12 January - 20 June 2016

One diet may not fit all

Findings from a mouse study have indicated that genetics may affect how our bodies respond to a diet. The study published in the journal Genetics notes that over the last century diet-induced metabolic disease has increased, despite universal dietary recommendations

Findings from a mouse study have indicated that genetics may affect how our bodies respond to a diet. The study published in the journal Genetics notes that over the last century diet-induced metabolic disease has increased, despite universal dietary recommendations.

Barrington et al. sought to investigate the effect of five different diets on four different groups of mice models over a six month period. One strain of mouse, B6, often used in studies,  is susceptible to diet induced obesity on a high-fat high sugar diet, the FVB strain is more resistant to obesity and is very active, the A strain is resistant to diet induced obesity even though it has low levels of activity and NOD strain is predisposed to develop diabetes. The genetic differences within each group were almost non-existent, while the genetics between any two of the groups would translate to roughly the same as those of two unrelated people. Diets investigated included the Mediterranean diet (wheat and red wine extract), a Japanese diet (rice and green tea extract), a Ketogenic diet (high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates), an American diet which was high in fat and refined carbohydrates, and a control diet of commercial chow.  The authors note that the “diets were designed to recapitulate human diets as closely as possible matching macronutrient ratio, fibre content, types of ingredients and fatty acids ratios to the human diets.”

The scientists report that the A strain mice fed the American diet had increased metabolic rate and increased their water consumption. Whilst the NOD strain mice were reported to have decreased their food intake and like the A strain increased their water intake.  The American diet increased body fat in all groups with the effect being greatest in the B6 mice. In all groups LDL cholesterol was increased after being fed the American diet as well as total cholesterol.  Although HDL cholesterol was only increased in B6, FVB and NOD strains.  The team examined liver triglyceride concentration and found that levels were high across all strains.  The team examined liver metabolite levels as these have been associated with increased risk of metabolic disease.  They found that the B6 mice had a total of 16 known metabolites, compared to FVB 5 and NOD 5. 

When the authors compared the effect of the other diets with the American diet they report that physical activity was not altered by diet.  The ketogenic diet improved body composition for B6 and A mice but was “detrimental for NOD and FVB mice.”  This diet also impacted glucose, strongly benefiting B6 mice, mildly benefiting A mice but with no improvement in FVB and detrimental in NOD mice. 

The Mediterranean diet, whilst not improving body composition in all strains, it improved liver health in A and FVB mice, with the FVB mice also having improved lipid profiles.  Whilst it improved glucose metabolism in B6 it was detrimental for A strain mice. 

All strains were reported to have improved body composition after consuming the Japanese diet and for B6 and NOB mice this diet also provided the greatest improvement in glucose metabolism.   The diet was also found to improve liver health in FVB and NOD strains but had detrimental effect in the A strain mice. 

Based on the findings Barrington et al. note that “only the ketogenic diet improved health for the A strain; both the Japanese and Ketogenic diets improved health in the B6 strain; and the Japanese diet improved health in FVB and NOD mice”.  They conclude by stating that their study demonstrates “that the health effect of several popular human dietary patterns are dependent on genetic backgrounds.” They state in a press release that one diet may make an individual lean and healthy but might have the complete opposite effect for another.  

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