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The Daily Telegraph (Australia)

Diets designed by gene-type

By Ellen Connolly

March 15, 2009 12:00am

HAVING trouble fitting into those skinny-leg Sass & Bides? It might be time to look at your genes.

For years we’ve been told “you are what you eat”, but anyone who has watched a friend devour mountains of food without putting on an ounce of weight will find this theory hard to swallow.

Indeed, scientists are now discovering that a person’s ability to gain and lose weight is closely linked to their genetic make-up.

As a result, it won’t be too long before doctors can take genetic profiles of their patients and provide dietary plans for optimal health and weight loss.

Naturopathic physician (aka diet guru), Dr Peter D’Adamo, is already prescribing in this way and gaining a loyal following, even from perpetual dieter Opray Winfrey.

D’Adamo’s latest book, The GenoType Diet (Broadway), loosely based on his bestseller, Eat Right For Your (blood) Type (Putnam Adult), suggests that eating certain foods based on your genetic make-up is the key to staying trim and living a long life.

He identifies six basic gene types and provides customised food plans for each one, emphasising the foods and supplements that “will work best” for weight loss and prevent diseases such as cancer.

“Most significantly, it decides which foods will help you lose weight and achieve vitality, and which illnesses you’re most at risk of,” Dr D’Adamo says.

Custom-made diets

Dr D’Adamo explains that an individual’s DNA is unique, and that is why a “one size fits all diet” is ineffective.

While nutritionists are quick to label the theory “another gimmick”, two recent landmark studies have found that an individual’s genes have a lot to do with how their bodies react to certain foods.

A study of 32,000 people by the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometic Traits, found six genes linked to appetite control and obesity, five of which ar e active in the brain.

Geneticist Jose Ordovas says research is uncovering the complex interactions between diet and a person’s DNA, which could lead to “more personalised advice about what to eat and drink to stave off heart disease, cancer and other chronic conditions”.

“We are trying to put more science behind the nutrition,” Ordovas says.

In future, scientists hope to use gene technology to promote weight loss.

“We want to finally understand... why a low-fat diet may not work for some but works for others,” Ordovas says.

Which genotype are you?

The Hunter
  • Tall and thin, full of nervous energy and prone
  • to allergies and asthma.
  • Eat: Meat-rich, low-gluten foods.
  • Superfoods: Beef, lamb, salmon, hard cheese, wild/brownrice, artichokes, broccoli, grapefruit.
  • Avoid: Nuts, grains, wheat, sugary foods, soft cheese.
The Teacher
  • Strong and sinewy, with great stamina.
  • Eat: White meat and fish.
  • Superfoods: Turkey, white fish, black beans, peanuts, peas, tofu, flaxseeds
  • Avoid: Sugary food, white carbohydrates, red meat.
The Explorer
  • Muscular, broad shoulders, narrow hips and low body fat.
  • Eat: Legumes, liver, beans, cheese and meat.
  • Superfoods: Liver, lamb, ricotta, mozzarella, lentils, parsnips, ginger, raspberries.
  • Avoid: Alcohol and caffeine.
The Gatherer
  • Full-figured, gains weight easily, has trouble processing alcohol and caffeine.
  • Eat: High-protein, low-GI.
  • Superfoods: Liver, lamb, ricotta, mozzarella, lentils, parsnips, ginger, raspberries.
  • Avoid: Fried and microwaved food.