For decades, nutritionists and doctors have preached that a low-fat diet is the key to maintaining optimal weight and preventing health problems. But in recent times, research has shown that a diet rich in healthy fats can be better for people, particularly if those fats are used to offset the consumption of foods containing high levels of salt, sugar and refined carbs. Recent U.S dietary guidelines (2015) no longer focus on the restriction of fat in the diet, instead emphasizing the quality of fat
The dietary fats have undergone tremendous changes in terms of quantity and quality over the past 10,000 years. Some of the notable changes in the modern day diet in terms of dietary fat quality are the increased intake of saturated fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA),
Plant based fats such as those from foods like vegetable oils, seeds and nuts, are SCPUFAs, the shorter length fatty acids such as alpha linolenic acid (omega 3) and linolenic acid ( omega 6) and need to be converted to LCPUFAs such as EPA, DHA and AA respectively in order to be utilized by our body, whereas animal based fats such as fish, eggs or steak already contains longer length LCPUFAs and our body can readily utilise them without the need for conversion.There are different types of FADS1 gene and the type you carry determines how well the SCPUFAs are converted to LCPUFAs. People carrying the “C” type of this gene have reduced conversion ability, and such people need to get their PUFA from animal sources especially fish or from supplements. Whereas people carrying the “T” type of this gene have efficient conversion ability and they need not rely on animal sources of PUFA to meet their needs.
A recent study done at the Cornell University compared 234 individuals of a primarily vegetarian Indian population and 311 individuals of traditional meat eating American population. Using 1000 genomes project, the study provided evidence that people with long ancestry of plant based diet have developed a mutation in the FADS2 gene, that has helped them convert SCPUFAs to LCPUFAs, hence fulfill their Omega-3 requirements from plant based sources. The study also points out people with FADS2 “vegetarian-gene” type are at higher risk of cardiac disease and cancer when they switch to a non-vegetarian diet.
Thus, prescribing personalised diets based on the type of FADS genes – insertion type or the deletion type can be an important consideration for precision nutrition and medicine.
Want to know if you have the “the vegetarian gene” Xcode’s nutrigenetics test can tell you what versions of the FADS1 gene you have in your DNA. You can also learn about how your genes may influence other traits, including your risk for certain diseases. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org