• Barbara Johnson, MD

What is the Best Diet for You?

Updated: Feb 10


Why Genetic Testing is Necessary Today

With the popularity of the ketogenic and paleo diets for weight loss and health, more and more people are shifting to this say of eating. What the ketogenic and paleo diets have in common is reliance on whole foods with limited processed foods, grains and sugars.

The main difference between these two is in the amount of fat. Ketogenic diets are very high in fats – up to 80%, moderate in protein and very low in carbohydrates. The Paleo diet stresses more proteins than keto diets and also include saturated fats and healthy carbohydrates. Paleo eliminates grains, legumes, processed sugars and most dairy.

Consuming healthy saturated fats are encouraged in both of these diets in form of grass-fed butter, cheese, meats, coconut oil and whole eggs.

The problem with following a particular diet is that there is no ‘one diet fits all’. Everyone is genetically different, so just because saturated fats are being classified as beneficial for many people they are not. Everyone has different dietary needs based on their individual genetics and following the current popular diet may actually harm you.

For example, if you have certain genetic variations such as the APOE4, CLOCK, APOA2 or FTO gene, then eating high fat – regardless of how ‘healthy’ it is – is not healthy for you.

APOA2 – protects against metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Those with variations in this gene number between 10-15% of the US population. These individuals with the APOA2 variant have reduced activity of the function of this gene thus promoting metabolic syndrome, weight gain and diabetes when eating a diet high in saturated fats.

CLOCK. This gene is the master regulator of the circadian rhythm and alters absorption of fat from the intestines. Carries of this gene which are about 6% of Americans tend to be obese especially with saturated fat consumption. They also tend to overeat and have larger waist circumference than carriers of this gene who do not eat saturated fats.

FTO. This is a very studied gene with regard to saturated fat and weight and has been named the ‘Fatso Gene’. Frequencies of this gene are as high as 45% in certain ethnic groups. This gene is the strongest genetic risk factor for obesity to date. Even with only one copy of this gene, children are twice as likely to be obese but only if they eat a lot of saturated fat. So even though having this gene is a strong predisposition for obesity, it doesn’t have to determine your fate. Changing how you eat, and exercising will negate this risk.

APOE4. This gene has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease. But this risk has been associated with intake of saturated fats. Studies have shown that APOE4 carriers who ate the most saturated fat were 7 times more likely to get AD than non-carriers. This occurs because for those with APOE4 diets high in fat cause an inflammatory reaction and increases LDL-P count. These changes in blood lipids contribute to poor cardiovascular health and over time will contribute to dementia.

Having a personalized nutrition plan based on your genetics is the only ‘healthy’ way to eat. To be safe it is best to test and not guess.

Please contact the office at 276-235-3205 or thejohnsoncenter@gmail if you are interested in having your genetics tested and to know what is the right diet for you.


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