The Reva Clinic News

17 Nov 2014 Date Holder

Could a simple swab test help you choose between a high-fat diet like the Atkins, or the 5:2 diet?

Fat to thin

Recent research published in Cell Metabolism journal, shows that our bodies adapt to different diets through a range of different mechanisms1.  Fabulous!  So we can eat what we want and our body adapts…

Hmm.  Unfortunately not (you knew that bit was coming didn’t you?!). 

When we look at how the body adapts to different diets, we can see that if the diet isn’t suited to our particular genes then yes, the body adapts, but it does so via a whole lot of negative processes.  Some of these processes include the generation of free radicals (very reactive molecules that cause damage in the body), and defects in our mitochondria (which generate all of the body’s energy).  This contributes to the association the researchers found between diet and premature aging – not something I think most of us are really after. 

The good news though is that there are some genetic tests that can show us what type of diet we’re most suited to in terms of the proportion of fat, carbohydrate and protein that our bodies work best with.  We can also see which people are in greater need of a high vegetable intake (to be used as antioxidants) and those who will do better on a diet that introduces fasting.

Have a look at this picture below – it’s a patient’s DNA results for genes associated with fat absorption and breakdown.

DNA Fat absorption genes

So here I’ve just picked out the gene variations associated with fat absorption and metabolism.  It all looks a bit confusing, but basically it shows you (or me!), that this person has a normal absorption rate of fat from their food (FABP2), but is very sensitive to the total fat in the diet (PPARG/APOA5).  A high fat diet is not appropriate for this person and is actually likely to be detrimental to their health.  This person stores fat very efficiently – ideal throughout evolution for periods of starvation, but not quite so good in the 21st Century!

These results also tell me that when this person exercises and naturally produces adrenaline, the signal to the gene (ADRB2) to start to release fat is not as efficient as someone else.  This means that high intensity, short burst activity is not the best form of exercise for this person if they want to burn fat.  The duration of exercise is not long enough for the message to get through.  Longer power walks, swimming, cycling etc are all better forms of exercise to access fat storage for fuel. 

This person may feel better eating before exercise (as it takes longer to access their fat stores for energy), but this is totally counterintuitive for them.  It would be much better to build up fasted exercise slowly, to get the body used to fasted exercise and then eventually to work up to longer fasted sessions and so access their body fat and improve their health.

There are a number of other recommendations I’d be making for this person in terms of their diet, lifestyle and exercise programmes, but I’d have to look at their other genetic variations to build a completely individual picture.

So, there you have it.  What should you be eating to ensure your long-term health?

If you’re interested in knowing more, have a look at the website here and feel free to drop me an email!

Have a lovely week – and don’t forget to check out the next few blog posts when I’ll be talking about other gene variations involved in cholesterol, detoxification and hormonal conditions such as endometriosis :)


1.  Pang S. & Curran SP., (2014).  Adaptive Capacity to Bacterial Diet Modulates Aging in C. elegans.  Cell Metabolism.  19: 2; 221-231.