DNA Testing and Food
Often we hear people blame their obesity on their genes, but can DNA testing help people understand what foods they need in their diets? Can it help them lose weight and achieve the goals with regards to their health and wellbeing? The answer is “yes”. Science has made huge leaps forward in this field and random, trial and error diets are on the way out as DNA testing begins to help people come up with diets that complement their genes.
DNA Testing and Diets
Some people will do almost anything to be thin, especially with the latest debates over the so-called ‘size zero’ models on one hand and growing obesity on the other. This being the case, is it just social pressures and psychological weaknesses that make us thin or fat, or can we blame our genes? DNA testing can certainly reveal a gene that's responsible for obesity with the right environmental triggers. It can also help us determine whether we are more likely to binge, helping us understand our genetic food triggers. Another factor is how your body metabolizes certain molecules found in food – for example, someone might be less able to process polyunsaturated fats. DNA testing can also reveal what diseases we are genetically vulnerable to.
Controversy Over Diet-related Genetics
Internet based DNA testing services which offer personalised diets to suit a person’s genetic make-up have been causing some controversy. DNA testing has plenty of genuine and valuable uses such as establishing paternity or tracing ancestral heritage, and in science and medicine DNA testing can be crucial in detecting genetic diseases. With regards to diet DNA testing, studies have reinforced the fact that these tests can help in weight loss and this field, known as nutrigenomics, has been proved to work over and over. That said, people expect miracles and don’t realize that any balanced weight loss programme is going to be hard work. Getting a DNA test done is only part of the solution – the rest is in commitment and hard work.
DNA Testing Kits
‘Nutrigenomic diets’ have been marketed as eating plans that are suited specifically to one person’s genes, but some believe this type of DNA testing kit to be misleading. DNA testing kits can be sold at a cost of up to £1,000 via the internet, with a promise to advise on which foods to avoid in reducing the risk of certain diseases. Although research has suggested links between genetics and vulnerability to disorders worsened by certain diets, no research has yet proven that food can protect you from a disease which your genes make you vulnerable to. However, someone who discovers a high genetic risk of prostate cancer can begin taking measures to reduce their risk – cut down their fat intake, cut down their dairy intake and also regular prostate examinations.
Regulating These Tests
Ongoing investigations and testing will hopefully discover if diets based on DNA testing can be effective. The Centre of Genomics in Society at the University of Exeter is looking at the potential need for regulation of the marketing of ‘nutrigenomic’ DNA testing for diets.
Some Wild Claims
Some claims are farfetched - you may read even about DNA tests wild and fantastic claims, such as making your children more intelligent, finding your ideal partner based on genetic compatibility and so forth. Yes, there are some tests out there which are not worthwhile and have not been scientifically researched.
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