I was reading two fantastic articles discussing nutrigenomics – how nutrients interact with our genes to produce health and disease. Despite the massive promotion of “low-fat” food labels, as a society we have seen the rapid increase in the prevalence of increased weight, obesity and obesity-related health conditions. There are many studies which suggest how lipogenesis, the production of fat, may be regulated in people. It is thought that more than 20 genes are involved in regulating fat storage, appetite, the ability to process glucose and energy use.
When it comes to our waistlines, a protein specifically secreted from our adipose (fat) tissue named leptin is often cited. Leptin is a protein which is transported to the part of our brain known as the hypothalamus. It is significant in the discussion of weight reduction and maintenance because its binding of specific receptors in our brain affect neuro/endocrine signaling and elicit the feeling of satiety after a meal. What we know is that food intake is controlled in part by inhibitory signals such as leptin; when this signal diminishes, this signals our body that it is time to eat.
When you gain weight, your lepin signaling becomes distorted. In addition to this, your body becomes resistant to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas, and keeps your blood glucose at normal levels by moving it from the blood stream into the cells of your body. Conditions such as diabetes arise when your body becomes resistant to insulin, or does not produce enough insulin, meaning you need more insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This creates a somewhat vicious cycle – you may be recommended to take more insulin to regulate your blood sugars, gain more weight as a result, and need more insulin use.
As your Naturopathic Doctor, nutrigenomics is one important component of your treatment plan that we examine. Signals such as leptin and insulin affect your ability to turn off your fat genes and reduce your waistline so you can swap your “fat jeans” for your “phat” jeans.
“Phat” – urban dictionary, meaning cool, trendy.