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How Our Bodies React to Various Diet Forms

Different people are likely to have different responses to the same diet because of the interplay between genetic makeup, environmental factors and lifestyle choices.

Our body's response to nutrition is like a game of poker. Our genes are the cards we were dealt at the beginning of the game, environmental influence is the table we play on and our lifestyle is how we choose to play our hand. Different people are likely to have different responses to the same diet because of the interplay between genetic makeup, environmental factors and lifestyle choices.

The Role of Genetic Makeup

Our genes weave a complex matrix of interactions that determine our body's ability to deal with spikes of sugar in the blood, absorb nutrients or store fat. There are more than 300 genes identified to take part in controlling our metabolism. Since genetic makeup varies between individuals, two people going on the same diet might get very different results. Just imagine a person carrying a genetic variant that enables him to have a faster metabolism making him lose weight faster.

The Impact of the Environment

Identical twins are people who share the exact same set of genes. However, studies done in the 1970s, showed that identical twins, separated at birth and brought up in different foster families, had big differences in body mass and health. These studies exemplified the impact of environmental factors and lifestyle on weight and health. Or in other words what, when and how we eat matters. 

The Microbiome and its Significance

Another factor is our microbiome or our “second genome” as termed by some. The microbiome is the collective community of bacteria and microorganisms which live on and inside our body (predominantly in the gut). These bacteria have been shown to produce vital metabolites, regulate our immune system (avoid allergies) and even affect our mood. Diseases like IBD and Krohn's have been linked to an imbalanced microbiome. Recent studies show that our microbiome can modulate our glycemic response. People with a certain microbiome type (or composition) will have a better ability to metabolize certain food items. Every food or lifestyle choice we make resonate with our genetics and environment to create a cumulative effect on our weight and health.

Finding out a Diet that Works for You

Nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance (like thyroid disease), Anemias, bad sugar responses are all very common in India. People who suffer from these conditions have a much higher chance of gaining weight because their metabolism is affected and is forced into storing energy as fat. 

A good way to keep tabs on how well our we playing the metabolic “hand” dealt with us is through a blood test. Our blood is the highway of information of our metabolism and has over 3000 parameters that can indicate our metabolic state. Luckily, only 40 to 50 such parameters can give actionable insights to our nutrition and health. For example, a blood test can tell you which food you need to consume to resolve a nutrient deficiency. Nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin D, B12, and folic acid have been linked to weight gain besides being detrimental to health in general. Hormonal conditions such as hyperthyroidism and PCOD have also been linked to weight gain and the development of type 2 diabetes. 

These deficiencies and conditions can be detected with a blood test and acted upon before starting a diet. Personalized diet plans can then be made to fix the impaired function of your specific metabolism. This is why getting an insight to our metabolic state before starting a diet can make us infinitely more effective in reaching our nutritional goals.


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