DNA Digest: Carbohydrates
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DNA Digest: Carbohydrates

Today, we're diving into the world of carbohydrate sensitivity and genetics. Did you know that our genes can impact how we process and metabolise carbohydrates?

In this blog, we'll explore the basics of carbohydrate sensitivity, the genetics behind it, and how we can optimise our carbohydrate intake based on our genetic makeup. So, let's get started!

What is carbohydrate sensitivity?

Carbohydrate sensitivity refers to the body's ability to process and metabolise carbohydrates. Individuals with high carbohydrate sensitivity may experience spikes in blood sugar levels and increased insulin production after consuming carbohydrate-rich foods.

What are the genes linked to carbohydrate sensitivity?

Several genes have been identified that can impact how the body processes and metabolises carbohydrates. For example, variations in the TCF7L2 gene have been linked to impaired glucose metabolism and insulin resistance. 

How can we optimise our carbohydrate intake based on our genetics?

One way to optimise carbohydrate intake is through genetic testing. By identifying genetic variations that impact carbohydrate metabolism, individuals can tailor their carbohydrate intake to best support their unique needs. For example, individuals with variations in the TCF7L2 gene may benefit from limiting their intake of high-glycemic index carbohydrates, such as white bread and sugary drinks.

What are some signs of carbohydrate sensitivity?

Signs of carbohydrate sensitivity can include fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, and difficulty losing weight. Individuals with carbohydrate sensitivity may also experience cravings for sugary or starchy foods.

What are some strategies for managing carbohydrate sensitivity?

One strategy for managing carbohydrate sensitivity is to focus on consuming carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Additionally, pairing carbohydrates with protein and healthy fats can help slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.


It's important to remember that while genetic testing can provide valuable insights into our unique carbohydrate needs, it's just one piece of the puzzle. Other factors, such as lifestyle choices and overall dietary intake, also play a role in determining our carbohydrate sensitivity and optimal intake.

So, next time you're reaching for that bowl of pasta or a slice of bread, remember that your genes could be influencing how your body processes and metabolises those carbs. By paying attention to your body's response to different types of carbohydrates and making informed choices based on your genetic makeup, you can optimise your carbohydrate intake for improved health and well-being.


Cho NH, Shaw JE, Karuranga S, et al. IDF Diabetes Atlas: Global estimates of diabetes prevalence for 2017 and projections for 2045. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2018;138:271-281. doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2018.02.023

Kilpeläinen TO, Zillikens MC, Stančáková A, et al. Genetic variation near IRS1 associates with reduced adiposity and an impaired metabolic profile. Nat Genet. 2011;43(8):753-760. doi:10.1038/ng.866

Ralston JC, Lyons CL, Kennedy EB, Kirwan JP, Roche HM. Fatty Acids and NLRP3 Inflammasome-Mediated Inflammation in Metabolic Tissues. Annu Rev Nutr. 2017;37:77-102. doi:10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064810

The Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration. Diabetes mellitus, fasting blood glucose concentration, and risk of vascular disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of 102 prospective studies. Lancet. 2010;375(9733):2215-2222. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60484-9

University of California San Francisco. Carbohydrates. Accessed June 24, 2021.

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