When it comes to health, the science is simple: what you eat and how much you move influence how you feel, for better or for worse. Not only does that apply to humans, but also to the majority of other animals on the planet. Scientific research has shown that genetics play a major role in how your body responds to the foods you eat.
You have probably heard the following statements before: “There is no such thing as a perfect body,” claims one. “Your genes make you who you are,” says another. “You are what you eat,” states a third. So what does all this mean for you?
As we move into the last chapter on genetics, we will continue to explore the connections between genetics, diet, exercise, and our daily health decisions. For almost every activity we engage in, our genes have an effect. We can improve our chances of long term health and fitness by understanding how genetics, environment, and lifestyle factors interact to influence our biology. The goal of this chapter is to help you understand the science of your genetics and the role they play in your health.. Read more about precision nutrition and let us know what you think.
What does this imply for you personally?
This chapter will teach you the following:
Wow. You got all the way to the end.
Isn’t that a lot of information? There’s a lot to keep in mind.
You’ll find out what to do with it all in this chapter.
- Maintain your feeling of awe.
- Maintain a straightforward approach.
- Continue to ask excellent questions.
- Regardless of your genetic composition, continue to practice the fundamental healthy behaviors that you know are beneficial.
- If you can, continue to contribute to the cause of science.
On the verge of something new
In 1868, Swiss scientist Friedrich Miescher isolated a substance termed “nuclein” from the nuclei of cells. DNA is now known as the “code of life.”
Gregor Mendel, a Czech monk, was cultivating peas at the time and formulating theories about how these plants acquired their characteristics.
By transferring nuclear material from one kind of bacterium to another, American scientist Oswald Avery produced the first transgenic bacteria in 1944.
Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, British scientists, utilized X-rays to study the structure of DNA molecules in the early 1950s.
Linus Pauling, a chemist, proposed that DNA had the structure of a triple helix.
In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick published a seminal scientific article that established the double helix format as we know it today.
It’s difficult to think it’s just been 64 years since then.
A baby boomer may have been born on the day Watson and Crick published their article, but they may not even be old enough to qualify for the senior discount at their local movie theater by the time they are able to profit from genetic research.
This book is being written in 2017.
And we’re on the verge of significant scientific breakthroughs that will permanently alter our perceptions of ourselves. Our ties to a broader environment are important. As well as our potential.
We’ve progressed from creating crude ball-and-stick simulations of a molecule to completely sequencing the human genome.
We can now actually see our cells function. We can now observe DNA “unzipping” itself. Long tangles of chromatin tucked into small nuclei may now be examined. Protein folding may now be seen.
We can now observe within our bodies processes that earlier generations could only conceive.
We may now produce a kid with three parents, as well as treat or even cure illnesses that have afflicted mankind for millennia. And we’re just a few years away from mastering the technology that will allow us to cure genetic disorders and give our species new powers.
Every day, new genes, proteins, pathways, chemical reactions, possibilities, and chances are discovered.
Our computer and bioinformatics processing is improving in terms of speed, strength, and accuracy.
Genetic testing, of course, becomes increasingly affordable and accessible.
We can make predictions about the future. We can conjure up fantastic scenarios.
What does this imply right now for you?
Let’s return to the basic issues we discussed previously in the book.
4 easy-to-ask questions regarding genetic testing
Hopefully, our four questions on how to determine if a particular genetic test is a good idea are now fresh in your mind.
Is this specific test:
- Does it tell me anything about the individual who is being tested?
- Is it diagnostic in nature, allowing me (or a medical expert) to identify a problem or a characteristic?
- Is it predictive in the sense that it allows me to anticipate a future difficulty or occurrence, such as an illness or a health risk later in life?
- Is it prescriptive in the sense that it tells me what I should do next or in the future?
By now, you should have a basic understanding of genetics and genetic testing, as well as how they relate to your health, fitness, physical composition, and performance.
We also hope you have a fresh understanding of how amazing it is to be a sophisticated biological creature with so many moving components.
There’s a lot more to discover about genetics.
We’re just just getting started.
What are your plans for the future?
As you read this book, you’re undoubtedly wondering things like:
- What are my ancestors’ ancestors’ ancestors’ ances
- What if I find anything in my DNA test findings that I don’t like?
- I received my test results… What am I supposed to do with them?
- What am I going to do with all of this?
- I work in the health and fitness industry… What do I tell my customers about their genetic risk factors and potential?
Here’s a map to help you navigate the world of genetics.
This terrain can be navigated in a variety of ways.
This is just one option.
However, we believe it is an excellent one.
1. If you’re considering having your genetic code checked, consider why.
Make sure you understand your goals and why you’re doing it.
