We are all aware of the many inconsistencies in regards to nutrition. One day coffee is good for us, another day it’s bad. Low carb, or low fat for weight loss? How many grams of protein is optimal?
How do we distill the information that’s out there, and find what’s right for us? After all, each side of any argument says that it’s “backed by research”. This is possible because of the discrepancies that exist in research, specifically the genetics of the population being studied.
It has been known that one size does not fit all when it comes to nutrition & health. With advancements in the field of genomics, we are now able to pinpoint specific areas in our genome that can help us understand why we look and function differently.
The foods you choose to eat can affect gene expression. Alternatively, variations in your genes can affect the nutritional environment.
For example, the ADORA2A gene impacts caffeine metabolism. Individuals carry one of three variations for this gene: CT, CC, or TT. Those who possess the TT variant are more sensitive to the stimulating effects of caffeine & experience increased anxiety after caffeine intake. The graphic below illustrates this variation in 3 people - showing that person A carries the TT genotype and therefore would benefit from reducing caffeine consumption.
Beyond caffeine metabolism, research has shown significant differences in weight loss with individuals following a high-fat versus low-fat diet based on their genotype. Genes can also influence our likes and dislikes of certain foods. Certain genetic variants lead to impaired glucose sensing in the brain, which requires some people to consume more sugar before their brain feels the same satisfying effect as it would with others.
Put simply, each individual will respond to different foods in different ways. This explains why you may have a friend that can load up on bread and seemingly never gain weight. Or you live with someone who is satisfied with the smallest bite of chocolate (which is infuriating).