Trading diet and weight loss advice is something of a cultural pastime. We exchange tips about low-carb, high-fiber, gluten-free, and other special diets with each other all the time — as if one single change could be the answer to our diet dilemma.
But no two people can get the same results from the same lifestyle hack. We all have different bodies — and different DNA. And one company believes that acknowledging our basic differences is key to ending the guesswork when it comes to what we should be eating.
For $299, Habit sends you a kit that includes the ingredients for a special shake. After you drink it, you prick your finger and send blood samples and cheek swabs to their lab. (You also fill out information about your lifestyle and activities on their app.)
At the lab, they test for over 60 biomarkers, which measure how your body processes fats and carbs, your sensitivities, and how much protein you “should” be getting. And they also measure what your gene variants are related to heart health, physical strength, vitamin levels, and more.
After analyzing your metabolism and your genetic makeup, Habit then groups you into one of seven “habit types,” like “plant seekers,” who can load up on carbohydrates, or “protein seekers,” who should focus on fish and low-carb diet plans.
But does the road to healthy eating truly lie in your DNA? Past research has certainly suggested that genetics do play a role in how the body reacts to food. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also posits that a person’s weight isn’t just down to environmental factors alone — genetics do play a role.
But not so fast…
But both the Academy and past researchers urge caution when it comes to paying for these sorts of solutions. Nutritional genomics research is still in its very early stages. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing in the United States isn’t closely regulated, either.
Not to mention, the genetic and environmental factors that could dictate what types of food our bodies are best equipped to process go far beyond the few considered by at-home testing kits.
Lucky for us, several diet plans can, and do, work. And some, like the Mediterranean, low-carb, paleo, and vegan diets, are backed by actual science. The Mediterranean diet, specifically — loaded with quality vegetables, fruits, grains, and oils, and low on red meat and dairy — has been shown to benefit not just your heart health, but help with weight loss efforts, too.
The key, as with any exercise plan, is finding a dietary routine you can stick to, that you like, and that lets you do all the fun living and productive working you need to. Fortunately, there are tons of resources and phone apps that can help you do that. And they don’t cost $299.
Allison Krupp is an American writer, editor, and ghostwriting novelist. Between wild, multicontinental adventures, she resides in Berlin, Germany. Check out her website here.