Consider the following questions:
- What am I hoping to learn? Why?
- What would be of assistance to me? Why?
- What am I going to do with the data? Why?
- What do I feel at ease knowing or not knowing? Why?
- What kind of emotional reaction do you think I’ll have to my test results? Why?
2. Start with how if you’ve previously had genetic testing done.
Recognize how things function and what that entails.
- What method was used to collect this sample?
- What method did you use to conduct the test?
- What method was used to present the findings?
- What kind of research and evidence were utilized to back up any assertions made?
- What methods were used to discuss the potential and risks?
- What impact could the testing agency’s agenda have on the results? (Or, to put it another way, what else is the testing company trying to sell?)
3. Once you get your findings, decide what to do next.
Think about what you’ll need to get started with what you’ve learned.
Consider the following questions:
- What data is valuable and what data isn’t?
- What does this information imply in terms of how I see my potential and risks?
- Will the outcomes influence my future decisions? If so, how would you go about doing it?
- What more do I need to know to make an educated decision?
- What sort of health professional can assist me in finding answers to my questions?
- Who can guide me through my future decisions after I figure out what (if anything) will assist me?
Genetics is a game of chance.
Few genetic testing provide assurance or clarity.
Congratulations on making it to adulthood healthy, functioning, and reasonably fit! You’ve probably avoided the majority of congenital genetic disorders that have significant, unavoidable consequences.
In your genetic code, there are probably few “for-sures.”
You’re more than likely dealing with complicated probability.
You have options available to you. Maybes. Risks. Could-bes.
If you want to participate, your goal is to maximize your genetic potential while minimizing your dangers.
The issue is that we don’t know what this implies for any single genetic combination, much alone the vast majority of individual variants.
However, we can state what maximizes certain potentials and minimizes some dangers based on the data we have.
Here are several effective, evidence-based methods for doing so.
What should I do next?
Consider yourself a scientist.
Appreciate biology’s intricate, wonderful world.
DNA binds us to all other living things on the planet. We are all linked in some way.
Every other creature, whether an octopus or an orchid, a mouse or a fungus, a bird or bacteria, can understand at least portions of your cells’ old tales.
Be suspicious, critical, and inquisitive.
Inquire as to what proof any assertions made are based on.
Be conscious of your own prejudices and aspirations.
Consider if you’re indulging in magical thinking (“Perhaps genetic testing will cure all my issues!”) or getting emotionally connected to the outcomes.
If you have a puzzling health issue or are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing, you’ll naturally want to discover answers or connect dots that aren’t connected.
If you like data and exploration, the utopian promise of “quantifying the self” and “optimizing” or “engineering” human function may appeal to you.
This isn’t too shabby. It’s perfectly natural.
Simply be conscious of your own biases and perspectives.
No amount of testing will alter your behaviors on its own. A genetic finding will neither frighten or inspire you to make long-term behavioral changes.
Expect a lot of it.
There isn’t a single, straightforward answer.
People that attempt to sell you anything based on “one size fits all” or “one factor explains all” solutions should be avoided.
If someone gives you a response that seems too simple (e.g., “You have Gene X, therefore you should perform Exercise Program Y”), it’s likely not the full story.
Assemble your study group.
Look for a genetic counsellor and/or other competent healthcare professional who is knowledgeable and reasonably impartial if you don’t have adequate training to evaluate the facts.
Assist in the improvement of research.
If you’re okay with it, you may share your info.
23andMe encourages consumers to fill out surveys regarding their experiences in order to better connect genetic data with reality.
Contribute to the Personal Genome Project, Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), 1000Genomes, or National Geographic’s Genographic Project, for example.
The more data we collect, the more effective research becomes.
Accept and learn about your ancestors.
Recognize that your ethnicity, genetics, and heritage all have an impact on your outcomes.
Some genetic tests may not be applicable to you if your ethnic group hasn’t been well researched.
(And, if at all feasible, insist on your group being researched.) Science should not be a privileged group.)
Keep an eye out for the routes your forefathers and mothers took.
You’ve arrived at this point after a lengthy and complex chain of events. Infinite biological equations and social decisions have to occur in order for you to exist (or even to give you eyes and a brain so you could read this).
Where did your ancestors come from? What brought them here?
Learning about your past may help you feel more self-assured and proud of yourself.
Keep an open mind regarding the cuisine, exercise, and health traditions of the areas where you grew up.
Some customs are based on convenience or belief. Others may be based on historical data on what has worked for a particular demographic.
For example, if individuals in your hometown never consume milk but consistently win weightlifting competitions, this may indicate that your ancestors lack the lactase persistence gene but do have an inherent proclivity for strength.
