It’s in the genes Rewire your me­tab­o­lism

No two peo­ple are the same – and nutri­tion­ist Susie Cle­land says this should ap­ply to our di­ets. She tells Kylie Bai­ley why meta­bolic typ­ing could be the ap­proach for you

Good Health Choices - - Contents - SUSIE CLE­LAND: SUNA PI­LATES

Hu­mans are amaz­ing in that each and every one of us is unique. This fact holds true for both our eat­ing habits and how we process food. What we eat, when we eat, how we eat, our ge­net­ics, our stress lev­els, our abil­ity to get a good night’s sleep, ex­er­cise and our gut health all in­ter­min­gle in a se­ries of com­plex equa­tions. In re­cent times, th­ese pro­cesses have been com­pli­cated fur­ther by the fact we live in a world in which food is avail­able 24/7, and we have ac­cess to every flavour combo imag­in­able.

It’s no sur­prise that all this over­sat­u­ra­tion has a dra­matic im­pact on our ge­netic ex­pres­sion; we’re ac­tu­ally train­ing our­selves to eat more. But although our en­vi­ron­ment has changed, our bod­ies have not. In an un­der­fed state, we have hor­monal sig­nals that re­lease stored nu­tri­ents. But when we break the neu­roreg­u­la­tion of our ap­petite – aka the body’s ap­petite con­trol – by chron­i­cally overeat­ing, we ac­tu­ally pro­duce a state in which the brain and liver think we’re starv­ing, de­spite be­ing awash with en­ergy from ex­cess food (see box over the page). Thank­fully, by recog­nis­ing the unique in­ter­ac­tions at play in our bod­ies – from our ge­net­ics to the health of our mi­cro­biome, ie the mi­cro-or­gan­isms in our body – we can take steps to ‘rewire’ our me­tab­o­lism and re­gain con­trol of our ap­petite.

Meta­bolic typ­ing

Un­der­stand­ing the mech­a­nisms at play is some­thing owner of Suna Pi­lates, Susie Cle­land, has spe­cialised in since start­ing her prac­tice 15 years ago. Susie uses the con­cept of meta­bolic typ­ing – the sci­en­tific method­ol­ogy for cus­tomised nutri­tion. This method­ol­ogy iden­ti­fies the best fuel types for a per­son’s me­tab­o­lism, to help clients un­der­stand the dif­fer­ent roles of carbs, fats and proteins.

“It’s about un­der­stand­ing what carbs do best and what carbs do worst, and then choos­ing to take in suf­fi­cient es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents, in­clud­ing pro­tein, fats, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als that sup­port our ac­tiv­ity, growth and re­pair,” says Susie, who is also a holis­tic life coach and ki­ne­si­ol­o­gist.

Susie says the con­cept of per­son­alised nutri­tion is gain­ing ground as more peo­ple be­gin to re­alise it’s up to them to take con­trol of their health and their en­vi­ron­ment. Whereas many nu­tri­tion­ists and di­eti­tians pre­scribe meal plans based on gen­er­alised per­cent­ages of proteins, fats and car­bo­hy­drates, meta­bolic typ­ing looks at how much of each we should be eat­ing based on both our bi­o­log­i­cal heritage, ie the ge­netic char­ac­ter­is­tics that have been passed down to us, and what’s hap­pen­ing in our en­vi­ron­ment.

Of­ten it’s a mis­match be­tween the type of fuel we are con­sum­ing, our ge­netic his­tory and our en­vi­ron­ment (both ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal) that causes the break­down of the body’s ap­petite con­trol, makes our hor­monal sig­nals go hay­wire and causes us to con­sume too much of the wrong types of food.

“We used to believe that what your DNA is, is what you’re stuck with. But when it comes to ge­net­ics, the big­gest in­di­ca­tor of ge­netic change is en­vi­ron­ment. It’s not just what we’re eat­ing or how we’re ex­er­cis­ing, it’s also our be­liefs, our words and our deeds.”

Re­gain­ing con­trol

So how do we eat in a way that’s in har­mony with our ge­net­ics?

“The idea is to eat a diet built around largely whole, un­pro­cessed foods that don’t cause dys­func­tion of the neu­roreg­u­la­tion of ap­petite,” says Susie. So although the de­tails of our diet will de­pend on our in­di­vid­ual meta­bolic type, Susie says there are some guide­lines that ap­ply across the board. Th­ese al­low us to op­ti­mise our­selves (men­tally and phys­i­cally) and our en­vi­ron­ment to help us re­train our ap­petites. This means opt­ing for meals that are sim­ple in tex­ture and flavour, that change with the sea­sons and where we have to ex­pend some amount of en­ergy be­fore we get the goods.

It’s also about hy­drat­ing our­selves well, re­duc­ing stress and in­creas­ing the amount of time we spend do­ing things that ac­ti­vate the parasym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem, like ex­er­cis­ing out­side, med­i­tat­ing, or so­cial­is­ing with friends.

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