Is it time to retire ‘good genes,’ ‘bad genes’ distinction?

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We tend to think of good genes as the ones that make us thin, calm, cheerful and healthy. This logical assumption may not be completely accurate: Dr. Lee Goldman suggests that even better genes may be the ones that make us fat, anxious and candidates for the services of a cardiologist like himself.

It’s all a matter of perspective, and Dr. Goldman takes the long, long view in “Too Much of a Good Thing,” arguing that many common modern ills result from the surpassingly excellent genes that allowed our species to endure over the millenniums. Only very recently did these survivor genes turn on us, creating the collection of overweight, hypertensive, jumpy and miserable individuals we are today.

For our hunter-gatherer forebears to survive, he reminds us, they had to enthusiastically consume large quantities of food when food was available. They had to scarf up substantial amounts of salt and water as well — the unique human ability to sweat profusely and keep the body cool by evaporation gave hunters the stamina to keep up with their prey.

When it comes to food, we are programmed to ingest more calories than we need. Some triggers are social, but many more are inherent in the body’s workings. Our taste buds prefer calorie-laden items to others. Our intestines efficiently extract those calories from ingested food. Our bodies fight weight loss with an assortment of hormones and appetite-stimulating molecules that are revved up when pounds disappear and may stay elevated for years.

Read full, original post: Review: ‘Too Much of a Good Thing’ Finds a Dilemma in Our DNA

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