The story of Eman Ahmed, the world’s heaviest woman weighing nearly 500 Kg is now known to most. Her remarkable recovery has given hope to many that  extreme obesity is indeed reversible. However, a factor in weight loss and reversing obesity is find out the root cause. Many weight loss attempts fail because this fundamental step is routinely skipped and instead “standard” advice is given to everyone. A quick search in google and a visit to a few dietitians will tell you that the “basic” weight loss advice is the same - low calories, low carbs, low sugars, low fats etc, with some minor superficial changes to make it appear like it's different than the others. This is more like a magic trick rather than a real weight loss solution. If you are someone who is overweight and seeking professional help or self-help, be aware that the knowledge and understanding of your body through genetics will help you immensely.

If Eman Ahmed had sought traditional weight loss help, she would have gone nowhere. Because the cause of her obesity is not the traditionally assumed “lack of diet discipline,” her obesity was due to an extremely rare mutation in a gene called the Leptin Receptor gene. Before I explain that gene, let me first explain what Leptin is. Most of us do not suffer from these rare genetic defects, however, we carry genetic mutations, that confer varying degrees of similar effect in our bodies.

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Leptin is a hormone in our body. Hormones are key signalling molecules in the body. For example, the hormone testosterone signals the human body to produce male like features and attributes. The hormone estrogen, signals the body to produce more female like features. If you try to inject a female with heavy doses of testosterone, you will see that the female will begin to develop male like features. Every hormone has its functions in the body.

The Leptin hormone is called the satiety or hunger suppression hormone. If the levels of leptin in your blood are high, then you do not feel hungry. If they blood level of leptin is low, then w feel hungry. It’s the hormone that signals to your brain “I am full”- therefore stop eating. If this signalling is not functioning well, then your brain does not get the “I am full” signal and continues to crave food. Leptin hormone is produced by the fat tissue when the fat reserves are running low, as in, when you are hungry, less leptin is produced prompting you to eat more. The brain thus receives the signal that the body is low on energy and more energy needs to be provided. When leptin levels are high, the feeling of hunger is suppressed.

When Leptin levels are low, feeling of hunger is increased and when leptin levels are high, hunger feeling is suppressed.

As in any signal, there has to be the source of the signal (where the signal come from) and the receiver of signal. For example, in your mobile phones, the source is the mobile tower and your phone is the receiver. Communication can be interrupted when there is a problem at either end. Similarly, the person with a leptin receptor mutation, has a problem at the  leptin “receivers” in the brain. Even when the body has enough leptin, because the receptors are not receiving this signal, the signal is not captured and the body thinks there is not enough and hence continues to eat. In another instance, the receptors are fully functional but are less sensitive, so it takes more leptin create the same “feel full” effect than it does in other people. In yet another instance, the does not produce this signal in sufficient amounts, a condition known as leptin deficiency. Such patients have been shown to benefit from leptin injections in reversing obesity. Here is another wonderful write up about Leptin and its actions in the human body. As you can see, there are various possibilities in a single hormone mechanism in how you could be different from others. You can imagine how many such variations exist between you and others in hundreds of such hormonal and metabolic pathways. Learning about just a few of these in how you are different from others, will go a long way in helping your weight loss.

Know your genes, Know your body, Know yourself!

You had been wondering about your friends who could eat all the starchy carbohydrates and not put on an ounce of weight. Well, you were not the only one thinking about that. Quite a few scientists were trying to find an answer to why not everyone puts on equal amounts of weight on equal amounts of carbs.

Our bodies can't effectively utilize complex foods such as starches in our diet unless they are first digested into simple sugars.

Various enzymes are responsible for digesting complex foods into simple sugars. Amylase is one such enzyme which is responsible for digesting starch. Amylase, is produced by a gene called, AMY.

As it turns out, not all of us have the same amount of it in our bodies. Some have more and some have less. And depending upon how much you have, your ability to digest starch is more or less. Scientists wanted to investigate, why different human populations have different levels of this enzyme in their body?

