Switch on your skinny gene

The 5:2 approach. Eliminating sugar from our lives. The paleolithic diet. Argh!

Most of us want to be slim, fit and healthy, but with so much different (and often conflicting) advice bombarding us on an almost-daily basis, it can be hard to know where to start.

Is that morning glass of orange juice one of your five a day, or is it packed with sugar which will give you a mid-morning slump?

Should you eat carbs after 6pm?

Are eggs good or bad these days?

Well, I’d like to help you through these conundrums to find a simpler, more realistic approach to your nutritional health.

And here’s the good news – you don’t need to spend hours poring over the diet books, because all of us possess something known as a ‘skinny’ gene (yes really!).

The official name is the SIRT1 gene – and it’s also sometimes referred to as the anti-ageing gene. Essentially it’s what keeps us healthy, helps us live longer lives and protects us from disease.

But if we all posses this gene why aren’t we all slim and living to a hundred? Well, you need to fire up this gene, nurture it and keep it active, and there are some fairly simple ways you can do this.

The first way is to try to eat less on certain days.

Of course, this fits in with the 5:2 and paleolithic approach – dating back to the days we were hunter gatherers and didn’t always have enough food. The thing to remember is that it’s important to keep all of your food intake highly nutritious, so you aren’t craving junk food on the days you eat less.

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This is backed up by research from the 80s, when researchers found amazing longevity in animals when they were fed highly nutritious foods but restricted on the number of calories.

The second way is to do more exercise (sorry).

The more you do, the more your skinny gene will kick in – so aim for three times a week, and try to vary your routine. Mixing it up a bit keeps your body guessing about what’s coming next. 

Thirdly, the science – resveratrol

Hmm, so eat less and exercise more. Hardly groundbreaking at the moment. But here’s the science… a substance called resveratrol is the third thing which can activate your skinny gene. It’s found naturally in green vegetables, mulberries, citrus fruits, red grapes and good-quality red wines (hurrah!).

Harvard Medical School researchers have shown that resveratrol activates the SIRT1 gene (skinny gene) in yeast, extending life span by as much as 50 per cent. So resveratrol can switch on both your skinny gene and your survival gene, which also has a knock-on effect on many other genes that help programme you for longer life.

Resveratrol is available in supplements, so I take 100mg a day.

Combine this with a highly nutritious diet, eating less every other day and taking plenty of exercise and your skinny gene will soon be switched on and raring to go…

There’s more research being done, but certainly worth checking it out.

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About Julie Parry-Jones

I'm passionate about health and wellbeing, working to promote the huge benefits of preventative health care by having the right information to make informed decisions about health and lifestyle. When I'm not doing that, I love spending special days with my lovely granddaughter!