What are nutrigenomics & nutrigenetics & why am I so interested in them?
There is lots of exciting research being undertaken in the fields of nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics and therefore more discussion happening about these topics within the media. But the information can be a little confusing and so I wanted to break it down for you. What nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics are and why you want to know about them!
Why genetics are important
Firstly lets talk about why genetics are important when it comes to nutrition and lifestyle strategies.
New research is starting to prove what we have known all along. That we are all different and therefore may be affected differently by different foods or different exercise routines. A new study published in the journal Cell tracked the blood sugar levels of 800 people over a week and found vastly different results in participants even though they all ate the same meal. These finding further demonstrated just how powerful a personalized approach to health can be. The idea of bio-individuality.
The concept of personalized medicine isn’t actually new. In 480BC Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine, was quoted as saying “Positive health requires a knowledge of man’s primary constitution and of the powers of various foods, both those natural to them and those resulting from human skill.” Constitution could include a variety of factors but most definitely includes our genetic make up.
Just like the research on individuals’ response to certain medications, when it comes to the nutrients we take in through food or supplementation, our genes can be responsible for us responding differently to others.
Genetic variations can affect food tolerances and influence dietary requirements. Studies have demonstrated remarkable genetic diversity among humans.
Peoples underlying genetic variability may cause differences in processes with the body such as the absorption of certain nutrients and metabolism. Genetic variation may also affect the types of foods you like and dislike. Its really fascinating stuff!
So what do I mean by nutrigenomics & nutrigenetics?
Nutrigenetics (a derivative term for nutritional genetics) is the science of the effect of genetics on your nutritional needs and your response to certain foods.
Nutrigenomics on the other hand is looking at the role of nutrition or of nutrients in gene expression.
So one is looking at the role of your genes on your nutrition and the other is looking at the role what you eat has on the way your genes are expressed. Genetic testing can be super useful in customizing nutritional requirements for the individual. I have been customizing nutritional programs and lifestyle plans for all my clients based on the way they feel and their lifestyle but the field of nutrigenomic helps me explain why you need to find what works for you individually and allows me to add an extra level of specification to our programs. In the past determining what works might have taken some trial and error. Genetic testing helps you figure out what works for your biology faster.
So lets dive a little deeper into what’s new in these two scientific fields and what you can do to use this knowledge to help boost your energy and improve your health.
So as I said above nutrigenomics looks at how your diet may be influencing your genome and how this could be promoting health or disease.
Sometimes it also includes how your nutritional intake has an effect on your metabolism and how your metabolism is controlled. Researches have been using this field of science to find out how different nutrients in food might turn on or off certain genes that may be impacting your metabolism or other physiologic processes in your body. For example some studies have found that there are compounds within broccoli that can help the body detoxify.
Nutrigenetics is a little bit different as this research looks at how any one of us is genetically programmed to respond in a particular way to a given dietary nutrient.
For example your genes can affect the foods you actually like and dislike by affecting the brains reward system differently for different people. Different nutrients have different effects on neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin which both influence behavior and mood. This is all based on your genotype.
It also looks at why some people might do better than others on a high fat diet or are able to process carbohydrates more affectively.
Understanding the basis of this variability can not only help explain some of the inconsistencies among nutritional studies but it can also help us learn how to eat or which supplements to use based on our genetic profile.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at caffeinated coffee and heart attacks and found that for some participants coffee increased their risk of a heart attack and for others it reduced the risk. It came down to the gene CYP1A2 which is a gene that breaks down caffeine in the liver and depending on which version of this gene you had you had either an increased risk or reduced risk of heart attack.
What about epigenetics?
Epigenetics is a related field of research that looks at how genetic expression of your genes is controlled. This can be by diet or lifestyle or environment.
It’s also a really exciting field of science as what it’s really saying is that you do have some control over your gene expression regardless of what genes you may have inherited and therefore we work with our health participants to maximize their performance customized for their specific circumstances and genetics.
How testing can help you?
Testing gives us more information to further tailor a specific lifestyle plan to you. This takes a lot of the guesswork out and some of the trial and error associated with diet and lifestyle changes and gets you better results in less time.
Interested in learning more about your genetic testing options? Want to learn how to eat for your genetics to maximise energy and be comfortable in your body?
Click HERE to schedule in a time to chat to me to find out whether this may be the right option for you.
To your health,
P.S. You can Click HERE to schedule in a discovery call to see if genetic testing may be a good fit for you.