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Why do people put on differing amounts of weight?

26 January 2016 [11:53] - TODAY.AZ

Foods that make some of us put on weight can have little effect on others, according to research being carried out in Israel. It might be time to rethink the way we diet, writes Dr Saleyha Ashan.

Like most of the population, I must admit that I am on an eternal quest to lose weight. For me it's more to do with concerns about health than aesthetics. I have polycystic ovary syndrome and a family history of type 2 diabetes and that puts me into a high risk category for developing diabetes myself.

I have always watched what I eat - and yet I never seem to shift the weight, while friends seem to eat what they want without putting on a single bulge. It seemed like they could just "break all the rules". But perhaps that's just because we have been wrong about what "the rules" of diets are.

Last month, I travelled to Israel for Trust Me, I'm a Doctor to take part in a vast new research study being carried out there by a team at the Weizmann Institute of Science. They are in the process of monitoring 1,000 people in absolutely minute detail to see exactly how their bodies react to food - and their first results are rewriting the textbooks on our relationship with food.

When we eat, our blood sugar level rises - and both the speed at which it peaks, and then how quickly our bodies deal with that and get it back to normal, is very important to our health. Constant high spikes can lead to type 2 diabetes, as well as us laying down more fat and increasing our risk of other diseases.

Foods have, therefore, been traditionally classified by how much of a blood sugar spike they cause - with "high GI" (Glycaemic Index) foods being thought of as bad for us, and "low GI" as good. Every nutritionist would tell you this. But the Israeli research, led by Dr Eran Segal and Dr Eran Elinav, suggests that it is simply not so.

Once I arrived in Tel Aviv, the team not only took all my vital statistics and medical history, but they gave me a little implanted glucose monitor under my skin, which would monitor my blood sugar levels constantly for the next week. The team's nutritional experts had prepared me six days of menus specifically designed to test my body's response to a few standardised meals, mixed in with some of my personal staple foods.

I'm an accident & emergency doctor, which is something that undoubtedly has an effect on my diet. Rushing around on my feet all day with strange working patterns has meant that eating times can be erratic - and unless I have been super-organised, I am at the mercy of the hospital canteen.

I never buy bread - it's an aisle I just don't even go down in the supermarkets and I live in fear of sandwiches - but I see other people living on them.

I do, however, reach for the grapes - I love them. I can eat bunches of them and feel guilt-free doing so. They are my go to "healthy" snack. Another guilt-free grab is sushi - especially after a day's filming. I snatch a box of salmon nigiri and am off. Now, though, had come my chance to find out what each of these foods was really doing to my body.

Other things, such as stress levels, exercise and sleep can all affect our blood glucose responses, so the research team made me log everything I did throughout the day on a little phone app.

Most importantly, though, because their initial data had suggested that different individuals responded differently to foods, I teamed up with another volunteer of the same gender and age - Leila.

For the next week, Leila and I did and ate exactly the same things together - eating in the same restaurants and carefully weighing our food to ensure that it was as identical as possible. Textbooks said that our bodies should respond to them in a similar way. The Israeli researchers suspected that we wouldn't.

/By BBC/


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