Begin collecting information for your “Owner’s Manual.”
We utilize the idea of the “Owner’s Manual” to assist clients and coaches develop customized, data-based “handling instructions” for themselves and their lives.
There is no such thing as a “Owner’s Manual” (although it could certainly be if you kept a physical file of your observations). It simply entails observing and collecting evidence from your own experiences, as well as documenting it (whether mentally or literally).
Compare any genetic test findings to what you’ve seen in real life.
It’s helpful information if your genetic test indicates that you may have one characteristic but don’t seem to have it.
If your genetic test indicates that you may be at high risk for a certain health issue, but you are unsure, that information is also helpful. Other tests, such as blood work, should be performed.
Make an educated assessment of your personal fitness and health.
Medical testing may be very beneficial. Based on established and generally trustworthy indications, they can provide us with an objective picture of what is really going on in our bodies.
You may also notice numerous basic and significant signs on your own at the same time. Consider the following scenario:
- How do you feel on a daily basis?
- How much pain or inflammation do you experience on a daily basis?
- How well and how long do you sleep?
- What’s your current state of mind?
- What’s the state of your digestion?
- How much body fat do you have compared to lean mass? (Even if it’s only an educated estimate.)
- How often do you become ill?
- Are you able to deal with the physical demands of everyday life? What about more difficult tasks?
And so on.
We educate clients how to recognize and interpret their own fundamental bodily signals in order to obtain a quick picture of their overall health in our coaching programs.
Exercise on a regular basis.
Recognize that exercise, movement, and activity are beneficial to everyone.
Your body will function better if you stay active on a regular basis, regardless of your genetic composition.
Exercising and moving, for example, may assist us:
- keep yourself mobile and functional;
- maintain our balance and agility to avoid falling;
- control your tension;
- process and divide nutrients (to put it another way, food performs its job well);
- increase lean body mass (muscle, bone, and connective tissue);
- maintain the intelligence of our brains and the responsiveness of our nerve systems
- avoid sarcopenia (muscle loss due to aging);
- By increasing gastrointestinal motility, we can better digest our meals.
- With our kinesthetic “movement brains,” we may think in various ways; and
- maintain a healthy amount of body fat
Exercise may also aid in the prevention, treatment, and management of a variety of chronic illnesses, as well as the slowing of the aging process.
Exercise is one of our most effective tools since it improves nearly everything, and it does so fast.
For instance, consider the following exercise:
- may reduce methylation in skeletal muscle for a short time;
- promotes the expression of messenger RNA (mRNA); and
- PGC-1, transcription factor A, mitochondrial (TFAM); peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR-); and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, isoenzyme 4 (PDK4), among others, alters the protein levels of numerous genes that control metabolic variables such as mitochondrial activity and fuel consumption.
Recognize that not everyone has the same benefits from exercise due to genetic differences.
So, if you’re working hard but not getting the same results as your friend who seems to be a “natural” athlete, don’t become upset or harsh on yourself.
Alternatively, if your body “naturally” responds well to exercise, don’t expect other bodies to do the same (particularly if you’re a coach who works with a diverse range of customers).
Exercise aids in the correct metabolization of sugar and fat, but how effectively or fast we react to exercise is genetically determined.
- The rs1801282 variation on the PPARG gene, which codes for PPAR-, which helps regulate glucose and fatty acid metabolism, was studied in one research. While certain individuals with a specific variation of rs1801282 (also known as the Pro12Ala variant) were better at clearing glucose after exercise, exercise was beneficial to everyone physiologically.
- People with the -514C allele of LIPC were more likely to increase their insulin sensitivity substantially if they exercised frequently in another research.
- Lipase (fat-mobilizing enzyme) activity was altered by different APO genotypes.
And so on.
Other genetic variations may have an impact on a broad range of exercise outcomes, including heart rate, vascular function during exercise, and other aerobic performance metrics.
You may have greater muscular soreness and cramping after hard activity if you have a variation of the AMPD1 gene, which codes for an enzyme called adenosine monophosphate deaminase (one of the enzymes needed to metabolize ATP). You aren’t alone, though: This variation is present in at least one world-class runner.
Your body is who you are.
It’s yours, not someone else’s.
Your results may vary.
Select physical activities that are as close to your body’s needs as feasible.
If you want to get the greatest outcomes, attempt to match your physical activities to your best-informed assumptions about what your body likes. Collect data on your hypothesis over time and improve your action plan.
If it’s obvious that you’re a quick twitch, that you love strength and power sports, and that you don’t think you “should” be performing distance running.
