Let’s talk about genetics and Lipoedema. There is work already undertaken identifying a genetic component of Lipoedema – something many of us have suspected for a very long time. Many of you have seen your mothers, grandmothers, aunts, great-aunts, sisters, cousins with legs just like yours. Others have seen women on their father’s side of the family with legs like yours. A few cannot identify a familial link.
The information about genes and lipoedema sucks. It means that people who carry a particular gene have an increased chance of developing a disease or detrimental health condition associated with the expression of that gene.
I want to propose that the information about genes and lipoedema can suck AND be empowering at the same time.
What you may or may not understand is that genetics do not determine the expression of a health condition or disease.
Dr Francis Collins said “Genetics load the gun, environment pulls the trigger”.
Expression of a genetic health condition or disease is based on the environmental factors we expose it to.
There is a complex relationship between the expression of a genetic variant and the environment under which it presents itself. This means that Lipoedema is not our fault, but it also means that we can do something about it. We are not at the mercy of Lipoedema if we address the environmental triggers for it.
The part about Dr Francis Collins’ quote that interests me the most is the environment part – what does “environment” mean in this context?
It describes the impact that the following environmental triggers might have on a genetic variant:
- Oxygen levels
- Light cycles
- Mutagens (physical, radiating, or chemical agents that permanently change genetic material, usually DNA, in an organism increasing the frequency of mutations above the natural background level)
Some of these triggers are largely out of our control, but I’m a big fan of focusing on the things I can control. No surprises, as a nutritionist the one I’m interested in most is diet. And by diet I don’t mean “dieting” … I mean the kinds of foods we choose, the way those foods were produced, the way they are prepared, and the environment in which we consume them.
This is what diet means. We’re all “on” a diet. We’re all “using” a diet.
the kinds of foods you choose, the way your food was produced, the way you prepare your food, and the environment in which you consume your food …
this Is your diet.
We all know the diet that is proven to not work for Lipoedema is any kind of low calorie diet. It doesn’t matter whether it’s caloric restriction by our own will, by means of medications, or more drastically, by surgical means.
We also know that under-eating doesn’t help Lipoedema. In my professional experience, I’d even go so far as to say it is an environmental factor that could be considered a trigger as it undermines the metabolic rate and can cause a deterioration in lean muscle tissue and bone tissue. This should be a warning to anybody with Lipoedema who is still trying to find ways to eat less. We should stop encouraging young women to use low calorie diets, and this is ESPECIALLY TRUE if they have Lipoedema.
In my professional experience I’ve found that the kind of diet that helps is a very clean, anti-inflammatory, sufficient calorie, nutrient dense, low carbohydrate diet. Whether that means keto or not, is up for debate.
SO HOW CAN WE HELP THE DAUGHTERS OF WOMEN WITH LIPOEDEMA?
Pushing on now to the question of diets that are helpful for women with lipoedema in light of genetics, and how do we help the next generation of women with lipoedema? How do we help our daughters? How do we help young women who may still have a chance of creating a food environment that mitigates expression or prevents progression?
This is a massive question, and I cannot answer it with certainty. I can only speak towards it in general terms to say that I’ve seen both keto and low carb make significant changes in the legs of women with lipoedema. I have a strong hunch that it could also contribute to a helpful environment for young women who have a genetic predisposition for Lipoedema.
How amazing would it be to model and provide a food environment for the “Daughters of Lipoedema” that gives them the gift of a healthy relationship with food?
Low Carb for Lipoedema and Lymphoedema is a healthy way of eating but is not a ketogenic diet. It is an anti-inflammatory, sufficient calorie, nutrient dense, low carbohydrate diet that provides a wider variety of food choices than keto and is healthy for the whole family.
Learn a healthy diet environment for yourself (and model it for your daughters) in our Low Carb Workshop for Lipoedema and Lymphoedema. The next Workshop starts on January 29, 2023 and information on what it covers is explained HERE