protein all contribute to delivering a healthy diet.
Understanding how nutrients work, identifying the better ones and avoiding the others will help you achieve a better diet and a healthy body. Check out our article on Nutrition Balance and start practicing healthy eating and exercise habits and you’ll be able to change the way your genes perform.