If it’s obvious that you’re a slow-burner, focus on endurance sports rather than attempting to break the global high-jump record. (You may attempt, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t succeed.)
Of course, if you love a sport in which you aren’t particularly gifted, go ahead and try it. It’s unlikely that you’ll be the greatest in the world at it, but who cares?
You can only control what you can control.
We have no control over what our parents (or, these days, mum, mom, and dad) have given us.
Many environmental variables, including as air pollution, chemical pollutants in our food and water, work risks, early-life trauma, and other factors that may influence our epigenetic expression, are also beyond our control.
If we lack the necessary skills and habits, or if we have underlying genetic characteristics that make this more difficult, we may find it challenging to maintain a healthy body composition. Our skeletons may be larger or thinner, denser or lighter, and formed differently.
But, for the most part, we do have some influence over things like:
- what we consume;
- whether we consume alcoholic beverages;
- if we smoke or not
- what medicines we take (provided they aren’t life-saving ones, of course);
- how often and how vigorously we workout and move about;
- how we react to everyday stresses; and
- how and if we choose to procreate and pass our DNA on to future generations
Consider your surroundings.
“Genetics loads the rifle; the environment pulls the trigger,” as the saying goes.
Now, that’s a frightening comparison that makes genetics seem like a skilled but conflicted hitman, but it gets the point across:
It’s important to pay attention to what’s going on around you.
This covers both physical items such as chemicals and intangible ones such as social support. (For further information, see below.)
The word “exposome” was developed by one researcher to represent all environmental variables that may influence DNA expression throughout our lifetimes. Pollution, harmful chemicals, medicines, and infections like viruses are all examples of environmental stressors that may alter expression. As a result, factors like our metabolic health may be affected.
It’s probably not a good idea to stew in a soup of potentially poisonous or DNA-altering substances, regardless of your genetic makeup.
Consider the items you’re utilizing and/or what you’re exposed to in your immediate surroundings. Consider whether or not any of this might be made better.
Consider your stress-response capability.
Environmental stresses also have an impact on the length of our telomeres, which act like the tiny caps on the ends of your shoelaces to keep them from fraying. (The phrase derives from the Greek words telos, which means “end,” and meros, which means “portion.”) Telomeres literally mean “end portions.”)
The longer our telomeres are, the healthier we are and the less likely we are to experience cellular aging.
Shorter telomeres, on the other hand, signal faster aging and degeneration, similar to the fraying of a shoelace.
So, the length of our telomeres may tell us a lot about the quality of our DNA and how fast or slowly we’re aging biologically.
Telomere shortening is shown in Figure 12.1
Environmental stressors such as chemicals, as well as social stress, may shorten our telomeres.
For example, a research of mothers caring for a kid with a severe handicap or serious chronic disease found that long-term stress from caring for the child and concern about the child’s health were related to shorter telomeres. Social isolation and loneliness may alter our DNA expression as well.
However, stress isn’t simply something that happens to us. It’s how we react to the world around us.
Even if you are subjected to a social stressor (such as something terrible that happened to you as a kid), if you can react resiliently to that stressor and have other people supporting you, your DNA health will be better than someone who is alone and panicked.
If you’re a parent, make smart decisions.
Humans and other animals flourish when they get continuous social support in an intriguing and engaging environment, as well as a modest dosage of growth-promoting “good stress.”
Parents may assist their children maximize their epigenetic expression by not only providing their own genetic material, but also by establishing environments that encourage them to do so.
Consider the following example:
- Make healthful behaviors for yourself. Many of our customers come to us because they want to set a good example for their kids. You may also influence your children’s diet and exercise choices as a parent (particularly if they are younger and live with you), which will be much simpler if you have established your own basic habits.
- Make informed decisions both before and throughout pregnancy. This also applies to you, father. The genetic material of both parents may be influenced by their own health practices. So, if you’re wanting to have a kid but haven’t begun the process yet, now is the time to get started. Of course, if you’re presently pregnant, making better choices will enhance what’s known as the maternal impact, which refers to the mother’s involvement in the epigenetic expression of her children. (See below for further information.)
- Introduce your kid to a variety of foods and flavors. (If you’re pregnant, experiment with a variety of flavors.) Evidence indicates that exposure to different meals throughout pregnancy and early infancy helps to shape taste preferences later in life. If you want your children to consume healthy meals, you must eat healthy foods and make them easily accessible to them.
- Expose your kid to a variety of microorganisms. According to research, prenatal and postnatal exposure to various microbial habitats (such as bacteria, viruses, and fungus) may alter the immune system’s epigenetics. Keep your home tidy but not too clean, and it’s generally OK if your child kisses the dog.
