If the last several decades of nutrition study have taught us anything, it's that there is no such thing as a "one-size-fits-all" diet. While there are many elements at play, our genetics may play a role in why particular eating patterns work for one person but not for another.
Nutrigenomics is an interesting, young field that employs genetic testing to figure out how genes, nutrition, and health interact. This data is used to assist determine the best diet for each person.
Here's a rundown of what nutrigenomics is, what you can expect if you give it a shot, and how it may affect the future of individualized nutrition.
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What is the concept of Nutrigenomics?
"Nutrigenomics is the study of the link between genomics, nutrition, and health," explains CRI Genetics geneticist Jan Lim, MS. "The discipline encompasses both the study of how the entire body reacts to micro-and macronutrients, as well as the relationship between single genes and single gene/food molecule interactions," according to the researchers.
The term "nutrigenetics" is sometimes used to describe this field.
Nutrigenomics is the study of how nutrients influence the expression of genes in your body, whereas nutrigenetics is the study of how your body responds to nutrition as a result of your genetic composition. Many individuals, however, use the terms interchangeably.
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History of Nutrigenomics
Though nutrition genetics is still in its early stages, the notion that our genes may decide our optimum diet isn't as far-fetched as it may appear.
In fact, British physician Archibald Garrod is credited with discovering a link between nutrition, genetics, and phenotype as early as the early twentieth century.
The Human Genome Project, which mapped human DNA in the 1990s, prepared the basis for today's nutrigenomics. Hundreds of research have been conducted since then to investigate the impact of genes on the body's response to nutrition, as well as the other way around.
Genetic testing is now commonly used by practitioners such as dietitians and doctors to analyze patients' nutritional needs and develop personalized health goals.
Benefits of Nutrigenomics
Genetic testing as part of nutrition guidance may appear to be a bit far-fetched. A genetic test merely to see if you should eat low-carb or increase your vitamin C intake?
Nutrigenomics, when used as part of an integrative dietary strategy, can reveal concerns that a simple health history cannot. This might be anything from a genetic predisposition to heart disease to the fact that you've tried everything and still can't lose weight.
A nutrigenomic test can also reveal your personal best macro-and micronutrient sources. Perhaps your body can't use omega-3 fatty acids from plants to their full potential, or you can't turn sunlight into vitamin D. A qualified practitioner can use this information to advise you on the foods to consume or supplements to take to satisfy your needs.
Similarly, a nutrigenomics test may reveal predispositions to particular diseases. With this knowledge, you may make informed decisions about how to reduce risk through food.
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Significance of Nutrigenomics
Do you want to take a genetic approach to eat but aren't sure what to expect?
Nutrigenomics-based nutrition counseling is surprisingly painless. If your results raise any additional concerns, a blood test may be ordered.
Your dietitian or other health experts will evaluate your test findings and work with you to develop an eating action plan once they are received.
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Nutrigenomics' potential drawbacks include
Despite substantial research into the relationship between genetics, nutrition, and health, the discipline of nutrigenomics is still in its infancy. We still have a lot to learn about nutrigenomics because it's such a new field of research.
This isn't to imply that genetics isn't an important factor to consider when it comes to dietary advising. Just keep in mind that nutrigenomics won't solve every dietary dilemma and that genes are only one of many elements that influence health and the best food choices.
While the availability of direct-to-consumer genetic testing for diet purposes may appear exciting and convenient, it also has the potential for being a disadvantage.
It's always preferable to speak with a health practitioner that specializes in nutrition genetics to understand the relationship between your personal DNA and food.
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What does nutrigenomics have in store for the future?
Although progress is being made in each of the different 'omics' disciplines, more comprehensive phenotypic profiles will require successful integration.
NUGO recently published an editorial in Genes and Nutrition that emphasized the need of using a systems approach in future research, with human research studies that include the complete range of food interactions essential for nutrigenomics to fulfill its full potential.
The relative impact of genes on the development of chronic disease is still a point of contention. Despite the fact that 97 genetic loci (gene variations) have been discovered as contributing to fat storage, Professor Mathers' 2017 conference lecture on the topic (available in PNS) observed that the 97 variants collectively explain less than 3% of BMI variance.
As a result, neither our genes nor our diets can fully explain why some people are vulnerable to particular diseases. Gene expression is influenced by a complicated interplay between heredity and the environment in which an individual lives.
The experiment found that using algorithms that combined data on diet, phenotype, and genotype, personalized nutrition approaches can provide more health benefits than following standard dietary guidelines.
However, no significant differences were discovered between a personalized nutrition approach based on counseling and a personalized nutrition approach based on genotypic and phenotypic data.
Despite trials like Food4Me, we are still not at the point where personalized nutrition or nutrigenomics are part of ordinary public healthcare. According to a poll conducted in 2012, while 80 percent of Greek healthcare practitioners were eager to propose a nutrigenomic approach to their patients, just 17 percent had done so.
Much remains to be discovered and determined in bringing together the disciplines of bioinformatics, nutrition, epidemiology, molecular biology, and genomics, but future nutrigenomics research will undoubtedly reveal more fascinating insights into both nutritional science and the human genome.
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The phrase "everybody is different" refers to more than simply our physical appearance. This is true all the way down to the genetic level. Despite the fact that nutrigenomics is a relatively young discipline that is still getting public awareness, many nutrition experts believe it is the way of the future when it comes to nutritional advising.
Nutrigenomics, as part of a holistic nutrition philosophy that considers the full individual, may be able to help patients overcome health challenges that other treatments cannot.