Why does every new diet promise to be the life-altering, amazing diet you absolutely have to try to believe? Everyday Einstein shares a secret about diets that will blow your mind.
Remember the food pyramid? What about the grapefruit diet, the no-carb diet, the Mediterranean diet, the Paleo diet, the smoothie diet, vegan diets, kosher diets, low-cholesterol diets, the no-wheat diet, and the Norwegian fish-mongers diet (OK, I made that last one up). It seems like everywhere you turn these days, new diets are crawling out of the woodwork.
Have you ever wondered just why there are so many diets - and that, somehow, each one is going to be amazing and life-altering?.
I’m going to let you in on the big secret here. It’s a secret that everyone working in genetics knows about, and which we continue to find more and more evidence for. Decades of multi-billion dollar research has gone into uncovering this one startling fact that is going to blow your mind:
Everyone is different. And so is each individual's metabolism.
Boom. I just blew your mind, didn’t I?
One of These Things Is Not Like the Other…
Chances are, this is the very reason why the Paleo diet might work great for your neighbor, but leaves you feeling cranky and irritable. And it's why your best friend got a supermodel, body-builder physique by eating a vegan diet for a week, while the only thing you got was an upset stomach.
Everyone is different. And so is each individual's metabolism. Boom. I just blew your mind, didn’t I?
To be a little more scientific about things, your metabolism is influenced by at least 4 different factors:
External modifications to your DNA that you inherited from your parents.
External modifications to your DNA that occur during your own life.
The current population of microbes in your gut, which can change over the course of your life.
Your DNA, (variously referred to as your genes, your genotype, your genetic makeup, or what you inherited from Uncle George), controls a large part of what your body is capable of. This is what most people think of when we consider what makes them different from others, but is almost always ignored in dietary studies.
The second and third items on our list are collectively called epigenetics. Sometimes item 2 is referred to as genetic imprinting. It turns out that aside from the DNA you got from your parents, some aspect of their behavior can cause chemical changes to the DNA they passed on to you.
What makes these changes distinct from just being part of your DNA is that they aren’t part of your genetic sequence. Instead, they’re little chemical bits that get attached to your DNA at various locations. These changes can affect how your DNA deals with certain stimuli, including metabolic stimuli.
As an interesting side note, everyone used to believe in genetic imprinting. But then the consensus was that it was all hogwash. But, now, it turns out that some parts of it were true all along. As you might imagine, the story is a bit more complicated than that, but this is a good reason why you should always rely on only the most up-to-date science textbooks from your local library.
See also: How the Media Sensationalizes Science