Just like how water exerts pressure on the walls of the pipes when flowing, blood too exerts pressure on the surface blood vessels.
The pressure exerted must be constant and of a particular value. A drop or hike in this pressure may likely be a warning of an abnormality.
When the pressure exerted by blood on the walls increases beyond a certain level, it is known as hypertension or high blood pressure.
Hypertension is a common health condition. Nearly half the American population is expected to be diagnosed with hypertension.
Most people don’t experience any particular symptom until the condition becomes severe. That is why hypertension is rightly known as the "silent killer”. Even when people do experience the symptoms, they are almost always associated with other issues.
The causes of hypertension or high blood pressure are still being studied. Some of the well-accepted and scientifically proven causes are smoking, obesity or being overweight, diabetes, having a sedentary lifestyle (one involving very minimal physical activities), and unhealthy eating habits.
When it comes to diet, a high salt intake can result in hypertension, especially if you are 'salt-sensitive.'
We all require some amount of salt in our diets to survive. As its chemical name sodium chloride suggests, salt contains an important mineral, sodium.
Salt sensitivity is a measure of how your blood pressure responds to salt intake. People are either salt-resistant - their blood pressure doesn't change much with salt intake or salt-sensitive - their blood pressure increases upon salt consumption.
About 60% of people with high blood pressure are thought to be salt-sensitive.
If you suspect salt sensitivity, the best way forward is to approach your medical practitioner.
Your practitioner may initially put you on a low sodium diet. This can then be switched to a high sodium diet.
If there's a rise in the blood pressure by 5-10% after the switch, then you may be considered salt sensitive.
When our ancestors were roaming about in Africa, many thousands of years ago, salt may have been a scarce nutrient in their diets.
Our bodies require salt for a lot of important functions like muscle contraction, maintaining blood volume, and sending messages and signals between the cells.
Salt also plays a role in water retention in the body. In archaic times when our ancestors were out and about in the Savannah, exposed to the sun for long periods of time, being salt-sensitive would have given them an advantage by losing less water to the environment.
Salt retention became even more essential when infectious diseases (which often cause people to lose sodium through diarrhea and vomiting) started to spread.
Researchers speculate that this is the reason why humans probably developed the sensitivity to salt.
So, an ability to hold on to this nutrient was a survival advantage in many ways.
Unfortunately for many of us, we have retained this evolutionary ability to hold on to calories and sodium ever so dearly. Being surrounded by an environment filled with high-salt and high-calorie foods has automatically ended up increasing our risk of obesity and hypertension.
Surprisingly, salt is not only found in salty foods, but many sweet-tasting foods have large amounts of salt in them. Salt is used as a taste enhancer and a preservative.
Many brands that make cake and pastries hide some amount of salt in them in order to enhance the taste.
The kidneys control blood pressure by either excreting or reabsorbing sodium. Since sodium moves with water, it is excreted as urine when the blood pressure needs to be lowered. By contrast, the kidneys reabsorb sodium in order to increase the blood pressure.
Our blood pressure is also regulated by the widening and narrowing of the blood vessels to regulate the blood flow.
The ACE gene produces the angiotensin-converting enzyme and plays a key role in controlling blood pressure.
Whenever there's a drop in the blood pressure, it triggers the release of a hormone, renin, from the kidneys. Renin helps form a molecule, angiotensin 1. Angiotensin 1 and 2 are two forms of the hormone angiotensin, that controls the narrowing of the blood vessels to regulate blood pressure. Angiotensin-converting enzyme or ACE, released by the lungs, converts angiotensin 1 to angiotensin 2. Angiotensin 2 triggers the release of another hormone, aldosterone, that helps kidneys reabsorb sodium and water, thereby increasing the blood pressure.
Some types of ACE gene increase the production of the angiotensin-converting enzyme. This results in an increased sodium absorption, thereby causing a higher than normal spike in the blood pressure.
The SNP rs4343 influences the production of the angiotensin-converting enzyme in response to sodium (salt) in blood. The A allele of rs4343 has been associated with increased blood pressure on high salt intake.
People who are salt sensitive should watch the sodium content in their diet. Foods that are low in sodium and high in potassium are recommended - potassium lessens the effect of sodium.
