Genetics are an amazing thing. Think about it: they dictate what color your eyes are, your height potential, your general demeanor– and now, researchers claim they influence what type of “microbes will populate your stomach.”
OK…so what? Well, so everything– because it could mean the difference between wearing your skinny jeans every day and being stuck in your fat sweats forevermore, offers research published in the journal Cell.
Sorry, singing fat lady– maybe it wasn’t your fault after all.
But how did researchers make the connection? First off, they examined the microbial composition of more than 1,000 fecal samples obtained from 416 pairs of twins (imagine how long it must’ve taken to find them!). Identical twins, who are characterized by sharing “100 percent of their genetic makeup,” had nearly-identical gut bacteria compared with their fraternal twins, who only shared roughly 50 percent of the same genes.
To this point, “variation in the abundances of gut microbes” has always been explained by factors such as a person’s diet, immediate environment, health, and overall lifestyle, offers Ruth Ley, PhD, a leading researcher in the department of molecular biology and genetics at Cornell University. According to her, this study serves as the first of its kind to “firmly establish” that many kinds of gut microbes are inherited— meaning that their “variation across a population” is at least partially because of “host genotype variation,” and not merely outside environmental influences.
Specifically, members of a family of bacteria known as Christensenellacae were influenced the most by genetics. To be clear, thinner individuals were found to be more likely to have an abundance of this kind of gut microbe compared with obese people. Furthermore, during a follow-up study involving mice, the researchers realized that giving mice this kind of bacteria helped keep them from putting on weight!
As someone who was born to a bigger family– both height-wise and weight-wise– it’s been a constant battle keeping my fitness level intact. Now, I understand that that may very well be because of my genetics– but it hasn’t hindered me from achieving my personal fitness goals, no matter how hard they might seem for me compared with someone who has “thinner” genes.
My persistence has paid off, as I’m of normal weight(BMI: just over 23). Whatever the case, you don’t have to let your genes dictate who you are!
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