Understanding your personal AHSG and body fat trait

Wednesday, July 06, 2022. Author Alex Auld

Woman testing stomach body fat levels with a calipers

Last week’s trait release focused on the potentially harmful effects of the protein fetuin-A. Produced by the liver and fat tissue, increased levels of this protein are associated with increased weight and levels of body fat. 

While it may intuitively appear that high fetuin-A levels are a result of increased levels of fat, a key study which examined the relationship between the two concluded that higher fetuin-A levels were in fact a contributing cause of increased weight gain. 

As highlighted in greater detail in the AHSG and body fat science blog, fetuin-A promotes the accumulation of fat through four related mechanisms:

  • Impairing insulin sensitivity
  • Promoting chronic inflammation
  • Altering fat metabolism
  • Reducing the production of adiponectin - a hormone which enhances insulin sensitivity

 

The AHSG gene

Fetuin-A is encoded by the AHSG gene, with variants of AHSG resulting in differing production levels of the protein. Due to the effects of fetuin-A, genotypes that are associated with greater production levels of the protein are at a greater risk of fat accumulation. 

The AHSG variant associated with this increased risk is the ‘C’ allele, with carriers of the alternative ‘T’ allele constantly found to produce lower levels of fetuin-A. 

From the three possible combinations of these two alleles (CC, TC, TT), the FitnessGenes team have devised three possible AHSG and body fat trait bands, between which all members are grouped:

  1. Reduced protection against high body fat (CC)
  2. Slightly reduced protection against high body fat (TC)
  3. Increased protection against high body fat (TT)

 

Detailing the trait bands

1. Reduced protection against high body fat (CC)

Members belonging to this band carry two copies of the ‘C’ risk allele, and as a result, are likely to have the highest levels of fetuin-A and are at the greatest risk of increased body fat. This risk can be further enhanced if carriers self-report as being overweight or obese.

This band is heavily populated, with approximately 45% of FitnessGenes members carrying two copies of the ‘C’ risk allele. 

2. Slightly reduced protection against high body fat (TC)

Members in the second trait band are at a relatively lower risk of increased body fat compared to those above due to the fact that they carry one copy of the ‘T’ allele, which is associated with lower fetuin-A levels. They are, however, still likely to have lower insulin sensitivity compared to the TT genotype, which can promote fat accumulation. 

There are slightly fewer members that occupy this band, with approximately 42% of members carrying one copy of each allele. 

3. Increased protection against high body fat

Finally, members of this third trait band are at the lowest risk of elevated fetuin-A levels and increased body fat due to carrying two copies of the advantageous ‘T’ allele. The TT genotype has been associated with lower levels of visceral fat and greater leanness, with one study finding that lean subjects were 1.74 times more likely to have the TT genotype compared to obese sujects

This is the least populated band, containing just over 10% of FitnessGenes members.

 

Lowering your fetuin-A levels

If you have found yourself in the first two of these trait bands, you’ll understandably be wanting to find ways to reduce your fetuin-A levels and risk of weight gain. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most effective ways to achieve this is through regular exercise. Being active for at least 30 minutes for 5 days a week has shown to reduce fetuin-A levels, while also contributing to weight loss. 

There are also dietary actions which you can implement to lessen your risk. 

Both dairy and red grapes have been shown to reduce fetuin-A levels, so increasing your intake of both can help to limit its effects on your body fat levels. 

Supplementing with probiotics that contain the healthy gut bacteria Lactobacillus casei is also a recommended way to reduce fetuin-A levels and help to regulate blood glucose levels more efficiently. Lactobacillus casei can be found in popular yoghurt and fermented milk drinks, such as Actimel and Yakult.

 

Discover your personal AHSG and body fat trait

Ready to discover your personal fetuin-A production levels and weight gain risk?

Become a FitnessGenes member by purchasing your DNA analysis or DNA upload product today to unlock AHSG and body fat alongside 125+ health, nutrition, and fitness-related traits.

 

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