If our bodies could talk, what would they tell us about the foods we eat? What nutrients would they say each of us needs most? Well, science has come up with a way to help us figure out just that. Nutrigenomics is the science of discovering how food & nutrients interact with our genes.
Genetic expression is not static; genes can be switched on and off in response to certain environmental conditions like stress, toxins, or the foods we consume. The right diet provides information that tells our genes what to do to keep the human body healthy. The wrong diet will do the opposite. But we are not all the same, and our genetics strongly influence which foods are suitable for optimal health. For example, some people function better eating a diet that is lower in carbohydrates, while others need more protein. Some people may require more vitamin B6, while others might need a diet higher in folate. How do we know what’s best for us? That’s where nutrigenomic profiling comes in.
Tired of trying to work out what foods suit you best?
We’ve all been exposed to the myriad of different ‘fad’ diets that seem to pop up every week. While many of these are restrictive and unsafe, some diets are relatively sensible and will work for some…but they don’t work for everyone. Why? The answer is simple; our genes do not interact with nutrients all in the same way and this variation is an important component of understanding our individual metabolism and its different requirements.
Nutrigenomics is not the same as allergy or intolerance testing. While these tests investigate immune responses to foods, nutrigenomics interprets our genetic information and how eating the right foods helps to optimise health and promote a healthy weight. It is different to other genetic testing that estimates the likelihood of developing certain diseases, rather it aims to avoid this by maximising nutritional intake in relation to individual needs.
How can nutrigenomics and personalised nutrition work for me?
Once we have the right information, understanding what suits the body best nutritionally becomes less of a guessing game. Weight loss becomes simplified. Based on nutrigenomics, a qualified practitioner can tell you what kind of exercise might suit you best, and even how likely you are to experience food cravings and food disinhibition (overeating). Many major health issues can also be pre-empted such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Nutrients are not just vitamins and minerals; carbohydrates, fats and protein are also required by the body for energy storage, maintenance, and synthesis of essential structural components. People utilise fats and carbohydrates differently, and a personalised nutritional consultation can help you to decipher the proportion in which to consume these macronutrients, particularly in relation to weight management.
The way forward with prevention
Personalised nutrition will help us move forward from our present situation. Much of Western society is overweight, plagued by chronic disease, and searching desperately for ways to slow or stop the steady decline of health as the human life span increases. Nutrigenomics can estimate the likelihood of developing nutrient deficiencies before they occur. Practitioners can assess the diet and actively recommend foods (or additional nutritional supplements, if necessary), that will support optimal health.
If you’d like to know more about how personalised nutrition can support your wellbeing, please feel free to contact us.
Source: Neeha, V.s., & Kinth, P. (2012). Nutrigenomics research: A review. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 50(3), 415-428.