‘Atkins Gene’ found in saliva can control your weight

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Your saliva may hold the secret to remaining slender.

Recent studies have shown that a gene that produces a carbohydrate-busting compound may play a huge role in weight. It has been nicknamed the Atkins Gene in some settings, but the nickname it has been given officially is AMY1.

The gene produces an enzyme which is present in saliva. It commences the breakdown and the digestion of starch-based foods, such as rice, crisps and chips.

The study indicated that individuals with more copies of this particular gene produced more enzymes and were more likely to remain slim. Scientists have stated that genes normally come in pairs, but some individuals hold a single copy of a particular gene. Others may have two of the gene, three or sometimes more than that. As far as the AMY1 gene goes, it is possible for an individual to hold up to 20 copies.

Individuals who hold fewer copies of AMY1 often find it more difficult to digest carbohydrates and this causes more weight gain.

Scientists are not certain why this occurs, but it may be possible that the starch which remains undigested is attacked by the bacteria in the stomach which boosts obesity by confusing the metabolism.

The researchers from Imperial College London and King’s College London have stated that future advice related to dietary may have to be based on a person’s digestive system.
The joint lead author of the study, Professor Tim Spector, has stated that the findings are extremely exciting.

The next step for the researchers is to try and discover more details regarding the digestive enzymes’ activities. This may prove to be a useful discovery in the treatment of obesity.

It may be possible for a simple saliva or blood test to measure the levels of important enzymes in a person’s body and be able to draft diet advice for overweight as well as underweight patients.

The scientists have stated that treatment plans are a long way off, but this first step is important as it has indicated that everyone digests and metabolises food in a different way. This will allow professionals to make a shift from one diet fits all approaches to more personalised diet advice.

Image credit: CGP Grey

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