Life Style

Setting your table according to your genetics: nutrigenomics

Coronary disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, neurological imbalances… If you have a genetic predisposition to one or more of these diseases, do not fear as diet programs specifically tailored to a person’s genetic make-up can actually reduce your chances of becoming sick, as well as help you lose weight if you are overweight.

Genetic scanning tests are becoming more and more widespread. These are tests that determine the genetic predisposition to certain diseases in people, with the results from these tests allowing people to take precautions that can wind up being life-saving. So, is it possible to lose weight more quickly and with longer-lasting results from these tests? According to Doctor Arzu Gökmen, a nutritional expert and dietician from Medical Park Göztepe Hospital, the answer is “yes.” In addition, these tests will help people to alter their eating habits in a way that might sharply reduce their chances of getting diseases or chronic illnesses which they might otherwise be genetically predisposed to.

Possible to lose weight three times as quickly

In medical literature, eating according to your personal genetic make-up is called “nutrigenomics.” Used as an official term for the first time in 1975, due to recent advances made in genetics and more knowledge about nutritional molecules, the whole topic of nutrigenomics has become a much-debated area of interest.

Nutrigenomics is a branch of medicine which explores the links between nutrition and the genetic differences that play a role in diseases. Said Gökmen: “A scientific study had examined a group of women who were all on the same diet and found that some had lost 15 kilograms while others had gained five kilograms. Looking at the results, the people who administered the study wondered about the differences between these women.

“Following this, a study at Stanford University shed some light on how the genetic differences between people determined the types of diets that helped people to lose weight more easily. For example, those with a tendency to lose weight easily on low-carbohydrate diets have a genetic make-up that helps them lose weight three times as quickly on such a diet compared to those without these genes. The same types of discoveries were made when it came to people who lose weight more easily on low-fat diets.”

How does the system work?

Genetics can account for extreme differences in the way people from the same community, or even the same family, respond to what they eat. This covers not only weight gain or loss, but also tendencies for obesity, cancer, coronary disease and so on. At the root of all this is genetics. Gökmen said it is for this reason that she directs her patients towards the genetics unit of her hospital. The doctors in this genetics unit ask patients to take specific tests. After a report is generated on the patient’s specific genetic make-up, this report is then sent to nutrition and diet experts who prepare nutritional programs for these patients based on their genetic profiles.

Nutrition and tendencies towards specific diseases

All of these nutritional programs are of course specific to the patient. For example, if a particular patient has a predisposition to coronary disease or obesity, a nutritional program based on this can be prepared. Someone with a genetic tendency towards heart disease needs to stay far away from foods that include high levels of saturated fat, butter or margarine and fried foods. In the same way, people with genetic dispositions towards heart disease need to consume legumes two or three times a week and fish at least twice a week.

Those with genetic predispositions to diabetes need to stay far away from sugar and sugary foods, as well as baked goods made from white flour, or even rice. Their eating habits also need to change, with a focus on eating five to six smaller meals during the day instead of three larger ones. Fruit juices and carbonated drinks should also be avoided entirely. Finally, people with genetic predispositions to cancer need to drink three glasses of green tea a day and make sure they are eating vegetables and fruits which are in season while prepackaged, readymade foods should be avoided.

Gökmen notes that these suggestions are just general ones tailored for people with tendencies predispositions to diseases. In other words, nutritional programs are prepared in accordance with genetic reports. For example, a person with a genetic disposition to diabetes but who is not very sensitive to a high-carbohydrate diet does not need to greatly limit the amount of carbohydrates consumed.


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