Chew your food 20 times, a dash of lemon in hot water to start your day; they’re the little health tips passed on through generations of Australian families, begrudgingly followed and seldom taken seriously.
But now scientists specialising in DNA research into human health and well-being can happily report that these so called “wives’ tales” have some solid scientific backing.
“It’s a bit like finding out it’s true that if you pull a face and the wind changes it’ll stay like that,” Fitgenes’ Scientist Dr Darren Schliebs said.
“There are quite a few quirky things that we all probably dismissed back in the day, and may have been lost in current generations, but there is now good scientific evidence gathered through our genetic research that shows what our parents and grandparents nagged us about was actually very beneficial to our health.”
“Our genetic work has shown that these old tricks may have an impact on how we process foods and maintain a healthy weight,” he said.
Australian-based company Fitgenes specialises in DNA based solutions for people struggling with weight loss, and while applying research on a gene called “AMY 1” – responsible for the production of enzymes that breakdown starchy carbohydrates – some age-old, everyday remedies emerged.
“We can measure a client’s genetic ability to process carbohydrates through a simple home DNA test, but we weren’t prepared to just cut our customers loose with no guidance on how they can improve their ability to lose weight,” Dr Schliebs said.
“So we set about finding accessible, everyday ways that people can increase production of a carb processing enzyme called amylase, and that’s when we found that these traditional remedies were actually a very efficient and effective way to increase amylase levels, and in turn improve carb-processing ability.”
“We found prolonged chewing of food increases amylase production in your mouth, as does consumption of citric acid, which is prevalent in lemons, passionfruit and grapefruit; even a dash of vinegar in water is something we also recommend, something I remember my own grandparents used to encourage me to do,” Dr Schliebs said.
“The first step though is to determine the body’s natural, genetic ability to process carbohydrates, and we can now do that through a simple, home DNA test called ‘CarbChoice’, which we have developed and recently launched,” Dr Schliebs said.
Top 5 tips on improving your starchy carbohydrate processing ability:
- Chew each mouthful for 25 to 30 seconds
- Before eating high starch meals, consume foods or drinks that increase amylase production – citric acid drinks, acidic fruits e.g. lemons, passionfruit, mandarins, grapefruit
- Before eating high starch meals, avoid foods or drinks that inhibit amylase production– strawberries, blueberries, pumpkin, black tea, red wine
- Avoid smoking (amylase inhibitor) before a high starch meal, or better, stop smoking.
- Consume higher starch meals towards the end of the day or after 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise.
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