Is the best diet written in your genes?

Updated on Jan 31, 2022 06:12 PM IST

DNA-based diet and fitness plans prescribed after full genetic testing is fast catching up with health enthusiasts. Read on to find out how it works

DNA-based diet and fitness plans prescribed after full genetic testing is fast catching up with health enthusiasts
DNA-based diet and fitness plans prescribed after full genetic testing is fast catching up with health enthusiasts

Can a ketogenic diet be beneficial or harmful for you? How often should you fast, if at all, to shed a few kilos? Will exercise be more essential than food choices if you want to lose weight? The answer to questions like these may lie within your genes. Genetic testing is fast catching up with fitness enthusiasts as the next big thing to maintain a healthy weight, by understanding our DNA.

“Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule which creates the genetic structure of our body. Testing your DNA can identify certain genetics that may put you at a greater risk for hereditary diseases, identify how your body responds to foods and thereby guide you to make changes that lower inflammation and disease risk,” says Zamurrud M Patel, CDE, RD, chief dietician, Global Hospitals, Mumbai.

What is a DNA-based diet?

These diets are based on nutrigenomics, the study of the relationship between nutrition and the human genome. Examining one’s DNA can help determine which diet would be most appropriate for one’s health. “A genetic test is undertaken to determine the correlation between a person’s genes and nutrition level for their overall health. This info is primarily used by experts to pinpoint the best diet for them. Nutrigenomics is a wonder by which we can even correct cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 1 diabetes and other lifestyle diseases,” says Dr Nishant Tanwar, HOD, dietetics and nutrition, QRG Super Speciality Hospital, Faridabad.

Nutritionist Lovneet Batra further explains, “Your DNA can influence not only your food behaviour, but is also capable of altering the expression of various hormones and enzymes critical to metabolism. These determine your response to diet, predisposition to weight gain and metabolism.”

How is it done?

A simple swab from your cheek can reveal amazingly detailed information about the ideal diet for you. Your DNA is analysed, looking for small variations in particular genes. The results are used to generate a report about which gene variations you have, including genes for lactose intolerance, celiac disease, coffee sensitivity, fat sensitivity and carbohydrate sensitivity. “The analysis helps to create a customised diet that considers factors like genetic makeup and mutation, blood group, health, and family history of diseases,” adds Aman Puri, nutritionist, Steadfast Nutrition.

Fitness enthusiast Jashan Bhumkar, who got his genetic profiling done recently, shares, “I got an overview of the exact composition of 42 fitness-related genes in my body. It explained my abrupt weight gain and weight loss and how it was impossible for me to gain muscle. I found out that I have slow twitch muscle fibres, which explained my excellent endurance in HIIT, sprinting, strength training and a whole bunch of activities. It also revealed my lactose intolerance (gene LCT) and I finally realised why I always felt miserable all day long after drinking a tall glass of milk.”

Is it helpful?

“You’re probably thinking, is this diet just another marketing scheme or should we take it seriously? Customising a diet is always better than following a generic one. After all, how likely are you to stick to a diet that forces you to eat things you don’t like or eliminates all foods that you love,” advises Shobana Mahansaria, fitness and wellness expert, Core Fit Plus.

Benefits

It improves sleep schedule. “Sleep routine largely depends on lifestyle, diet and the body’s response to other external factors. DNA testing may help you determine what works best to put your body at ease,” says dietitian Aysha Salmani from Sharda Hospital, Greater Noida

It reduces the risk of cardiometabolic diseases. “DNA could play a major role in reducing the risk of getting such diseases,” adds Salmani.

It decreases the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and heart attack. “Your fitness DNA tells whether your body is best suited for aerobic exercises or cardio. It gives the blueprint of your body for an optimal workout,” adds Dr Tanwar.

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