Owning a gene is only half the story

yeast reproduction influenced by genesDo you feel like you inherited a pile of “BAD” GENES, maybe a set of “FAT” GENES.

I’ve got good news and bad news.  The assortment that you inherited can definitely make you ill and pack on the pounds, but it really is not quite as black and white.  The presence or absence of a gene is beyond a doubt significant, but what really counts, is how your genes, play the game.

No such thing as a BAD gene

The environment in which a gene finds itself determines how it plays the game.  The idea of BAD GENES and GOOD GENES is too simplistic.  You need the RIGHT gene for a particular environment.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine  verified this for a gene which controls the rate of sexual reproduction in the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

There are four possibilities

The gene responsible for controlling the efficiency of sexual reproduction in yeast, comes in four distinct versions.   Each version has one nucleotide that is different, geneticists refer to these one base differences as SNPs i.e. single nucleotide polymorphisms.

Each yeast carries two copies of the gene, so mixing and matching means that there are 16 different ways to arrange this gene.

The researchers used genetic tools to create all the possibilities  in two strains of yeast.  One was a bit of a drinker, it came from a vineyard,  the other was more up right and solid in character having been isolated from an oak tree.  

Reproduction on steroids

The researchers then started watching how efficiently the yeast cells produced spores , in glucose.

In a word, chaos ensued.  The vineyard strain responded differently to the oak strain.  It took a very fancy statistical package to put two and two together and plot the connections and make accurate predictions.

But the computer could not cope when the researchers popped the yeast into alternative sugars.  A combination which produced a 40 % efficiency in glucose, sky rocketed to 80 % efficiency in raffinose.  The performance of the genes changed dramatically depending on what the yeast was eating.

What was “bad” combination in one strain, ended up being a “good” combination in the other.   Combinations that were “good” in one sugar, were disastrous in the next.

different diet different outcome

No such thing as a bad gene

The exercise with yeast served to confirm – there is no such thing as BAD genes.  The problems arise when there is a mismatch between the gene and the environment.

And figuring it out – is a nightmare in yeast, a relatively simple single cell organism.

The environment and human genes

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.  This is going to be a tough nut to crack.

Humans have  lots of genes and a lot of environments and the million dollar question is which environment really counts ? 

 Genetic destiny is about epigenetics

 So, those BAD GENES you despise are not inherently bad.  Your environment is BAD for those genes.   

Living in optimal health is about matching your environment to your genes.   It is never going to be a one size fits all, but a little tweaking here and there can end up being a game changer.

The 7 Big Spoons are master regulators of many genes so a good place to start “fixing” the gene-environment disconnect, is to make sure you’ve got the 7 Big Spoons working for you.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

 Gene-environment interactions at nucleotide resolution. PLoS Genetics, 2010; 6 (9): e1001144 Justin Gerke, Kim Lorenz, Shelina Ramnarine, Barak Cohen.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001144

Interested in learning more about how youre genes determine your chemistry ?

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Further reading

high carb diet sets genes alight hearts and christmas lights bad eicosanoid climbing out margarine tub
Your genes want you to line up your plate using the rule of thirds Your lifestyle turns the lights off in your heart Margarine is a bigger menace for blacks than whites

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Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below

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