For many years people have been saying, you are what you eat and nutrigenomics takes this one step further in an effort to understand the link between genetics and diet in an effort to uncover possible disease prevention and treatment. Nutri-what, you ask? In this article, we discuss the depths of nutrigenomics – from the basics to the benefits, and what all of this could mean for your overall health and wellness.
What is Nutrigenomics?
Nutrigenomics is the scientific term used to describe the study between nutrition and genes, specifically with regard to how diseases can be prevented or treated. The study looks at how the food one eats affects their genes and how their genes affect the way their body responds to micro and macronutrients, all in an effort to learn more about the link between diet and genetics and disease prevention and treatment.
The study uses a variety of different tools to identify and monitor the disease risk and progression, including food diaries, biomarkers (hormone levels or metabolite), tests that identify relevant gene variants, and clinical data such as weight, BMI, sex and age.
Put all of this together and nutrigenomics testing promises personalized health, where you are prescribed a detailed diet plan based on the nutritional requirements and genetic makeup of your body.
The Purpose of Nutrigenomics
The main purpose of nutrigenomics is to determine how food can affect a person’s risk of developing diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This presents the opportunity to find specific agents in food or genes that can potentially prevent the onset of or treat many different health conditions.
Here is a quick recap of what nutrigenomics can do:
- Look at your health from a genetic standpoint
- Provide insight on the best workout and fitness regimes that work for your body
- Uncover genetic variants linked to health conditions
- Helps find the best foods for you based on how they interact with your body
- Reveal food allergies and food sensitivities
The Benefits of Nutrigenomics
There are undeniably incredible benefits that come with understanding how nutrition affects the body and how the body responds to different mechanisms in food. Nutrigenomics testing can provide you with valuable information regarding your personal health and the conditions you’re at risk of developing so you can make the best decisions based on your genetics to improve your health, aid with health goals, use the most effective prevention and treatments of different health conditions, and much more.
Here’s a quick look at some of the specific advantages of nutrigenomics.
Understand Your Risks
Your genetics may be able to spot predispositions toward certain diseases, which can provide you with the information needed to empower you to make preventative choices within your diet to reduce the risk. There are many conditions that have been linked to genes and that have dietary prevention strategies, such as mental health conditions, obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and many others.
Prevent The Onset of Disease
By understanding the potential risks you face based on your genetics, you’re able to make fact-based decisions that can mitigate the risk through diet. For example, if you have a gene variant that has been linked to type 2 diabetes, you can help prevent the development of this disease by reducing sugar, exercising, cutting down on red and processed meats, and increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables.
Make Healthier Decisions
With nutrigenomic testing, you’re able to receive specific information regarding your health and genetics that allow you to make healthier decisions in your everyday life. For example, if your test results show that you have a genetic variant linked to high blood pressure, you can take the proper steps to prevent this condition from developing.
In addition to knowing the steps to take to prevent health conditions, you may be at risk of developing based on your genes, the information you receive from nutrigenomic testing can also help you make daily decisions that can benefit your overall health and wellness. For example, you can enhance your weight loss by understanding how your body responds to carbohydrates, protein and fat or by learning the most efficient way your body burns fat and the best exercises to do. You can also see what nutrients hinder your health, so you can take the proper measures to eliminate them.
Provide More Insight
The nutrigenomic approach can be used to provide more insight on a vast array of health conditions, the risk of developing them, what contributing factors they have, and so on and so forth.
For example, you can learn:
- Risks of developing metabolic syndrome
- Genetic and nutritional factors that contribute to health conditions
- Links between obesity, mental health and gut health
- The connection between nutrient intake and diseases, such as caffeine intake and heart irregularities
And so much more.
Offer Personalized Treatment Plans
Furthermore, nutrigenomics can be used to offer personalized treatment plans. By understanding the link between a person’s nutrition and genes, a more appropriate and effective plan can be used to tackle the health problem at hand. For example, for losing weight, your body may respond better to a low-carb diet vs. a low-fat diet.
Learn The Best Way To Eat For You
Understanding your genetic makeup can also help you learn the best eating patterns that will work for you and which ones won’t work as well for you. For example, your body may benefit from a ketogenic diet but may not adapt well to a vegan diet. You may also discover that your body needs help converting sunshine into vitamin D, so a supplement would be beneficial to you, and so on and so forth.
Motivate You To Make Healthier Choices
It’s one thing if you’re at risk of a health condition because it runs in your family vs. having a genetic variant that puts you at direct risk of developing it. Now, it doesn’t mean that you will get this disease but it is certainly a motivating factor to make healthier choices to reduce the risk. Research also shows that people who have genetic information experience an increase in motivation to work on their health goals.
Know What Supplements to Take
Look at any list of recommended dietary supplements and you’ll see hundreds of different options but none of these lists take in your genetic makeup and only offer generalized information. With nutrigenomics testing, you can learn the exact supplements your body needs.
How to Use Nutrigenomics For Your Health
A nutrigenomic test consists of a simple cheek swab that can be done at home. However, although there are nutrigenomic tests you can do at home, it is highly recommended to use a health practitioner that factors in your health, family history, personal history, past lifestyles, current lifestyles etc. This allows you to get the most detailed and accurate information possible.
Once you receive your test results, you can then discuss with your healthcare provider or dietitian to develop a diet plan that works best for you, on a genetic level.
Your genes hold the answer to all of your questions regarding your health, fitness, weight loss and much more. Nutrigenomics allow you to take a look at those answers, so you can create a personalized action plan that is the most effective option for you, based on your genes.