Sleep is the best way to relax and rejuvenate your body. It curbs all physical and mental stressors and reduces the risk of various health conditions, including cardiovascular complications. Researchers have found an "ideal time" to fall asleep that is best for your heart health. According to this study by the British Academics, going to bed in the "golden hour" can reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke.
While there are many reasons to prioritize a good night's sleep, protecting your heart tops the list!
From sleep quality to sleep duration, many parameters of your sleep affect your heart health.
According to the American Heart Association, poor sleep is associated with increased calcium build-up in the arteries. This can result in plaque formation, increasing your risk for heart attacks.
In fact, just one hour more sleep each night is associated with a 33% decreased risk of calcium build-up in arteries.
Image: Calcium plaque formation in the heart's artery
Not getting enough sleep (7-9 hours per night) can induce hormonal changes - especially those that regulate hunger. It increases the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreases the levels of the satiety hormone leptin. This can lead to overeating and obesity, which is again a risk factor for heart diseases.
Excessive sleeping (>9 hours) can also increase the risk of developing a range of heart conditions.
Heart conditions associated with bad sleep include:
This study from the United Kingdom used an accelerometer device to examine the sleep onset and waking time in the study participants.
Accelerometers are devices that monitor sleep by sensing movements.
103,679 participants (in the UK Biobank recruited between 2006 and 2010) were made to wear the accelerometer for 7 days, and accelerometer data were studied.
After some filtering, a total of 15,653 participants were excluded from the study for reasons like:
The sleep-onset time (SOT) of the remaining 88,026 patients was recorded, and the relationship between SOT and heart diseases was investigated.
The study was done over a period of 6 years and reported that 3.6% of subjects later developed heart disease.
There was a U-shaped relationship between increased risk of heart disease and SOT - this suggests that there is an optimal SOT for reducing heart disease risk.
Image: Relationship between sleep-onset time and heart disease risk
Any deviations from this range - earlier SOT or later SOT can increase heart disease risk.
Image: Study Results
The findings of this study do not show a causal relationship between SOT and heart disease risk - it just implies a correlation.
However, there is a mountain of evidence that sleep is related to other risk factors of heart disease, like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
Creating a consistent sleep pattern: Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day (even during weekends and holidays) can help your sleep cycle function well.
Planning your naps: Midday naps, if not done correctly, can interfere with a good night's sleep. A short nap during the afternoon can help you get through your midday lull and not disrupt the night's sleep!
Getting enough sunlight: Natural light, especially during the day, can help your body's clock to function well, thereby promoting good quality sleep.
Improving your bedtime routine: Instead of looking at devices like mobile phones and laptops that emit blue light, listening to music, reading, or taking a relaxing warm bath before bed can help with the quick onset of sleep.
Having an early dinner: The CDC recommends not eating or drinking anything within a few hours of bedtime to give your body enough time to wind down.
The Group Specific Component globulin (GC) gene is associated with the synthesis of Group Specific Component globulin (GC), also called the Vitamin D Binding Protein (VDBP), which binds to vitamin D and its plasma metabolites, transporting them to the target tissue. This protein is synthesized by the hepatic parenchymal cells and then secreted into the blood stream. People with the C variant of the gene are shown to be associated with lower vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and for the absorption of calcium, low level of vitamin D is associated with brittle bones and poor muscle function. Vitamin D deficiency is identified by measuring the level of 25, hydroxy vitamin D in the blood. Increased plasma concentration of plasma 25, hydroxy vitamin D is associated with reduced risk of hypertension.
|CHIP Version||GC SNPs|
|23andMe (Use your 23andme raw data to know your GC Variant)|
|V5 23andme (current chip)||Present|
|AncestryDNA (Use your ancestry DNA raw data to know your GC Variant)|
|v1 ancestry DNA||Present|
|V2 ancestry DNA (current chip)||Present|
|Family Tree DNA (Use your FTDNA raw data to know your GC Variant)|
|OmniExpress microarray chip||Present|
The GC gene is found to be the strongest genetic determinant of the bioavailability of 25, hydroxy vitamin D. There are three isoforms of GC- GC1F, GC2 and GC1S, they are based on a combination of alleles of the SNPs rs7041 and rs 4588 (rs 2282679 is a close proxy). The isoform GC1F is more common among people with dark skin when compared with people with pale skin. GC2 and GC1S are more common among people with pale skin than among people with dark skin.
