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Your Spit Makes You Fat

Jeremy Hendon | November 13
Your Spit Makes You Fat

We’re quite a ways past the days of arguing whether or not carbs are evil. It’s pretty clear by now that there are healthy carbs (sweet potatoes, fruits, etc.) and unhealthy junk (breads, pastas, pastries, donuts, etc.).

But from anecdotal experience alone, it’s become pretty clear that some folks just don’t handle eating carbs as well as other folks. Even if they’re carbs from whole foods.

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And in fact, this may be due to a genetic predisposition:

Your Spit Makes You Fat

Low copy number of the salivary amylase gene predisposes to obesity

In the above article, published in Nature Genetics in March, researchers found that individuals with fewer copies of the salivary amylase gene were significantly more likely to become obese. (The study examined 6,200 individuals.)

The salivary amylase gene controls the production of amylase, which is an enzyme in our bodies (including in our mouths) that breaks starch down into sugar. And if you have fewer copies of the gene, then you aren’t able to break down carbs as well as someone who has more copies.

And because so much of standard diets around the world are based on starches like grains, being less able to break down carbs predisposes you to getting fatter.

Unless you do something about it, of course.

This Doesn’t Change Very Much

Genetic research is fascinating, and it’s going to change the future of medicine and health. However, no matter what the results are of a genetic study, you should probably take the same actions no matter what.

If you’re genetically less at risk of cancer or heart disease, you should still eat and live in a way that minimizes your risk. So really, the results don’t change behavior very much.

But this study is a good reminder that maybe some people need to tweak how much starch (even things like potatoes and rice) they’re taking in, because it’s quite possible that they’re just not breaking it down as efficiently.

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