From genes to stomach fat and popular diets – our sports and nutrition expert Urška Ahac explains how genes can be your allies, what impacts your physical health, and how that is reflected on your weight.
Urška, how much of the weight management is food and how much exercise?
A healthy weight is a consequence of a healthy body. And we can have a healthy body if we focus not only on nutrition or sport. Those are just two of the factors influencing our weight, along with sleep, stress, genetic predispositions, and a healthy gut and endocrine system.
Because all those factors are closely connected, they all need to be optimal. In order words, – we shouldn't neglect any of them.
Is there a general formula for healthiness, regardless of our genetic predispositions?
Yes, of course. World Health Organization (WHO) prepares global health guidelines, but if you read them, you quickly realise that they are very general. They don't provide much support for people who are so very different from one another.
That is why knowing our genetic predispositions is crucial for the understanding of how our body functions and what it needs. It can help us personalise our lifestyle, which brings the most significant benefits.
Some people can eat anything and remain thin, while others are "punished" for the slightest transgression. Can we influence that, and how?
The fact is: the more active you are, the more so-called transgressions you can commit. But regularly indulging in unhealthy foods will leave an impact on your health. Even if you look fit, that does not mean that your internal ecosystem is in peak condition.
How much does DNA contribute to the risk of disease and how much our lifestyle?
How much we can predict from our DNA differs for each gene. Similarly, each predisposition – be it sport, nutrition, or any other – has a specific "strength" or likelihood that this particular trait will be expressed.
At GenePlanet, we select the genes and combine analyses that have been extensively proved by science. By following the newest trends, we also adapt the existing analyses according to new scientific findings.
But not everything is in our genes. Someone might have eaten, exercises and lived differently than their genes indicate for a long time. This way, the environment has contributed to the changes already evident in the body. This interaction between genes and the environment is called epigenetics.
When you consult with a customer, how does it look like? Do you check if they follow their recommendations?
Each of our customers has a chance to individually consult our experts. Along with their results, we also look at their goals and wishes, which help us design a strategy specifically for that person.
We do not check on their progress, no, because it's not up to us. If they want to improve their health and wellbeing, they will do it automatically.
Our role is to give our customers as much information as possible. We believe that knowing the 'why' behind the 'how' is crucial for people to really understand why what we say is good for them.
So what is the practical value of DNA test results?
By knowing our genes, we understand, for example, how our body absorbs micronutrients and if we might be predisposed to lack any of them.
So if someone's predisposition shows a potential lack of zinc and/or iron, we advise a piece of dark chocolate. People like the fact that they can indulge in a little treat.
And we can do it regularly as long as we understand our body and keep in mind that health is not just a consequence of a healthy plate.
Do customers ever say that they've already suspected some of the things that the test revealed?
If often happens that people's results match actual experience from their everyday life. But they also admit they often weren't aware of the fact until they saw it written in their results.
This is, of course, good for us because it confirms that we do our work well.
What do you think about popular diets – keto, LCHF, 16:8, and so on? Do you recommend any of them and why?
GenePlanet's nutrition experts have a unified opinion regarding diets – they are only recommended for people who need to avoid specific food because of health reasons.
If a customer has trouble metabolising lactose, we advise lactose-free nutrition. This way, we avoid potential inflammation and other inconveniences which might – in the long run – lead to serious health problems.
Aside from that, we are not proponents of any extreme diet and think they do more harm than good.
Why do fats start accumulating in certain areas as we age? Especially our stomach!
Fat accumulation in the stomach region can be linked with the hormonal state and your body's stress levels. That is why we have great results advising and helping people to regulate stress and improve sleep.
As women age, they accumulate fat in the stomach area because of the hormonal changes brought about by menopause.
So, there are many reasons that your waistline might be expanding, and the most likely culprit is food. But even people with perfect nutrition can face this problem, and in that case, they should consider other factors.
Is there a food that benefits specific areas of your body?
No, there is no such thing. No food will contribute to or prevent fat from accumulating in a specific area.
If you go crazy on calories and your body will have to store the excess as fat, it will do so evenly throughout your body. It will also leave a mark on the inside!
On the other hand, there is a combination of foods that will give your body a complete set of nutrients it needs. We can create delicious and balanced meals with the nutrient ratio supporting our personal needs. You can discover those with our Lifestyle DNA tests.
If we give it what it needs, our body is happy. And a happy body is a healthy body!