Our genes literally determine who we are - from the color of our eyes and skin to our height and weight. Not only that, there is growing evidence that most people who suffer from chronic diseases today have a genetic predisposition to it. This also means that genetic factors influence our food preferences, the way we process different foods, the interactions between the nutrients in our bodies, and our bodies' nutrient needs. Genetic variability, in turn, explains why different people respond differently to the same foods.
Hence the new area of personalized DNA-based nutrition, known as Nutrigenomic is known, d. H. the link between genetics, diet and disease. DNA-Based Nutrition is a smart way to achieve your health and nutrition goals because it is designed to put you at the center of all planning, calculations and preferences.
DNA testing has become very popular and is marketed to help you determine a variety of aspects of your health and genetics. This has led to a fork in DNA-based nutritional testing, which says your genetics can tell you what to eat and what to avoid.
Many of these tests are aimed at athletes to improve their performance. DNA diets are still new to nutritional science, and it's helpful to be aware of their potential benefits and drawbacks when considering such a diet.
What is a DNA diet?
DNA testing can identify certain genetic factors that put you at increased risk for hereditary diseases. When it comes to diet, DNA testing is designed to provide insight into how your body is responding to food and guide you to make changes that reduce inflammation and disease risk.
Some companies even claim that "eating for your genes" can contribute to successful weight loss or performance improvement. While this is attractive consumer marketing, using a DNA test in this way is far more complicated than is often portrayed and these claims are not scientifically backed.
What Science Says
There are a number of companies that offer DNA testing in conjunction with nutritional advice and weight loss guidance. Looking at the websites of these companies, one gets the impression that much of the advice is very general. While at the same time they feel unique to you, which likely makes the basic test results you get carry a lot more weight. Also, some companies claim that their DNA tests will tell you what personal nutritional supplements you need to take, and then sell you those supplements.
One 2018 12-month randomized controlled trial published in JAMA examined the effects of a healthy, low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss in 609 adults aged 18 to 50, with a BMI between 28 and 40 and without existing diabetes. The researchers wanted to find out whether genotypes or insulin secretion were related to the effects of diet on weight loss.
The result was that you can very well tell what your risk of iron deficiency anemia is or how sensitive you are to caffeine or alcohol. Based on this information, you can definitely approach a change in diet in a targeted manner.
What is nutrigenomics?
Nutrigenomics – or nutritional genomics – is the study of the interaction between genes and nutrition. Variants (differences) in your genes predict how your body is likely to respond to certain nutrients.
For example, variants in your FTO gene are related to metabolism, energy expenditure, and energy balance; they affect weight management and body composition. Your FTO gene variants reveal how your body metabolizes fat and protein. With the guidance of a nutritionist, you can use this knowledge to choose an eating plan that works well with your genetic makeup.
The results of the Nutrigenomic tests can help you in your daily decisions. For example, your genetic variants may indicate that you are more prone to it
- Develop high blood pressure or cholesterol: Knowing this, you can take steps to prevent these diseases from occurring. Among other things, you can reduce your consumption of sodium or saturated fat.
- Cravings for sweets: You can make a plan to fight your cravings and avoid eating too much sugar. This is how you can prevent yourself from developing type 2 diabetes.
- Nervousness when consuming caffeine: Now you know why you feel so shaky after drinking caffeine. Maybe now you're feeling inspired to cut out caffeine forever.
- Lose weight with a high-protein diet: You can confidently stick to a nutrition plan once you know how your body responds to macronutrients like carbs, fat, and protein.
- Burn more fat with strength training or endurance training: Focusing on your most efficient fat burning system can help you get results faster.
How can nutrigenomics affect your diet?
Nutrigenomics can help you identify the components of your diet that have the greatest impact on your health and may reduce risk factors for disease. Research also shows that people who have genetic information about themselves are motivated to work on their health goals.
example high blood pressure
It's one thing to know it runs in the family and another to see the solid genetic evidence of the risk. But just because you have the variant for it doesn't mean it's inevitable. And this is where the encouraging part of nutrigenomics comes in. Working with a nutritionist, you can create an actionable plan – e.g. For example, looking for ways to lower sodium levels - to keep your life as healthy as possible.
Genetics vs. Lifestyle Choices
Genes are part of the health picture, but factors such as your lifestyle and environment also play an important role. How much does each component contribute to how your body responds to food? This question was investigated in the PREDICT-1 study.
The study collected data from 1,000 participants, more than half of whom were twins. They ate special muffins, and then the researchers measured the sugar (glucose), insulin and fat levels in the participants' blood. They also collected information about the participants' levels of exercise and sleep. Using stool samples, the researchers also analyzed the intestinal bacteria (microbiome) of each person.
Here are the results:
- The macronutrients in a meal (protein, fat, and carbohydrates in the meal) had the greatest impact on blood glucose levels.
- Gut bacteria had the greatest impact on blood lipid (fat) levels.
- Genetic predisposition had a greater impact on blood glucose levels than blood lipid levels, although less significantly than meal composition.
The bottom line: Genetics play a role in a complex interplay of factors that vary from person to person. And it is possible to change many of these factors, including:
- gut bacteria
Is nutrigenomics the future of nutrition?
Personalized nutrition—recommendations based on your genetics, preferences, and predispositions—may replace blanket recommendations in the future.
It can be assumed that the more people learn about their genetic predisposition, the more nutrigenomics will become a routine part of nutritional decisions.
Genetic tendencies are predictions, not guarantees. And nutrigenomics can't eliminate all trial and error in nutrition, supplements, and exercise programs. But nutrigenomics gives you a more focused approach to finding out what steps you can take to feel your best.