We have clothes stitched to fit our figures, cuisines prepared to suit our taste buds, training schedules planned to match our physical needs and NOW diets tailored and designed as per our genetic code and DNA make up….
Welcome to the world of nutrigenomics!
Since our individual genes determine the nutrients each of us needs to stay fit and disease-free, it makes sense to customise diets according to a person’s DNA, says researchers. This fast-growing (and controversial) field – called nutritional genomics, or nutrigenomics is attracting serious research funding, and nutrition counselors are already predicting a “revolution” in preventative health in near future.
Nutritional genomics, (also called nutrigenomics), is actually the study of how nutrients and genes interact and how genetic variations can cause people to respond differently to food nutrients. And a nutrigenomic diet programme is based on detailed analysis of DNA, the unique genetic code everyone is born with, to set out exactly what each person as an individual should and should not eat for the rest of their life.
According to scientists, the so-called “nutrigenomic diet” could greatly increase active life expectancy and, more importantly, eliminate genetically related killer diseases such as breast cancer and other common cancers and heart disease. Nutrigenomic or designer diets can be used for people as young as five and will help one to stay healthy and live longer.
Tests to determine genetic risk profiles are currently being offered by a small number of companies in Canada, United States and United Kingdom.
Clients are sent a pack with a swab to wipe with saliva from the inside of their cheek. The saliva is then analysed to compile a DNA profile, showing up individual genetic traits. This is combined with information on the person’s present diet to produce a detailed list of foods and supplements which are beneficial and those to be avoided.
Nutritional genetic testing will look at the DNA sequence of an individual for specific genes and then even on variations of those genes, and the results will be looking at epidemiological, genetic and biomedical information from each gene. This would be put into a report with general information about how your genes work together with the food you eat, and specific recommendations over what you should eat.
The genes are tested for the antioxidant activity, detoxification, factors affecting bone health, and aspects of cardiovascular diseases. If your genes show a raised risk of developing heart disease, say, you shall be recommended a specific nutritional programme. It has been seen that if you give individuals their genetic test results, even if it’s for a couple of genes, it can motivate those people to change their lifestyle, which definitely is a benefit of the concept. However, critics are arguing about the expense associated with current nutritional genetic testing and how the high cost could ultimately increase health disparities. Also, the zeal of specific companies to market their so called designer diets is quite overwhelming!
Although the science behind these tests is valid and this might be the future of nutritional intervention for combating diseases, lets be patient and avoid being carried away too soon. What we need is extensive studies to analyze the role of genetics in the development of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, birth defects and food allergies, about how chemicals in foods can affect genes, and how genes can predict whether particular foods are likely to cause health problems.
The world is still catching up with this nutritional breakthrough and as nutritional genomics research is still in its infancy, it will take sometime before we have companies offering dietary advice based on individual genetic profiles.
In the meantime, lets continue with symptomatic analysis of the client, (which reflects his/her body type, eating pattern, activity levels, lifestyle) and a pathological blood investigation to evaluate the physiological state.
And continue eating right and exercising well!