Weight loss advertisements are notorious for promising you a swift and significant drop in weight when you follow a certain kind of diet or eat a certain type of food. Such claims should be looked upon with suspicion.
The business of guaranteeing a prescribed amount of weight loss is not scientifically sound, because we now know that no two individuals respond to the same food (or even drugs) in the same way. The genetic uniqueness of each human body impacts the way we process what we eat.
Surely you have encountered people who eat whatever they like, and yet don’t put on an ounce of weight, but there are also those who seem to gain more than some even upon an occasional and sparing moment of indulgence.
The one-size-fits-all formula has its limitations because we are each built with a different set of genes. Our physical traits (phenotypes) differ, as do our eating habits and levels of physical activity. The difference between two individuals begins with the genetic blueprint that we are born with. Interestingly, despite being born with a ‘code’, we can alter the expression of these genes through the medium of food.
Understanding how genes interact with the nutrients in our food has made way for the discipline of Nutrigenomics. While we tend to think of food in terms of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, these foods turn into ‘signals’ at the molecular level for our genes to respond to in particular ways.
This knowledge has paved the way for the DNA-based diet or Personalised Diet, often used for the purpose of weight loss.
But their scope is extensive – both as a preventive strategy to lower disease risk as well as to provide an effective plan for an existing disease condition. The results have been encouraging but the science is still young and several factors come into play when applying DNA-based diets for the treatment of obesity and lifestyle diseases.
Physical exercise, sleep and gut bacteria also play a vital role. The complexity of the human body continues to be unravelled slowly, which is why the more we match relevant information about the individual to the diet, the better the success rate. Diets are no magic potion, but a way of life – how it was always meant to be.
Although a great deal of new thought and research around diet therapy is taking place, some things are unlikely to change over time. One of these is to eat plenty of green veggies to prevent chronic lifestyle diseases and to maintain a healthy weight.