Adding up the genetic risks and the role they play in Type 2 Diabetes.

Adding up the genetic risks and the role they play in Type 2 Diabetes.

Did you know that you can inherit a predisposition to type 2 diabetes and that it could be triggered by your environmental factors?

The most often asked question about diabetes is whether it is genetic or not. The answer to this question is more than a simple yes, or no, as it generally boils down to a combination of your genetic risk factors and environment. This is especially true for individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Knowing this allows us to analyze our risk factors and possibly prevent the disease, manage the disease and in some cases even reverse it.

To understand better, let’s discuss a few ABCs of DNA testing. Our DNA never changes. From the day you are born, your DNA will always stay the same, and no two individuals’ DNA is the same (with an exception of identical twins) making your results unique to you. Our genes work like triggers that can be switched on or off when exposed to certain environmental factors which may determine certain reactions.

There have been several gene mutations or variations that have been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. These genetic mutations can interact with your environment leading to the expression of the disease. Some of the most common environmental or epigenetic factors which can trigger disease expression due to mutations are diet, the timing of food intake, obesity, lack of micronutrient intake, stress, and chronic steroid use as well as others.

Genetic variations and environmental factors linked to type 2 diabetes

The more risk alleles a person carries, the higher their risk. Below are some genetic variations which have been linked to type 2 diabetes:

ADRB2 (A16G): The ADRB2 (A16G) gene is generally associated with an increased risk for insulin resistance in the presence of refined and excessive carbohydrate intake. If this mutation is detected lifestyle changes are needed to prevent weight gain. Individuals with this mutation generally have a slow weight loss rate so it is important for those with this mutation to consider a diet with less refined carbohydrates.

PPARG (Pro12Ala): The PPARG gene plays a role in the formation of fat cells, as well as the use of fats and carbohydrates as sources of energy. The specific C allele associated with this gene has an energy-saving factor as it is well known for converting excess food into body fat for energy storage. Known associations with this gene’s risk allele are an increased rate of fat cell formation, increased risk of weight gain particularly with high saturated fats as well as insulin resistance. Individuals with the Pro12Ala  mutation should consider a calorie-restricted diet, lower overall fat intake, as well as lower their intake of carbohydrates, as they have a higher risk for obesity. They should also consider a diet lower in polyunsaturated fats (oils which are usually liquid at room temperatures such as sunflower and canola oils) with moderate protein intake.

SLC2A2 (Thr110Ile) – The SLC2A2 gene enables glucose movement across all cell membranes.  It indicates the beginning of insulin secretion and the entry point of glucose into the pancreatic cells. This specific gene is furthermore essential in the postprandial state. The postprandial state is when blood glucose levels rise after eating and dips after eating a large meal. Individuals with the Thr110Ile mutation do not necessarily have to restrict carbohydrates for weight management.

IRS1 (T>C) – The IRS1 gene plays a crucial role in regulating the effects of insulin and is the major protein initiating the stimulation of glucose transport in both muscle and fatty tissues. It is associated with an increased risk for diabetes and insulin resistance as it plays an important role in the risk of conditions associated with defective carbohydrate metabolism. Individuals with IRS1 gene mutations are generally at risk for type 2 diabetes and should consider a diet that is lower in fat and higher in carbohydrates which are part of the low glycemic index. It may sound weird to say a higher carbohydrate diet but carbohydrates with a 55 or less glycemic index rating do not have the same effects on blood sugar levels.

TCF7L2 (C>T) – This gene has the strongest association with type 2 diabetes risk as it has a regulating effect on insulin secretion and glucose production. Individuals carrying TCF7L2 variations have a 50% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Factors that exacerbate the risk include obesity, abdominal fat distribution, family history, gestational diabetes, age, inactivity, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). TCF7L2 also may influence weight management and the regulation of energy intake.

DNA testing has evolved drastically over the last decade and it enables individuals to manage their health according to their unique needs. Knowing that you may have a predisposition for type 2 diabetes can assist you in making specific lifestyle changes that could help in preventing developing this condition helping you safeguard your future health.

GENEWAY offers a variety of genetic testing which screens for genetic variations allowing you to be proactive and apply recommended approaches to specific lifestyle changes.

GENEWAY also offers Carb Support – a supplement that benefits those diagnosed with diabetes or is insulin resistant. Carb Support supports healthy blood glucose levels as well as insulin sensitivity.

For more information visit www.geneway.com or contact us on 012 002 0533 or email: enquiries@geneway.co.za

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