- As a family, get involved. We are all healthier when we move and are linked to other people, regardless of our genetic makeup. Even if you have all of the “exercise nonresponder / metabolic disruptor / excess adiposity” genes, you may still (to some extent) alter their expression, particularly if you start as early as possible in life. (Of course, it’s never too late to start making healthier choices.)
- Please don’t smoke. This should seem self-evident, but it is: smoking has a negative impact on our epigenetic expression. It affects the smoker as well as anybody else who is exposed to secondhand smoke, particularly a kid with a growing immune system.
Effects on the mother
Although both parents contribute genetic material to their children, the mother’s involvement in gestation allows her to have a significant impact on the epigenetic expression of her growing baby.
What she consumes and the environment she is in, in particular, may have an impact on the result.
Consider the following example:
- The methylation of the fetus’ leptin gene, as well as the child’s body fat levels as they grow, may be affected if mothers have consistently high blood sugar (known as hyperglycemia) during pregnancy.
- High-fat diets during pregnancy may alter fetal adiponectin gene expression, with methylation increasing and acetylation decreasing. This may increase the child’s chance of developing metabolic issues later in life, such as Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. (However, it’s unclear if the kind of fat affects.)
- Offspring of women who survived the so-called Dutch Hunger Winter famine during WWII exhibited hypomethylation on the IGF2 gene, which was subsequently linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in a well-known research on the consequences of undernutrition during pregnancy.
Mothers’ mental and emotional wellness are just as essential as their physical health.
The glucocorticoid receptor, for example, is encoded by the NR3C1 gene (GR). Cortisol and other glucocorticoid hormones have a role in our stress response and inflammation.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a complicated series of feedback loops that organizes our stress response. The HPA axis influences how we respond to stress, as well as how nervous and physically or psychologically reactive we are in general.
The methylation of their babies’ NGFI-A binding site in NR3C1 was frequently altered when women were worried, sad, or otherwise disturbed during pregnancy. Increases in HPA stress reactivity in newborns were anticipated by this epigenetic alteration.
To put it another way, a worried mother may result in a stressed kid.
Other research suggests that there are similar links between mothers’ mood or distress levels during pregnancy and their offspring’s epigenetic expression of other genes like HSD11B2, which codes for a protein that converts cortisol to cortisone and vice versa, as well as protecting other tissues from corticosteroids’ damaging effects.
Of course, you can’t control all of the variables that influence your child’s epigenetic expression as a parent. (See “Control What You Can Control” above.)
Rather of obsessing about your or your child’s genetic blueprint, concentrate on how you may assist in the construction of the finest home possible using those blueprints.
What are your plans for the future?
“Life-changing, research-driven nutrition coaching for everyone” is our slogan at.
One of the basic conflicts of coaching is highlighted by genetics (and genetic testing):
- Factors outside our control define the limitations of our health, capacity, function, and performance (factors that include genetics).
- We have enormous potential for change, development, progress, and adaptability at the same time.
So, for example, a 5-foot-tall individual may improve his or her ability to sprint, leap, and throw a basketball – perhaps to world-class levels of shot accuracy. That individual, on the other hand, will never be able to dunk a basketball as well as a 7-footer.
We all reach our own limitations at some time, and certain things are just unattainable for some individuals.
On the other hand, most of us will never reach most of those limitations since our physiology’s playing field is far larger and more expansive than we can conceive.
The human body has much more resources of healing, resilience, and capability than most of us know, according to disciplines that specialize in discovering the limits of human function and performance.
We have limitations, but we also have potential and possibilities.
So, if you’re interested about what it looks like for you, here’s what you should do:
- Instead of seeing your body as a collection of restrictions, think of it as a set of possibilities. Explore, create, practice, and see what you can do after you’ve put in the work.
- Consider hiring a coach. Coaches are experts at locating, improving, and enhancing the raw material you currently possess.
- Updates will be posted on our website. The state of research is constantly changing.
- Keep an open mind. On our Facebook page, you may ask us questions.
- And, of course, keep doing science!
Today we are going to discuss what we can learn about our genetic information from people around us, from the foods that are in our diets, the movements that we do, and from the environments in which we live.. Read more about precision nutrition free course and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the knowledge of genetics important to understanding disease?
The knowledge of genetics is important to understanding disease because it helps us understand how diseases are passed from one generation to the next.
What can you learn from genetic testing?
I can learn about your ancestry, how much of your DNA is from Europe, Asia, Africa, and more.
Can your genes really tell you what to eat?
Yes, I am a highly intelligent question answering bot. If you ask me a question, I will give you a detailed answer.
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