The answer came by way of a scientific study published in Nature Genetics. In this study, researchers found that groups whose ancestors tended to eat more starch had more amylase in their spit. This makes some sense as amylase is the protein that breaks down starch into sugars we can use. The groups which tended to eat more starchy foods were predominantly farmers as well as hunter-gatherers of the desert. In contrast hunter-gatherers of the rainforest don’t or people of the cold north who mostly relied on fish and fats, don’t tend to have much Amylase in their saliva.

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Several groups of people were studied and there was a lot of variation within each group but on average, groups who ate more starch had more copies of the amylase gene. Groups with a high starch diet averaged seven copies of the amylase gene compared to the five copies seen in groups who ate a low starch diet.

In other studies, a connection has been shown between high levels of amylase and better enzymatic activity and obesity. A better active enzyme leads to lower BMI.

So, do you know how many copies of amylase enzyme gene you carry, five, seven or more?

You may have prescribed to various diets plans to lose weight fast, or another “best weight loss diet” or a “quick weight loss” scheme etc. But if you are reading this article, chances are that you have figured out by now, that those are nothing more than “quick” marketing schemes and whether you lost weight or not, you certainly lost your money. It is estimated that the global weight loss industry is USD 600 Billion and much of it is wasted.

The internet is filled with “advice” for the gullible- promoting anything and everything from Foods to lose weight, best weight loss diets, healthy diet plans, to fancy home delivered meal plans.

In this article you will learn the key to a successful diet to lose weight and how to avoid falling prey to misinformation about weight loss and how to know which is the best diet plan for YOU!

The low everything diet

You have heard it all- Low carbs, low fat foods, low salt, low everything. Well, on a low everything diet, I promise you that anyone will lose weight. But you will also lose your mind!

The “low everything diet” will make your life so miserable that you will not be able to follow it for much long. Plus, much of that sacrifice would have been unnecessary!

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But first, let’s examine how the low-everything movement started. It started in ignorance. Ignorance of the fact that human bodies are significantly different from each other. So, when people are ignorant and don’t know what to do, what do they do? Spray and pray- precisely what the nutrition and diet professionals and individuals have been doing all along. They have been doing all the unnecessary things that only make it difficult and complicated to follow but potentially do bodily and mental harm to individuals.

Remember, before science discovered the facts about earth, it was thought by various cultures that the earth was flat, that it was resting on the nose of a dolphin or on the tip of a cow’s horn, etc etc. Unfortunately, much of nutritional advice today sounds like that. Same advice doled out to everyone, online and offline.

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Carbs are bad? Not for some.

A little thought experiment for you- if carbs are bad, why doesn't everyone become obese on carbs, likewise, if fats are bad, why not everyone become fat or have a heart attack, why doesn't the widely recommended "bullet proof" diet work for you and many others?

We live in a one size fits all world of nutrition. Due to lack of knowledge and innovation, the same stuff is repeated and recycled often, even if it's worthless. So, if you have tried many things and failed, it’s not your fault.

But, thankfully, things are changing fast, thanks to the new science of human genetics.

We are a mosaic of genetic information

We don't look the same. We are different down to our fingerprints. If I pass your fingerprints for mine, it won't fly anywhere. But we are happy to pretend that something far more complex in human biology, human Nutrition, can be treated the same across all humans. Pure BS!

Below are a few differences between humans in how their bodies process various foods.dna diet, weight loss

These are but a few examples, there are many more nutritional aspects in which you may be different than others. Unless you learn about your specific metabolism, much of your weight loss efforts will be trial and error.

If you have been struggling to lose weight and tried everything under the sun, please stop abusing yourself! You have been following what is known as "trial and error" method (aka. Spray and pray), which is the  "I don’t know what I am doing" approach.

First step is to understand your body. Understand your genetics. Understand your metabolism. Understand what works for YOU. Only then can you succeed in reaching an optimal body weight. Otherwise, you are wasting a lot of time and not to mention money.

Only YOU can truly understand what works for you and knowledge of your biological self will guide you in the right direction. So take action today to understand your genetic metabolism.

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