The vitamin D binding protein (VDBP) in people with the GC1 isoform has a higher affinity for vitamin D metabolites. This is shown to be associated with variations in the bioavailability of circulating 25, hydroxy vitamin D levels among ethnicities.
|CC||[Limitation] More likely to have lower plasma 25, hydroxy vitamin D|
|CA||Moderate plasma 25, hydroxy vitamin D|
|AA||[Advantage] More likely to have higher plasma 25, hydroxy vitamin D|
How can this information be used?
It is important to choose an appropriate diet based on the genetic profile
|For people with C variant (Decrease in plasma 25, hydroxy vitamin D) Likely decrease in plasma 25, hydroxy vitamin D Include 1000 I.U of vitamin D per day Ensure sufficient exposure to sunlight; include enjoyable activities like taking the dog for a walk or a day at the beach with family.|
|For people with A variant (Normal plasma 25, hydroxy vitamin D) Increased likelihood for normal level of plasma 25, hydroxy vitamin D if the dietary intake is sufficient Spend time outdoors for adequate exposure to sunlight|
“Nutrigenetics, fitness genetics, health genetics are all nascent but rapidly growing areas within human genetics. The information provided herein is based on preliminary scientific studies and it is to be read and understood in that context.”
Weight loss struggles are an increasing phenomenon world over with the majority of people aspiring to achieve a slim body either for aesthetic reasons or good health. However, in recent years, obesity has increased dramatically in many parts of the world with India ranking third in the world’s most obese countries. According to a study, ‘Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980–2013:a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013’, India accounts for 15% of the world’s obese population along with China.
With the rise in obesity, there has also been a significant rise in metabolic diseases associated with obesity such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. India has been particularly hard hit with rates of diabetes reaching as much as 20% of the population in some parts of the country. Even though accounting for only 20% of the world’s population, India shoulders 60% world heart disease burden. Studies claim that 40% - 70% of obesity is influenced by genetic predisposition, with environmental elements accounting for the rest. As alarming as this is, there is hope for change. Several scientific studies indicate that the prevention of metabolic conditions by lifestyle modifications such as healthy diet and exercise are far more effective than clinical treatment for these conditions at a later stage.
|With over 50% of obesity being attributed to genetics, obesity can be an inherited condition. Studies find that the risk for obesity is 2-8 times higher for a person with a family history as opposed to a person with no family history of obesity. The FTO gene, also commonly known as the obese gene, is considered to be highly contributory to obesity in individuals. People carrying this gene are found to have a 70% higher chance of being obese than non-carriers. Other genes such as MC4R, INSIG, TCF7L2, LEP, IRS, have also been found to contribute to this condition. However, this does not necessitate a certainty of obesity in carriers. Studies have found that corrective lifestyle measures can alleviate obesity even in people with a genetic predisposition.|
Apart from genetics, a variety of environmental factors have also contributed to this rapid increase in obesity. The most prominent of them being unhealthy food choices and decreased physical activity. The increase in access to junk and processed food has led to unhealthy snacking and food habits. Home-cooked meals are maybe visited once a day with the remaining meals consisting of take-outs or packaged food. In addition, a sedentary lifestyle with minimum to nil physical activity greatly adds to the rise of this condition. Another factor for concern is the lack of regular sleep patterns. Working night shifts and staying up late hours in the night have also shown to contribute to an increasing waistline.
Weight management through standard diets or weight loss plan is a key strategy to reduce the risk or more effectively manage metabolic diseases.
However, the vast majority of weight loss solutions either do not work or work temporarily as they are not sustainable over the long term. The global weight loss industry is estimated to be around USD 600 billion. However, a recent 10-year study by King’s College London determined that an overwhelming 99% of people attempting to lose or maintain weight loss will fail in the long run, indicating that the vast majority of the money spent on weight loss treatments is wasted.
