How do different dietary fats affect our genes?

Medium chain triglycerides

At FitnessGenes™, we are constantly and tirelessly scouring the scientific literature for research showing any effect of changes in diet, exercise activity, or supplements on genes or on any trait that is known to be affected by our genes. A very interesting study conducted in the Netherlands a few years ago looked at how eating a combination of polyunsaturated fats (especially omega-3), MCT oil, and CLA could improve health and weight loss in overweight versus normal-weight subjects, specifically looking at genetic responses.

Most of us have heard of omega-3 (the fats found in fish oil and flax), MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). These fats have unique properties. Omega-3 is essential for good health and dozens of other benefits. MCTs are basically fats with short carbon chains, which means that they are absorbed and metabolised differently than other fats. Several studies also show that they can increase fat burning and can’t directly be stored in our fat cells. CLA has been studied for years for its fat-loss effects. Anyhow, when the polyunsaturated/MCT/CLA fat combination was compared to the combination of typical fats that might be eaten at breakfast, it was found that in overweight people, the subjects who ate the special combination of fats for nine days experienced increased calorie-burning activity and decreased inflammation versus those who ate the typical fats. And this study used a technique called biopsy, which measured actual gene activity in the subject’s fat cells, so the results are extremely reliable. Here’s what the researchers said:

Expression of inflammatory genes was down-regulated and expression of lipid metabolism genes was up-regulated in the majority of overweight subjects

These results just add to the evidence that already exists, which shows that improving the quality of fats in the diet can improve fat loss in some people and they also add to the body of research showing that certain fats have specific effects on gene expression!

Best Wishes


Written by Mark Gilbert

Sunday, February 23, 2014