Genes and their functions are key determinants of cellular and tissue development. Genome-wide studies in different populations have established major links between various diseases and gene regulation. However, the epigenome can alter many mechanisms in the human body, such as DNA methylation and fat metabolism.
Adipose tissue metabolism operates through various hormones, enzymes, and organs and is largely responsible for blood sugar levels (glucose homeostasis), cardiovascular health, body composition and more. Lifestyle factors such as physical activity and diet affect metabolism, almost as equally as genetic factors. A recent study analyzed the effect of a six-month exercise routine on DNA methylation patterns in 31 healthy male subjects. About 50% of the study population had a family history of Type 2 Diabetes, although there was no difference in DNA methylations between the two groups, before the experiment. DNA methylation was analyzed before and after the exercise regimen. When the overall effect was considered, the physiological result was highly significant. A decrease in waist/hip ratio, waist circumference, blood pressure and increase in VO2 and HDL levels were some of the changes seen in all the study individuals, after six months.
This proves that epigenetic contributions can be studied for improving overall health for individuals susceptible to a particular condition, by targeting the right cellular pathway to provide long-lasting results.
Tips for Healthy Metabolism
- Work very hard for the first three months. Never skip a workout. Schedule other activities around your exercise routine.
- Add the workout time as one of the Everyday essentials, like how you know you will need one hour to shower/breakfast etc. Sacrifice some other luxuries. If you are free and if haven’t exercised in a while, do it first. You will automatically enjoy dressing up and going out even more!
- Cheat meals are for those who have comparatively lesser weight to lose. If you are someone who needs to lose >10-15 kg, you really cannot afford to indulge a lot, especially in the first few weeks. At least not till the kilos start disappearing from the scale, on a regular monitoring basis. Only then, you know your body is responding.
- Count calories but eat the right kind of calories. Very cliché, but all or most of your calories must be from vegetables, fruits, natural foods and no baked, processed or junk food. In addition, when you know you are full but want to snack, Google up healthy alternatives for snacking. You need no help there. And yes, drink more water. You lose minerals when you increase the intensity of exercising, with the sweat you produce.
- Keep your mind and body connected when you exercise. The body gives up first. But your mind can train your body to do more. You alone can make your body become whatever you want it to be. Trust that your body listens to you.
- Diet wise, anything that is cooked well and nutritious is fine. If you are someone who has a huge number of pounds to lose, understand that a calorie deficit is necessary for the stored fat to go away. When people tell you are wrong to starve ourselves, inform them that you are eating the same calories, but the right ones.
- When with friends/family, say ”no” to what you do not want to eat if you think it will hinder your weight loss. They will not like you any less.
- Feel happy after you exercise. It will help you stay disciplined to maintain a regular plan to stay fit.
- Like how you will never completely stop watching movies, or shopping, or even meeting your friends, or eat chocolate (yes, after a few months, depending on your results, you will not need anyone’s advice to watch your weight), make exercise and eating healthy a lifelong lifestyle adaptation.
- Eat one good thing every day. Like a special fruit or a cup of tea (herbal teas are actually very good for your cells).
Whether it takes six months or a year, it does not matter. If you know you are exercising regularly, that is enough. It automatically tunes your brain to choose the right kind and quantity of food, thus improving metabolism.
Even on days when you binge, do not feel guilty or fret about it. Regular exercise improves metabolism and saves you from storing up fat too.
The best feeling in the world is when you work hard and the mirror smiles back at you. It is not only for skinny jeans. You will ward off a million bad things away by making exercise a longtime habit.