9.10.2008

Stand Aside South Beach and Atkins Diets: it's the Amish Diet
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Amish barn raising from taratara 69

The Amish of Pennsylvania, according to an extensive study of 704 subjects, are 30% more likely to carry a gene known as FTO linked to obesity, along with others of similar European ancestry. This gene, which regulates a kind of protein production, is linked to food intake, and predisposes individuals to gain weight. But obesity is less of a problem with the Amish than with typical suburbanites. Why is that?

Think about getting together and framing a barn or working in the field.

It turns out brisk exercise of 3 to four hours a day shuts off the propensity to accumulate weight. It may be that this is a genetic adaptation that helped people to survive in conditions of scarcity, not unlike mutations of the APOE gene, which in its APOEe4 variant, appears to have helped children survive by metabolizing scare food supplies - with the side effect of being linked to cognitive decline in later years.

Can people go back to a nineteenth century lifestyle, when individuals were much thinner?

Not really. But they can walk or cycle on routine daily trips instead of drive, take a walk instead of watching tv, play sports such as tennis, garden, and do chores. With this level of physical activity, you could indeed consume a hearty, but not unhealthy diet and still lose weight.

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