The DASH diet is popular among people with high blood pressure. This diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables - both of which are low in sodium and high in potassium. It also includes nuts, whole grains, poultry, and fish.
Dairy products also are a good addition to the diet. Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are major sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein.
Other low sodium foods include basil, apples, cinnamon, brown rice, kidney beans, and pecans.
While retaining salt in the body was a survival advantage for our ancestors, the same has become a villain in this day and age of high-calorie and high-salt foods all around. Hypertension, characterized by a persistent elevation in the blood pressure, is a risk factor for many serious conditions like heart disease and stroke. Depending on our sensitivity to the sodium in salt, our blood pressure either spikes or lurks in the normal range upon consumption of salt. The ACE gene plays an important role in determining our sensitivity to salt. The ‘salt-sensitive’ individuals must be wary of the amount of sodium (salt) intake in order to maintain their blood pressure in the normal range. The DASH diet is popular among people who are trying to limit their salt intake.
CYP1A2 codes for the production of 21-hydroxylase, which is part of the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes.
This family of enzymes is quite important as it is a part of many processes, that include breaking down drugs, production of cholesterol, hormones, and fats.
The adrenal glands secrete the enzyme, 21-hydroxylase.
Situated on the top of the kidneys, the adrenal glands also produce hormones like epinephrine and cortisol.
Incidentally, 21-hydroxylase plays a role in the production of cortisol and another hormone named aldosterone.
Cortisol is a stress-related hormone and plays a role in protecting the body from stress, as well as reducing inflammation.
Cortisol also helps in maintaining blood sugar levels.
Aldosterone, also known as the salt-retaining hormone, regulates the amount of salt retained in the kidneys.
This has a direct consequence on blood pressure, as well as fluid retention in the body.
There seems to be an interesting trend in the activity of the CYP1A2 gene and caffeine intake.
The consequence of being a “rapid” or a “slow” metabolizer of caffeine can have effects on an individual’s cardiovascular health.
This article explains the wide-ranging effects of this gene, caffeine intake, cardiovascular health, hypertension, and even pregnancy!
In the body, CYP1A2 accounts for around 95% of caffeine metabolism.
The enzyme efficiency varies between individuals.
A homozygous, that is, AA genotype represents individuals that can rapidly metabolize caffeine.
Some individuals have a mutation in this locus and thus have the AC genotype.
These individuals are “slow” caffeine metabolizers.
There seems to be a link between CYP1A2, the incidence of myocardial infarction (MI), and coffee intake.
The positive effects of coffee include lowering a feeling of tiredness and increasing alertness; however, it can also narrow the blood vessels.
This increases blood pressure and could lead to cardiovascular disease risk.
Rapid metabolizers of coffee have the AA genotype and may unravel the protective effects of caffeine in the system.
However, the individuals that are slow metabolizers have a higher risk of MI.
This suggests that the intake of caffeine has some role in this association.
Yet another study associated DNA damage due to mutagens found in tobacco smoking could contribute to MI.
The study included participants who were genotyped at the CYP1A2 gene.
They found a group of ‘highly inducible’ subjects that had a CYP1A2*1A/*1A genotype.
These individuals have a greater risk for MI, independent of their smoking status.
This also means that there is some intermediary substrate that the CYP1A2 gene decomposes, and if this gene has a mutation, it could lead to a higher risk of MI.
In a study conducted on 2014 people, people who were slow metabolizers of caffeine (C variant) and who consumed more than 3 cups of coffee per day had an association with increased risk for myocardial infarction.
In a similar study on 513 people, increased intake of coffee, among slow metabolizers, has an association with an increased risk for hypertension.
Smoking is capable of inducing the CYP1A2 enzyme. Smokers exhibit increased activity of this enzyme.
In a study conducted on 16719 people, people with the A variant, and who were non-smokers, were 35% less likely to be hypertensive than people with the C variant.
In the same study, CYP1A2 activity had a negative association with blood pressure among ex-smokers.
But for people who were still smoking, the same gene expressed an association with increased blood pressure.
The gene CYP1A2 also has an association with caffeine metabolism and smoking.
A study aimed to tie these concepts together to find the relationship between this gene and blood pressure (BP).
