While everyone knows that good nutrition is one of the core tenets of a healthy lifestyle, the role played by genetics in determining the unique needs of each individual is something that is far less commonly understood. Minute differences in DNA and even medical conditions that are passed on from one generation to the next can be a major factor for how easy it is to lose weight or even how likely you are to develop food allergies. Your unique genetics can have a significant influence over your body’s nutritional needs.
Base Metabolic Rate
Your body’s metabolic function is a measure of how efficiently it is able to produce energy from the foods you eat. Those who possess a high metabolic rate find it much easier to stay thin while those with slower metabolism often find weight loss to be far more of a challenge. While working to improve your diet and getting more exercise can help to increase your body’s metabolic rate, genetics plays an important role as well. Your DNA is perhaps the single biggest factor in determining your body’s base metabolic rate.
Tastes and Appetite
Your body’s taste receptors, which are inherited genetically, can also play a major role in appetite and eating habits. Those who have a problem with overeating, binge eating or not eating as much as they need may be surprised to discover the root of the problem lies with their body’s genetics. DNA testing can turn up any number of underlying causes for eating disorders as well as factors that may be contributing to unhealthy eating habits as well as trouble loosing or gaining weight. While conventional wisdom holds that taste and appetite are largely determined by habit, choice and learned behaviors, the latest genetic science continues to produce surprising insights on the role played by genetics.
Food Allergies and Nutritional Deficiencies
Failing to tolerate certain foods or having difficulty absorbing key nutrients are also genetic conditions that may affect the nutritional needs of the body. An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system confuses a substance for an invading pathogen. These reactions can produce symptoms that range from mild irritation to a true life-threatening emergency, depending on their severity. Nutritional deficiencies occur when the body is unable to break down and absorb essential nutrients. The symptoms associated with a deficiency can also become quite severe.
Health and Medical Conditions
Allergies and deficiencies are far from the only medical conditions that genetics may influence. Having a genetic predisposition to diseases like diabetes or obesity can increase the likelihood that an individual may develop problems in the days ahead. Those who have a significant family history of nutritional diseases would be wise to keep an eye on their health. Many diseases can be prevented through a combination of lifestyle choices and medical care and those that can’t may prove to be more easily managed when addressed early on. Failing to seek testing at the first sign of symptoms or discounting the role that genetics may play in developing certain diseases or medical conditions can be a disastrous oversight.
While dietary and exercise habits can also influence nutritional needs, the influence that genetics has should not be discounted. From determining base metabolic rate to risks associated with food allergies and other serious medical conditions, your genetic makeup counts for a lot. Possessing a better understanding of basic nutritional concepts as well as learning more about how your genetics may be influencing your body’s nutritional needs can allow you to make smarter choices with regards to providing your body with the nutrients it needs. Developing better eating habits can play a major role in ensuring good health.