A key reason for failure is a one size fits all approach. Diet plans are standardised on a few core ideas such as high protein, high fats or low carbs, and are extended to as many customers as possible to maximise the market reach. Here, it is assumed that everyone’s body is the same on the inside and hence the same recommendations should work for all. This assumption turns out to be misguided. Genetics impacts all aspects of our lives including how we metabolize foods. Some people are capable of eating all they can and are able burn off the calories, while some people struggle to manage their desired weight despite their best attempts. This is because the underlying genetics is different for all individuals. So far, the tools to understand an individual’s genetics were unavailable. However, over the last decade, with significant advancements in science and technology, these tools are now both available and affordable.
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In a recent study by Stanford University, people who followed a diet program tailored to their genetics were shown to lose as much as 2.5 times the amount of weight compared to people who followed a “standard” diet advice. Understanding one’s genetic profile can help individuals understand their body type and tailor their diets to foods best suited to them. A healthcare professional can use insights from the genetic test to then create a personalized diet to help individuals optimize their metabolism, and achieve their weight objectives, while reducing associated health risks.
Weight loss doesn’t just make one look and feel good, but greatly improves the day-to-day quality of life too. Energy levels, mood, temperament, immune system – all get a boost while reducing the risks for several health and metabolic conditions. In fact, healthy lifestyle choices have also found to help control certain conditions like Type 2 diabetes, PCOS and other lifestyle diseases. Not just for the obese or sedentary, proactive individuals should also consider undergoing a genetic test to understand their body’s unique metabolic profile to customise weight management program as per their lifestyle and genetics.
However, it is important to note that genetic testing can guide your effort correctly, but not replace it. Focussing on the overall nature of sustainable weight loss, Dr. M. Lakdawalla of CODS (Centre for Obesity and Digestive Surgery) India, says, “While genes do play some role in causing a predisposition to obesity, I would not say that they are entirely to blame. A paper published by Harvard's TH Chan School of Public Health states that ‘Active adults who carried the obesity-promoting gene had a 30 percent lower risk of obesity than inactive adults who carried the gene’. Worldwide, we have seen an increase in obesity over the past 30 years - it cannot entirely be put down to genetics. There are several factors that play a role - unhealthy lifestyles, rising stress levels, physical inactivity, rise in conditions such as diabetes, etc.”
Genetics is not just about physical differences among individuals. IT influences all aspects of human physiology and impacts several aspects of our health including, how our body responds to fats, carbohydrates, proteins, gluten, lactose, salt, and vitamins. This understanding will continue to grow by leaps and bounds in the years ahead. One thing is for certain, that the era of "standard" diets, nutrition, and medication is over. Evidence from several scientific studies indicates that what we consume as food and medicine need to be tailored to the individual's genetic type.
Cardiovascular disease is a group of diseases that involve the heart and blood vessels. There are a number of risk factors associated with this condition, including genetic risk factors with several mutations in several genes being associated. One such important and the independent risk factor is Homocysteine.
|Nearly 60% of the world’s heart disease occurs in India Indians are prone to premature coronary artery disease (CAD) with homocysteine found to be a significant independent risk factor for CAD in young patients. MTHFR gene polymorphism was found in 1/3rd of ischaemic stroke patients in India and was associated with a higher frequency of hyperhomocysteinemia compared with people without the polymorphism. Gene mutation implicated in homocysteine levels are significantly associated with CVD in Indians C677T MTHFR mutation was strongly associated with arterial stroke, with MTHFR allele evaluation aiding in reducing morbidity due to stroke. Multiple scientific studies have established high levels of homocysteine in the Indian population- as much as 80% according to one study. Poor maternal folate rate, indicated by plasma homocysteine levels which is a highly sensitive marker of folate levels, is associated with preeclampsia, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and spontaneous delivery. 60 to 90% of adolescents in India suffer from anemia, with folate deficiency being one of the major causative factors for nutritional anemia. 22 to 52% in India have folate deficiency in India. Conditions associated with folate deficiency, like neural tube defects with a prevalence of 1 to 5 per 1000 live births, are high in India.|
Folate (vitamin B9) is responsible for converting the harmful homocysteine to its useful form, methionine. Methionine is important for many essential bodily functions such as the production of DNA and RNA, cell, and tissue growth. Though dietary intake of folate is generally inadequate in India, that is not the only reason for high homocysteine levels. Genes also play an important role.
