Just because your father had high triglycerides and so did his father does not mean you are destined to suffer the same fate, especially if you watch what you eat. So says researchers at the University of Illinois. They have confirmed the theory that a good diet can overcome bad genes.
Studying the effect of diet on disease, scientists found that while genetics may put a person at risk of high triglycerides, maintaining a healthy body weight or making dietary changes can be helpful in reducing that risk. The findings were reported recently in the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics.
Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood that are important for good health. The trouble comes when the triglyceride level is too high as it puts someone at an increased risk of heart disease. High triglycerides may also be a sign of metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar and too much fat around the waist. Metabolic syndrome puts people at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Researchers wanted to understand more about individuals with what they called a “gene of interest” because they believed those with that particular gene are at a greater risk of developing high triglycerides. They studied those with the high-risk genotype and found those that had the highest body mass index (BMI) had the highest levels of triglycerides circulating. Additionally, those with higher carbohydrate intake, particularly in the form of sugar or sucrose, also had elevated triglycerides.
The findings also showed that maintaining a healthy body weight allowed individuals to overcome the influence of genes related to type 2 diabetes. "We know that genes aren't everything," said researcher Katie Robinson. "There are a lot of things we can do, behaviorally, to change our individual risk. It's a silver lining in our research. We can't modify our genetics, but we can modify our epigenomes and some behaviors. You can still have positive health outcomes."
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