Tuesday, September 24, 2013

DNA, ostriches and how to reduce cholesterol

Sponsored Series by Nuffnang Australia


HeartActive is a delicious, 99% fat free milk enriched with plant sterols, which are proven to help reduce cholesterol. Research shows that consuming plant sterols everyday in milk can reduce cholesterol by an average of 10% in three weeks.  HeartActive is currently available in a 1L carton with an extended shelf life (45 days from production) compared to regular white milks with a shelf life of 14 days.


Back in the day - well, in 2008, to be precise - I got interested in genetic testing and the science of nutrigenomics. If you've been a reader for a while, you may remember that I had a Fitgenes genetic profile completed, which tested a limited number of genes that have an impact on fitness, body fat and muscle gains. It was fascinating stuff and I was disappointed that getting a full DNA profile wasn't possible at the time, due to cost.

I hadn't given it much thought recently, so I was both surprised and excited when Sara blogged about her recent experience with the new and improved genetic profiling services available today. For only $180, she got details relevant to hundreds of health risks, inherited conditions and other traits that are all locked up in her DNA. I am SO getting me one of those tests!

The possibility of DNA testing always raises the question: What if you find out that you have a high risk of developing a previously unknown serious health condition? My answer: Well, what if?

The way I see it is this: The condition (or risk of developing it) is there anyway. Not knowing about doesn't change anything. And the benefit of knowing is that the risks posed by most negative genetic variations can be negated or at least decreased by modifying your lifestyle and your approach to nutrition. That does not usually mean making huge and unpleasant sacrifices, by the way. When I had my Fitgenes test done, I discovered that I had a couple of negative gene variations which put me at risk for heart disease. The solutions were to exercise daily, eat more veggies, take some B vitamins and fish oil. Ha! I was already doing all those things...so, see? No drama whatsoever.

Take my familial tendency to high cholesterol as an example. Let's assume that my genes are responsible for that little gem. Because they probably are. Imagine that my genetic profile comes back with WARNING, WARNING!! Tendency to high blood cholesterol! High risk of heart disease! stamped in red all over it (I'm sure they don't actually do that, but you get my drift...). I could impersonate an ostrich and stick my head in the sand... but then, if I was going to do that, I wouldn't have got the test done in the first place, would I?

Don't be an ostrich about the risk of high cholesterol. Or other health concerns.
(image source: Wikimedia)

No, what I would do is find out what lifestyle and/or nutrition changes I could adopt that would help to lower my cholesterol - or lower the risk of developing high cholesterol, if it hadn't already happened.

So, how to reduce cholesterol? One easy thing that anyone can do is to up your consumption of cholesterol-lowering foods. That includes things like:

Plenty of veggies, fruit and legumes
Whole grains, particularly oats
Moderate amounts of lean meat, fish and poultry
Reduced or low fat dairy products
Moderate amounts of good fats
Plenty of water
Foods with added plant sterols - like Heart Active milk, for instance.



Human genetics is a complicated beast. And yet the solutions to so many of the health issues that are influenced by the genes our parents gave us (thanks, Mum and Dad!) involve stupidly simple things like eating your veggies. Plants really are the bees knees when it comes to improving your health from the inside out. They're packed full of good stuff like vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and those cholesterol-lowering sterols.

Whatever your genes predict, you'd be a dummy to ignore healthy living guidelines anyway.  Eat well, have an occasional serve of cake or ice cream, move your butt regularly, get plenty of sleep, relax and don't stress about little things and you're likely to live a longer, healthier, happier life.

You can treat that as a prescription. :o)


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HeartActive is a delicious, 99% fat free milk enriched with plant sterols, which are proven to help reduce cholesterol. Research shows that consuming plant sterols everyday in milk can reduce cholesterol by an average of 10% in three weeks. HeartActive is currently available in a 1L carton with an extended shelf life (45 days from production) compared to regular white milks with a shelf life of 14 days.

3 comments:

Debbish said...

Oh, I like the idea of the genetic profiling. I guess there are some things you can't change, but some you can act on or mitigate in some way.

Fortunately high cholesterol doesn't run in my family, but high BP and heart issues most certainly do!

Magda said...

Now that's my sort of prescription and I'm finding that it works for me. Regardless, I have an annual check up to make sure everything is ticking along as well as it should be. Any problems can then be detected early and rectified quickly. Whilst my parents both have high cholesterol, mine is still ok :-) And now with mum being a Type 2 diabetic, my risk of developing that nasty condition is 40%. Healthy lifestyle is where its at!!

Sara said...

Phytosterols are one of those things with heaps of good science behind them. You should aim for 800mg a day from various sources but it's quite hard to get that from food alone (nuts have a lot though).

23 and Me was well worth the money. I'd recommend it, if you are not squeamy about what it might reveal (I'm definitely not). :D

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