Folate is present in an inactive form in the body and is converted to its active form by the enzyme Methyl Tetra hydro Folate Reductase (MTHFR). The active form of folate is necessary for the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. The gene MTHFR plays a role in the production of the MTHFR enzyme and any genetic variation in this gene could alter the level and activity of the enzyme in the body. It has been shown that the prevalence of MTHFR gene mutation is high in India, which when combined with low dietary folate intake can lead to very high levels of homocysteine and other associated conditions.
Maintenance of adequate folate levels is extremely important during pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence. Lack of methionine can lead to improper DNA synthesis and disruption in gene regulation that could lead to birth defects like neural tube defects, which are associated with folate deficiency.
Asians show a high prevalence of 677C>T polymorphism in the MTHFR gene. People with genetic variants that are at high risk for folate insufficiency should supplement their diet with rich sources of folate. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of folate, however, in India, overcooking vegetables leads to loss of folate. Fortified cereals, grains, and cornmeal are sources of folic acid, which is a synthetic form of folate. The folate from the diet will compensate for the lowered levels due to gene polymorphism.
The type of MTHFR gene has been shown to influence the Active Folate levels in blood. Want to know what type of MTHFR gene you have? Try Xcode’s nutrigenetics test which can tell you what versions of the MTHFR gene are in your DNA. You can also learn about how your genes may influence other traits, including your risk for certain diseases. Write to us at email@example.com to find out more.
The onset of muscle fatigue has hampered many athletes from achieving their maximum potential. Lactic acid buildup is a byproduct of anaerobic metabolism. Under normal activity levels, the body mostly relies on aerobic metabolism and hence lactate (another name for lactic acid) buildup is not a major concern. However, with increased activity levels, specifically, when the metabolism switches from aerobic (oxidative) to anaerobic (glycolytic), as in power activities performed at high heart rates, lactate levels quickly build up, which, if not cleared from muscles, cause fatigue and a burning sensation.
But how quickly lactic acid is cleared and how quickly a person feels this fatigue is also influenced by your genetics, especially the MCT1 gene. This article provides insights into how individual differences effects the lactic acid clearance rate and muscle fatigue.
During short term power (anaerobic) exercise, our body uses substances such as ATP and creatine phosphate (CP) within the first 7 seconds to produce energy. This signals the body to start glycolysis, a process to utilize the glycogen (stored glucose) to produce energy. When glycogen is broken down to release energy, which allows the muscle movement to continue. During this process, a substance called lactic acid is formed. Small amounts of lactic acid operate as a temporary energy source, thus helping you avoid fatigue during a workout. However, a buildup of lactic acid during a workout can create burning sensations in the muscle & limits the muscle contraction, resulting in muscle fatigue. For this reason, it may be desirable to reduce lactic acid build up in the muscles. However, if you are a bodybuilder, lactic acid buildup has been shown to be highly anabolic- meaning, good for muscle building. Body builders routinely workout to feel the “burn” in their muscles.
Monocarboxylate transporters (MCT) regulates the transport of lactate and many other substances and removes lactic acid from the muscles. MCT1 gene influences the amount of MCT you produce. The more you produce, the quicker is the clearance rate, thus the delay in the onset of muscle fatigue. Individuals with faster version have shown to produce higher levels of MCT, making them more suitable for endurance based exercises than individuals with slower versions producing lower levels of MCT.
|Adequate magnesium levels in your diet will help the body deliver energy to the muscles while exercising, thus limiting the buildup of lactic acid. Foods rich in magnesium include legumes like navy beans, pinto beans, kidney beans and lima beans and seeds such as pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds and vegetables like spinach, greens, turnips. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It helps the body to break down glucose and thus can help to limit the body’s need for lactic acid. Food sources of these fatty acids include fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, from nuts and seeds like walnuts and flax seed and from plant based oils such a olive oil, canola oil, rice bran oil. B vitamins: help to transport glucose throughout the body and help provide energy to the muscles. Food sources of B vitamins includes leafy green vegetables, cereals, peas and beans, fish, beef, poultry, eggs and dairy products.|
BOTTOM LINE: If you are an endurance runner, excess lactic acid buildup is undesirable as it leads to fatigue. If you are a bodybuilder, you need lactic acid buildup as its highly anabolic and good for muscle growth.
