What is Nutrigenomics?
The interaction between nutrition and genes is known as nutrigenomics. (Subscribe to our blog to learn more about genes and health). This new branch of science is poised to change the future of nutrition, paving the way for a very high level of diet customization that wasn’t possible before.
A simple DNA test can now reveal differences in how individuals process and react to different nutrients. These differences range from food sensitivities to how carbohydrates and fats are metabolized. DNA analysis can also help individuals understand their eating behaviors such as propensity for snacking and risk for obesity. The impacts of these differences are far reaching and encompass, for example, a person’s susceptibility to weight gain, high blood pressure, and certain vitamin deficiencies. A DNA nutrition test, combined with an assessment of lifestyle factors, allows a science-based diet plan to be designed that is customized for an individual’s optimal health.
The Myth of the One-Size-Fits-All Diet
Nutrigenomics may explain why a keto diet, Atkins diet, or low-fat diet can work for one person but not another. Since individuals can respond differently to the same foods, following diet advice from a magazine, website, friend, or family member may not always be the best choice, whether for improving health or losing weight.
Scientists are now discovering how two people can consume the same foods and yet respond so differently. They’ve learned that not only do genes affect how bodies process nutrients, but nutrients also affect the activation of genes. Gene expression is known to be influenced by diet, as well as factors like exercise and sleep.
Why People Are Turning to Nutrigenomics
In an age of rapidly changing and often conflicting nutrition advice, people are looking for science-based guidance on the best way to eat. Nutrigenomics provides the key to personalized nutrition for a number of health and wellness goals, such as:
- Weight loss and weight management
- Chronic disease prevention
- Healthy aging
- Understanding of food allergies and sensitivities
- Optimal energy levels
- Better sleep quality
- Enhanced strength and endurance
- Improved mood
The Known Links Between Genes and Nutrition
Although nutrigenomics is an emerging field, there have already been several key discoveries that support the value of a DNA diet. Gene variants have been identified that impact a number of nutritional processes and reactions that can work very differently from person to person, including:
- Rate of carbohydrate metabolism
- Effect of salt intake on blood pressure
- Rate of caffeine metabolism
- Gluten sensitivity
- Lactose intolerance
- Blood cholesterol levels
- Effect of dietary fat on body composition
- Alcohol sensitivity
- Susceptibility to nutritional deficiencies
Even with a customized diet plan based on a DNA nutrition test, supplementation may be recommended to achieve optimal health and wellness, especially in cases of genetic predisposition toward nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamin B12 or vitamin D deficiencies. Other supplements that may be called for include probiotics and coenzyme Q10 (also called CoQ10).
Lifestyle Factors Affect Gene Expression
While a DNA test reveals information about a person’s genes, lifestyle factors affect how those genes are expressed. Factors that are known to influence gene expression include:
- Physical activity
- Psychological stress
- Tobacco smoking
- Alcohol consumption
- Environmental pollutants
- Sleeping patterns (e.g. working night shifts)
High-Tech Health and Wellness
Nutrigenomics is a science-based approach to health and wellness that recognizes the individual’s unique nutrient needs. Other diets may come and go, but the one that is customized to you will be yours for life. Learn more about what your DNA can reveal about you.