How the "vegetarian gene" helps and hurts your employees


A "Vegetarian" gene is hurting or helping your employees . Help them Find it and live healthier.

Are fats good or bad? Which types of fats are good and which types are bad? And how much fat is good? These are some of the many confusing food related questions we encounter everyday. 

And you can find a variety of confusing advice and information on the internet, from companies pushing diet plans for weight-loss or prevent diabetes plans which recommend overloading on fats to avoiding fats.

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 modern day diet, in terms of dietary fat, are the increased intake of linoleic acid (LA)  derived from omega 6 fats found in vegetable oils - saffola, sunflower, olive oil, corn oil and reduced intake of omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and even chicken fat. These changes have a broad impact on your employees' health including chronic low grade inflammation leading to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer, PCOS and metabolic syndrome.

Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and Genes

Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (lcPUFAs), arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) provide structure to cells, act as messengers between and within cells, and play a major role in fat and sugar balance in the body.

Our body converts all the shorter length polyunsaturated fatty acids (scPUFAs) to LCPUFAs by using FADS (fatty acid desaturase) enzyme, produced by the FADS genes such as FADS1 and FADS2.

Plant based fats such as those in vegetable oils, seeds and nuts, are 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 utilize them without the need for conversion.

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 South Asian Indian - origin and 311 primarily Caucasian individuals consuming western style meat based diet. 

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 that people with FADS2 “vegetarian-gene” variation  are at higher risk of cardiac disease and cancer when they switch to a more Western - meat and dairy based non-vegetarian diet.

The graph shows the global frequency pattern of an allele adaptive to vegetarian diets. The allele has the highest frequency among South Asian Indians, followed by Africans, who have traditionally relied heavily on plant-based diets.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

Personalize. You are unique and may have higher risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes  if you have African American, Chinese, South Asian, Indian, Hispanic heritage. 

Personalizing your food and lifestyle to fit your individual genetic, gut biome, blood markers will ensure the best and optimum health benefits you seek. 

WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS DO?

Illness risk vary significantly by gender and ethnicity. Employers need to explore and incorporate Personalized Wellness to support health of their diverse and global workforce. Companies like 3TandAi have ethnic and gender specific personalized wellness programs designed for success  and global network of CLIA certified lab partners. We  provide advanced tools to determine bio-individuality of your employees and their family, recommend food, exercise and health risk guidelines based on their genes, gut biome, ethnic risk factors and lifestyle.

Schedule a free consult.  

Credit: Kaixiong Ye, Cornell University/Map from www.outline-world-map.com

Author: Ranjan Sinha


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