The main measurements of the study were caffeine intake, BP, and the activity of the CYP1A2 gene.
In non-smokers, CYP1A2 variants (having either a CC, AC, or AA genotype) were associated with hypertension.
Higher CYP1A2 activity was associated with people who quit smoking and had lower BP compared to the rest but had a higher BP while smoking.
In non-smokers, CYP1A2 variants (having either a CC, AC or AA genotype) were associated with high caffeine intake, and also had low BP.
This means that caffeine intake plays some role in protecting non-smokers from hypertension, by inducing CYP1A2.
The intake of caffeine during pregnancy has an association with the risk of reduced fetal growth.
High caffeine intake shows a link to decreased birth weight.
The babies are also at risk of being too small during the time of pregnancy.
This was also observed in a study conducted on 415 Japanese women.
Women with the A variant who drank more than 300 mg of coffee per day were shown to be at an increased risk of giving birth to babies with low birth weight.
In conclusion, there are a lot of effects that the CYP1A2 gene has on the body. Many studies, as noted above, seem to link the activity of this gene to caffeine intake.
A variant at the CYP1A2 gene can determine whether an individual is a fast or slow metabolizer of caffeine, and this has some effect on the blood pressure and cardiovascular health of an individual.
The gene also plays a role in regulating an infant’s weight during the pregnancy of a woman, and this has a link with caffeine intake. It is thus interesting to analyze the effect of the variants of the CYP1A2 gene on an individual, based on their caffeine intake.
Upload it to Xcode Life to know about your CYP1A2 caffeine metabolism and caffeine sensitivity variants.
Liquid calories or high sugar drinks are often consumed less rationally than food that is chewed. Most people do not “count” the calories they drink. However, a great deal of damage could be coming from liquid calories.
Sugar in drinks gets into the blood faster than sugar in solid foods, thus increasing blood sugar levels rapidly. Repeated increases in blood sugar levels lead to insulin resistance, which eventually leads to obesity, diabetes and other health conditions. People habitually consume colas, bottled fruit beverages with added sugar, teas and coffees with sugar, and all sorts of sugar sweetened beverages(ssb).
These drinks are consumed casually at home as a replacement for water, at entertainment centers, after sports, and at social events. Many people quench their thirst with these drinks instead of water, ignoring the calorie labels(a.k.a warning labels) on them. The fine print shows an alarmingly high level of sugar that research studies have found to be associated with a risk for obesity and thereby an increased risk for diabetes. These drinks confer risk of diabetes.
While the risk for diabetes associated with drinking sweetened beverages has always been known, a new study shows the extent of risk. Researchers from Karolinska University in Sweden showed that consuming 2 glasses of sugary drinks every day could double diabetes risk.
In the study, two or more of 200 milliliters servings(~ one and a half cans) of the sugary drinks when consumed every day was found to increase the risk for diabetes by two-fold. People who preferred drinks that were sweetened with artificial sweeteners were equally at risk for diabetes.
Diabetes risk was the same whether one consumed drinks sweetened with sugar or artificial sweetener
Josefin Edwall Löfvenborg who is a nutritionist at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute spoke about the relevance of the study “Not all studies have been able to look at sugary and artificially beverages separately. (but) it's getting more and more established that soft drinks increase the risk of type II diabetes."
‘Effect of Larger Quantities’
"We wanted to see the effect of larger intakes than two," stated Löfvenborg highlighting the second part of the study that determined diabetes risk among people who drank more than 1 liter of sugary drink every day. The risk was found to increase 10 fold in this group, reiterating the effect of consuming high sugar drink on diabetes risk.
Cups quickly add up to a liter in a day: a few cups of coffee or tea a day, some canned beverages, a can of soda or cola, cappuccino, lassi, etc. all can add up to contribute towards the risk of diabetes.
Is soda the new cigarette?
