Is the secret to obesity, weight loss and wellness hiding in our genes? Gene Food is a DNA nutrition test that helps you tailor your diet to your genetic makeup. I received a complimentary nutrition report to facilitate this article.
Historically, obesity has been a rich person’s problem. Those who could afford more food indulged to excess and their waistlines were the proof of their gluttony. But in the last 60 years or so, things have started to change. This change is due to a number of factors but largely in part to processed foods and the ability to transport them anywhere in the world quickly and easily. And now, people across the globe, including those in some under-developed nations are experiencing rates of obesity never before seen.
Weight Loss Industry
The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and is expected to exceed $250 billion by 2024. Counting calories, counting points, counting carbs, there is a plan and a fancy piece of exercise equipment being advertised to us every day. Yet, we don’t seem to be getting any healthier, we just spend a lot more money trying.
If you can imagine what it was like for people back, say, four generations or more, the food they ate was vastly different than we eat now for a number of reasons. First, it was all grown in soil that wasn’t impacted by chemical pesticides, pollution and other things that have worked to destroy the valuable nutrients in the ground. And second, it was all regional and seasonal. No one was eating food that wasn’t native to the area in which they lived.
In most cases, people were eating the same foods generation after generation. Eskimos ate mainly animal fats. The Swiss ate dried meats, cheese and bread because their mountain lifestyle provided little opportunity for growing a wide range of crops. For just about any area in the world you can identify regional dishes that were a direct result of climate and geography. Their bodies were adapted to those foods and their genetics evolved to get the nutrition they needed from what was available.
Today, you can go into a grocery store and obtain just about any type of food you want. It doesn’t matter if it was grown on the other side of the world. Plus, half, if not more, of the “food” in the stores was processed in a factory. It may have started with some stripped down version of actual food ingredients, but the end result is a man-made creation – a food product. And as more and more food products became available, they became cheaper and easier to get. So we ate more, and what we were eating was nothing like what our bodies were genetically designed to eat.
For people living in Europe or other areas of the world that have histories tracing back thousands of years, it may be easier for them to pinpoint their ancestry and focus on a diet that may be a healthier fit for their genetics. But for those of us in North America especially, it’s more of a challenge. My DNA report is a mixed up mess of different ancestry, there is no way I could even guess as to the type of diet my genes would indicate. According to 23 and Me, I am 32.5% French and German, 28.8% British and Irish and 22% Eastern European. That’s clear as mud.
Is the Answer in Our Genes?
What if the answer to a healthy weight and body is written in our DNA? What if we have been trying all these different ways to lose weight and we have had the answer inside us all along?
It’s easy to say “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” as Michael Pollan suggests, but plenty of real plant foods aren’t necessarily ideal for everyone. Wheat and higher glycemic produce for instance, may be tolerable for some and just plain bad for others. Some people might need more fiber than others. Some may need to avoid all animal proteins, some may be ok with some fish and other lean animal protein sources.
I thank that one day medical science will be able to scan our bodies, our blood and our DNA and be able to tell us exactly what we need to eat to not only maintain an ideal weight, but also to avoid disease and live longer. I believe that this science will tell some people that even particular fruits and vegetables need to be avoided or added to their diets based on their nutritional profiles and the things our bodies need. I also believe that this science will eventually produce specific, detailed meal plans that will provide the exact nutrition and calories we need for each meal.
Gene Food DNA Nutrition test
The future science that I mentioned has already started to become a reality. A company called Gene Food produces a nutrition plan for you based upon your genetics. They use your raw genetic data from 23andMe or Ancestry.com to determine which of 20 different diet types best suits your genetic makeup.
The process doesn’t take very long, you simply upload your raw data, and Gene Food provides a custom, detailed report with suggestions on the best type of diet for your DNA makeup.
My DNA indicates that my ideal diet type is California Coastal. A California Coastal diet is similar to a Mediterranean diet with a focus on whole plant foods combined with small portions of high quality animal protein. It includes healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, focuses on fiber rich carbs from vegetables and legumes and reduces dairy intake. It even gives a macronutrient breakdown that is recommended for the specific diet type.
It then goes on to suggest specific food breakdowns for protein, fats and carbs.
The DNA nutrition test report from Gene Food is very thorough and includes the following information:
- Overview of the diet type
- Recipes for your genotype
- A detailed analysis of dietary fat and suggestions for ideal blood levels related to fat intake
- Information on your specific ability to process higher glycemic foods
- Protein intake and the ideal source for your DNA type
- Additional details regarding HDL to LDL ratios, methylation and sterol absorbtion
- A breakdown of top micronutrients and the likelihood that you may need supplementation
- A list of 66 genes in your DNA (SNPs) that may have an impact on your nutrition and wellbeing (that were used to create the custom report)
I have to admit that the report was far more thorough than I expected. Some of the information, like the SNPs, is pretty detailed and scientific. It’s the information they use to determine your ideal diet, so they provide it for your information. It’s fascinating to read through.
My results are super interesting because I have been vegan for the last 6 or 7 months and found that my cholesterol got worse on a strict no animal product diet. My body may need some lean animal protein! I also noticed that the increased carbs that seemed to happen on my vegan diet (oats, rice, plant based pasta, etc.) didn’t do much to promote weight loss. So while I was eating more plant foods, my carb intake was higher from the processed grains. I don’t do well on a strict ketogenic diet (despite my love of low carb recipes), so this California Coastal diet sounds like it might be just what I need.
I’m excited to implement the suggestions from Gene Food into my own diet so see if I notice any positive changes!
If you would like your own DNA nutrition test and you have ancestry results from 23andMe or Ancestry.com, simply head over to MyGeneFood.com and order your custom report. You will need your raw data from the DNA company, which is usually a pretty quick download process so make sure you have that handy. Then it’s just a simple upload and wait for your results. My Gene Food report was ready by the next day.