Sunday , August 14 2022

What my DNA told me about what I should eat


Avoid fast food, eat vegetables and exercise. It sounds like generic health advice, but they've probably been tailored to my DNA profile.

The suggestions come from 23andme, one of the companies that offer you reference to eating habits and best practice for your genetics. As with most diet plans, the idea is appealing because it implies that there is a difficult reason why you can't get a shape – in this case, your genes.

But Isaac Kohane, a biomedical researcher at Harvard, said research in the field was still limited and there is little evidence that small effects of genetic variation can be translated into meaningful dietary advice.

"On the whole, these don't give much value to the people who buy them," he said, adding that other factors play a much bigger role on health, like how much do we t eat it.

Still, it's tempting to think that your DNA holds clues to your ideal diet. To see what my genes could reveal, I tried two services, 23andMe and DNAFit.


If you pay $ 99 for a 23andMe father report, you can spend $ 125 more for its health reports based on the same saliva sample.

Additions include several well-being reports, including one that predicts your "genetic pressure" and offers other dietary insights. These findings are based on comparisons with data from other 23andMe customers.

After adjusting the default setting of European origin to East Asia, my report said I was prepared to take stock "on average." For a 40-foot 6-year-old woman, the company defined an average of 138 pounds. 23andMe states that most of its customers are of European origin, and that its data for other ethnicity is more limited.

Then the report lists 10 practices that are associated with a healthy weight for your DNA profile. For me that included limiting red meat, avoiding fast food and practicing at least twice a week. Given how formative it sounded, I wondered how many different results there are for others.

It turns out that everyone has the same 10 habits, because that's the 23andMe ones who decided to survey people about. But the order in which they are listed varies to show the extent of their perceived impact to you. Alisa Lehman, a senior scientist for 23andMe, said that the two main practice for most people is to limit red meat and avoid fast food, as they were to me.

Like many other nutritional studies, the findings don't establish a case-and-effect relationship, but whether the contacts the company makes between customer genes t and survey results.

Overall, these don't give much value to the people who buy them.– Isaac Kohane

Other welfare reports said that I was more likely to be lactose intolerance (check), to flush when drinking alcohol (checking) and to eat less caffeine (check). They were more interesting because of their specific nature, but nothing unexpected was revealed. Another report said that my weight of saturated fat, common in meat, is not likely to affect my weight.

The only surprise was that I had a genetic variation "common in elite power athletes." However, when I followed the link, however, I saw about half of customers having the same variation.


For $ 99.99, you will receive a saliva collection to produce reports on a variety of fitness and dietary features. If you have your DNA file from 23andMe already, you can download it to get instant results for $ 79.

DNAFit says its reports are based on the wider universe of scientific research on genes and diet.

Given the general fear of carbs among many dietists, I started with the report "carbohydrate sensitivity". It started with an overview explaining the difference between complex carbs such as brown rice and charbs that have been refined as sugar that are spent faster.

After scrolling down, the report said I had a “very low” sensitivity, which meant I was less susceptible to sugar and sugar. Despite this carb tolerance, I suggested that I limited carbs to refined them to 10 percent daily calories. Again, this sounded quite generic advice and made me think how much the recommendations varied for others.

One report referred to the risk raised by the correspondent for DNA damage from uncharged meats. (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

Andrew Steele, head of DNAFit products, said that the recommended limit for refined carbs ranged from 6 to 10 percent of total calories depending on people's sensitivity. For someone who eats 2,500 calories a day, that ranges from 150 calories to 250 calories.

Although that doesn't seem like a big difference, DNAFit's notes would cut back from 10 to 6 percent meaning a 40 percent reduction. Still, the relatively tight range reinforces the idea that dietary advice would be generally consistent regardless of your genes.

Another report said that my sensitivity to saturated fat was low, and suggested limiting it to 10 per cent of calories. DNAFit said that the range for that recommendation was also 6 to 10 percent.

Other reports were more nutrient specific. One said I had an increasing need for omega-3, the fatty acid that lowers cholesterol. Another said I had a higher risk of DNA damage from meats that had charcoal and should restrict them. (This advice was provided over an image of a steak lit by a candle.)

On the fitness side, the reports said that I was more prone to endurance activities than intensive activities. I don't know if I consider this if I start exercising. Others have questioned the accuracy of the fitness reports, which rated one Olympic aerobic potential as a "medium."

DNAFit and 23andMe say that knowing that your genetic predisposition can motivate you to stick to diet or exercise habits. You may also have specific reasons for wanting to try the services, especially 23andMe, most of which have the ancestor tests and provide many other reports. But for me, the findings of both felt too broad to influence my habits.

One small note: DNAFit is based in the UK, so if you decide to try it, you may notice a small cash exchange fee on your credit card statement.

The Department of Health and Associated Science is supported by the Scientific Department of Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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