You Are What You Eat: Genetics and Metabolism

It’s a widely known fact that our genes have an influence on our metabolism, but recent studies have also proven the opposite to be true; that is, the nutrients we consume may have an effect on genetic activity.

In the study, which was published mid February in the journal Nature Microbiology, an international research team led by Dr. Markus Ralser of the University of Cambridge manipulated metabolites (the products of metabolic reactions) in yeast cells. Yeast cells have cellular mechanisms that are nearly identical to that of human and animal cells. After evaluating the resulting behavior of the yeast cell’s genes, they found that 90% of the genes and the molecules they produced were influenced by changes to metabolism.

Here’s the simple explanation: our genes could behave completely differently depending on the nutrients we consume. In a news release regarding the study results, Dr. Ralser pointed out that “cellular metabolism plays a far more dynamic role in the cells than we previously thought…nearly all of a cell’s genes are influenced by the nutrients they have access to.”

This new information is just one of many reasons that nutrient intake is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight. It’s certainly tempting to blame your genetics for low metabolism, weight gain, or both, but the reality is somewhat more complicated. Metabolism is determined not only by your genetic makeup, but also by your diet, physical activity, hormones, sleep, and stress. Some medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome can result in a slower metabolism, but only a very small percentage of overweight or obese Americans have been diagnosed. The likely cause is usually insufficient nutrition, exercise, and other preventable lifestyle factors.

Maintaining a balanced diet is one of the most effective ways to avoid obesity, vitamin deficiencies, a lowered metabolism, heart disease, diabetes, and even extending your lifespan. The guidance of an experienced nutritionist can help you get back into a pattern of healthy living and eating—contact ZendyHealth to save up to 40% on a nutrition consultation near you.

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