Discover your genes and align your training with your genetic type. Try Xcode’s fitness genetics test which can tell you whether you carry faster, slower or both versions of the MCT1 genes . Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Increasing nitric oxide (NO) has become the new secret weapon for athletes and bodybuilders. It is used as the primary ingredient in various dietary supplements to support the flow of blood and oxygen to the skeletal muscle and also use them to facilitate the removal of exercise-induced lactic acid buildup which reduces fatigue and recovery time.
Whilst exercise and diet can impact your Nitric Oxide levels, your genes also play a role. Specifically, your NOS3 gene can suggest whether you should be supplementing your diet with Nitric Oxide boosting foods and supplements. Or whether you have a natural advantage in terms of Nitric Oxide levels produced by your body, hence giving you a power based training advantage.
[idea]Other factors such as aging, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, high cholesterol, fatty diets, and lack of healthy foods may result in nitric oxide deficiency. Thus, increasing your nitric oxide levels can help increase your energy, vitality and overall wellness.[/idea]
The NOS3 gene produces the Nitric Acid Synthase 3 enzyme, which facilitates the production of nitric oxide (NO). The type of NOS3 gene that you carry influences the production levels of NO. Increased enzyme activity may result in higher production levels of NO. Although the NOS3 gene has been associated with athletic endurance performance and elite power athletic status, research into the NOS3 gene has shown that the one version of this gene has been found at a higher frequency in Polish power based athletes. Studies into Spanish power athletes also showed similar results.
The modern sedentary lifestyle has now made obesity, a national epidemic.
Doctors, nutritionists, and fitness professionals are doing everything they can to encourage people to lead healthier lives.
Why not use your 23andme fitness information from your raw data to learn more about the status of sports-related genes like ACE and ACTN3?
This question has bothered countless people who’ve started exercise programs and has also motivated a major study – “genetics of fitness”.
Scientists have long known that when a group of people follow the same aerobic workout routine, some increase their cardiorespiratory fitness substantially, while others seem to get no benefit at all.
There is no magic workout that works for everybody.
Customization is the key, and over the years it is being commonly used in various fields.
Exercise for your phenotype by knowing your genotype
If healthcare and fitness professionals know a person’s genetic predispositions they can recommend a tailor-made exercise regimen that can maximize results.
By testing specific markers, researchers have discovered that certain traits such as stamina, muscle building, fat burning, energy distribution, etc. are governed by genetics, not effort.
At first, this may sound disappointing as it demonstrates that despite the efforts, some exercises simply do not benefit everyone equally.
Instead, this science clearly casts a light on what people should be doing to maximize their own unique fitness.
For example, the ACTN3 gene is responsible for the development of fast-twitch muscle fiber.
Determining whether someone is better suited towards sprinting-based activities (i.e. short distance running) or endurance-based exercises (i.e. long-distance running) is based on variations in this gene.
This drives home the point that genes can have profound effects on your health and body, even deep within your cells.
By knowing your genes, altering your exercise pattern can lead to better fitness conditions.
Upload your DNA raw data to Xcode Life. Our Gene Fitness Report analyzes aerobic capacity, weight loss/weight gain with exercises, flexibility, lung/heart capacity, and 15 more such categories.
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.
Bones are a very important part of our body as they protect our organs. Strong bones are necessary to be physically fit and healthy. When we are young, our bones are stronger and harder. But, as we age and reach our 40s, they gradually lose their density. This problem especially affect women as they are prone to suffer from Osteoporosis. Though Osteoporosis has no initial symptoms, an X-ray can show the amount of damage done. But, not many realize the condition until they have a fracture.
Your bones are vital for the nourishment of your body. It is necessary to take care of them to prevent osteoporosis that may occur over time. A balanced diet, regular exercise and good habits can prevent the loss of bone calcium.