High sugar drinks like sugary soft drinks are being additionally taxed in places like California and Berkley in the U.S. In Kerala, India, fat tax of 14.5% is levied on junk food at International food chains which include burgers and high sugar drinks consumed in these chains. Such high tax is levied to lower consumptions as high sugar drinks are implicated in the rising obesity epidemic and diabetes numbers in the world. In California and Berkley, soda consumption has dropped by one fifth after the tax on soda was executed. Cigarettes are taxed similarly to lower consumptions, this boils down to soda being on the same plane as cigarettes. [/idea]
Not everyone reacts equally to dietary risk factors, certain genes have been shown to modify (predispose or protect) disease risk. In a recent study, it was found that people with certain gene variants were at a higher risk for diabetes even when they consumed the same dietary components as others. This would mean that people who consume high sugar drinks may have a higher risk for diabetes but the level of risk may be modulated by the genes they carry.
Family history is an important genetic risk factor for diabetes. The risk for diabetes is increased if both parents are diabetic, as compared with either parent or neither parent being diabetic. Predisposition to diabetes can be determined through a simple and economical saliva-based genetic test.
Xcode’s Health Genetics test is a companion to the Master Health Checkup (MHC). This genetic test covers predisposition to diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease in one, low-cost test. When taken together with blood test data from MHC, it provides a complete picture of the various risk factors. Nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling is provided to lower the risk towards the normal range.
You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
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Satiety can be defined as the ‘feeling of fullness’ after eating a meal. For example, have you ever wondered how you fill up with a bowl of oat meal but even three doughnuts leave you feeling hungry? The reason is the comparative satiety levels from the consumption of these foods.
Let us consider in more detail what happens during a meal. At the beginning, eating is rapid, with few pauses between bites. As the meal progresses, eating slows, there are more pauses between bites, and other behaviours such as fidgeting, grooming, or resting increase. A state of satiety is reached when the meal ends. This state is usually associated with a pleasant sensation of fullness or satisfaction. However, unpleasant sensations of nausea and bloating can be associated with satiety following excessive food intake. Of interest is that even when eating has stopped altogether, the introduction of a new food can restart eating.
Genes are involved in the regulation of metabolic rate and energy expenditure which in turn influences body fat accumulation. Some individuals carrying a variation in this gene tend to have “Difficulty in Feeling Full” and are likely to overeat, and overeating in the long run in turn can increase the likelihood for health conditions like obesity.
A genetic test to identify this mutation in an individual followed by appropriate dietary recommendations to overcome this difficulty in feeling full (if mutation is present) will help an individual attain optimal satiety levels.
Food without salt is tasteless and unappetizing. But, too much salt intake is not good for health. Of course, our body needs salt but not as much as we consume. Only one gram of salt is essential for an adult in a day and even lesser is the need for salt in children. But people take a lot more salt than is medically recommended which is a concern.
1. High Blood Pressure
The pressure that the blood puts on the blood vessels is known as blood pressure. Many reasons like too much body weight, no exercise as well as too much salt intake could lead to the increase in blood pressure. This could lead to various health complications like a stroke or a heart attack. People think that as they grow older, it is natural for the blood pressure to grow. It is not so. If you control the daily amount of salt in your food, you can keep your blood pressure under check..
2. Stomach Cancer
If a person is high on salt consumption, he/she is more susceptible to getting stomach cancer. A bacteria known as H. Pyroli is the cause for stomach cancer. Now too much salt intake can damage stomach lining, which in turn would leave the stomach vulnerable to H. Pyroli, and increase the chances of developing stomach cancer.
A condition where the bones lose its density and become thin or brittle is known as osteoporosis. Many people around the world suffer from this disorder. Calcium is stored in our bones. Too much salt intake causes this calcium to be flushed out of the body through urine causing the bones to turn weak and brittle. This disorder is very common in women after menopause but this can be checked by consuming lesser amount of salt in the daily diet.
4. Diseases of the Kidney
The kidneys maintain the balance of fluids in the human body. They monitor the amount of fluid which is flushed out from the blood into the urine. Too much salt intake can cause malfunctioning of the kidneys. Also when calcium from the bones is flushed out by the urine, it could cause a deposit to form in the kidneys leading to kidney stone.
5. Retention of Water
Too much salt in the diet could lead to water being retained in the body which could lead to bloating. This can be cured by reducing salt consumption
Hence to reduce health hazards and to lead a normal life it is advisable that people eat more fresh food rather than tinned and junk food as they all have huge quantities of salt in them and thereby increasing your overall salt consumption levels.