A few nice how to lose weight images I found:

Thanks Mom!
how to lose weight
Image by jurvetson
Since my parents have also gone through the 23andMe DNA analysis, we can compare genes.

Thanks for the endurance mom! For those who know her, this is a strong point. =)

The genome-wide comparison above covers almost a million SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms), which are point letter mutations (like A → G or T → C swaps) that have accumulated in relatively recent generations and vary across the peoples of the planet.

For each of the traits, I added a note with explanatory text from 23andMe. For example, the 135 SNPs related to endurance cover “genes that have been associated with different endurance phenotypes, including VO2max (your maximum capacity to transport and utilize oxygen), running distance, exercise time, and power output.”

Immune System Compatibility is also pretty interesting as it is almost entirely genetic, and relates to organ transplant potential and mate preference (we have a natural aversion to people with immune systems too similar to our own). Whew!

The analysis above is on the 22 autosomal chromosomes which are a blend from mom and dad. To look at a segment of DNA that we know only came from Mom, we look at the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which is outside the nucleus and resident in each of the mitochondria, or “power plants” of our cells. When you were a single cell, that cell came from mom. Dad’s genetic contribution went straight to the nucleus. And as that cell proceeded to divide, the mtDNA was copied as well, now replicated in all of the cells of your body, and entirely derived from mom. The sperm’s mitochondria are mainly in the tail, and the egg cell destroys any that might make it across. And it is abundant. Your liver cells, for example, have about 1500 mitochondria and about 10 thousand copies of mom’s mtDNA per cell.

By the way, this snippet of code is a clue to the endosymbiosis of the distant past where our cells engulfed energetic bacteria to power our much larger cells. The mtDNA forms a circle, instead of a strand, as found in viruses, bacteria and archaea. It also has a high mutation rate, like bacteria, which makes it useful for genetic archaeology.

So, for Mother’s Day, it seemed appropriate to look at my mom and all of the moms in her maternal line. Our mtDNA pegs us as Maternal Haplogroup H11a, which is common to Nicolaus Copernicus and Marie Antoinette. =)

23andMe summarizes: "H originated in the Near East and then expanded after the peak of the Ice Age into Europe, where it is the most prevalent haplogroup today. It is present in about half of the Scandinavian population…

H originated about 40,000 years ago in the Near East, where favorable climate conditions allowed it to flourish. About 10,000 years later it spread westward all the way to the Atlantic coast and east into central Asia as far as the Altay Mountains.

About 21,000 years ago an intensification of Ice Age conditions blanketed much of Eurasia with mile-thick glaciers and squeezed people into a handful of ice-free refuges in Iberia, Italy, the Balkans and the Caucasus. Several branches of haplogroup H arose during that time, and after the glaciers began receding about 15,000 years ago most of them played a prominent role in the repopulation of the continent.

Haplogroup H achieved an even wider distribution later on with the spread of agriculture and the rise of organized military campaigns.

Recent research indicates Haplogroup H made its way into the deserts of northern Africa via the Strait of Gibraltar."

And for those wondering how we know Copernicus’ mtDNA, we turn to The Spittoon: "Even though DNA begins degrading immediately following death, the genetic material is often preserved in the teeth for hundreds or thousands of years. Scientists studying ancient DNA (aDNA) usually focus on the type of DNA that has the greatest chance of surviving: mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is passed exclusively from mother to children. The sheer abundance of mtDNA makes it much more likely to survive; each cell contains hundreds of copies."

How to make milk kefir
how to lose weight
Image by Stephen Pearson
Milk kefir ingredients, lowcarbalpha.com/milk-kefir/ grains on a wooden spoon and finished recipe in a glass, and how to make it

Okay, I have spent all morning agonizing about the Zone.
how to lose weight
Image by Malingering
The Zone and diets and Ultrametabolism and weight loss and insulin levels and fats as fuel and carbs as fuel and glycogen and eicosanoids and calories and exercise.

I am getting nowhere.

I’ve spent all morning on damn PubMed and I still don’t know anything. Low carb diets work, but apparently not for the insulin regulation reasons that people initially thought, and they can sensitize people so they produce more insulin in relation to the sugars they eat. Some studies show low carb diets to be more effective than high carb diets, and some show the opposite. One study suggests cognitive slowing with low carb diets. One shows an increase in C-reactive protein with low carb diets. One shows a decrease in inflammation with low carb diets. One showed that carb consumption is directly correlated to the expression of a fatty acid desaturase. One study shows that in a comparison of diets over 1 year, the Zone diet fared less favorably in terms of weight loss than the high carb diet. One showed that low carb diets don’t provide sufficient energy for endurance athletes. One showed that a high carb diet was beneficial in people with insulin resistance. Another showed that increasing whole grains (hard to do on a low carb diet) decreases metabolic syndrome by 32% and cardiovascular disease by 25%. A big 12-year study in Sweden showed low carb diets increased mortality by 6%. Then a study in the US showed there was no difference. A 10-year study in Greece backed up the Sweden study and showed a 22% increase in cardiovascular mortality.

All of the studies have flaws, of course. And I don’t know how to apply them to ME. The only consistent thing throughout all of these articles is that weight loss = lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol and all that. No shit. So what do I eat? Tofu, spinach and oatmeal? And what about all of the anti-soy people?

Thing is, I’m not particularly trying to lose weight. I’m okay where I am. I just want to live a healthier lifestyle. And I can’t even figure out how to do this.

So I ate this brownie sundae. Now I feel much better.

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