Nutrigenomics: Using DNA to Create Personalized Diets
Looking to cut through the fad diets and influencer advice to find a science-based wellness plan that actually works for you? The emerging field of nutrigenomics might be the answer you’re looking for.
Nutrigenomics (also called nutritional genomics), is the study of how genes and nutrition interact. In other words, nutrigenomics looks to find how your body will respond to certain foods, based on your unique genetic makeup. It’s thought that information about how nutrients interact with your genes will allow you to create a personalized diet that will help you reach your goals, because it’s based on your body’s unique needs.
Let’s take a closer look at what some are calling “the future of human nutrition.”
What Is Nutrigenomics?
After some early thoughts on the link between genes and nutrition emerged at the start of the 20th Century, the Human Genome Project from 1990 - 2003 fully launched the field of Nutrigenomics. Equipped with the most comprehensive set of human DNA data ever compiled, researchers were able to start testing the interactions between our genes and the foods we eat.
To understand Nutrigenomics, you need to know about gene variants. Your genes carry variants, which are small differences in the gene that are passed down through the generations.
Variants dictate the way certain factors - like nutrients - will interact with your genes. In one study on obesity, for example, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at the genetics and diet of over 11,000 people. They found that, in people who carried more genetic variants associated with developing obesity, sugary drinks increased the effects of those genes.
Current research is looking at a range of possibilities when it comes to genes and nutrition. Scientists are discovering that certain diets may affect numerous aspects of your health, from body weight, to blood pressure, to insulin sensitivity, opening up the possibility of personalized dietary recommendations based on your DNA.
What Genetics Could Teach You About Your Diet
Nutrigenomic testing assesses how your genes and your diet interact on a range of health and wellness metrics. Some of the categories your genetic testing might cover include:
- Nutrient metabolism - how well do you absorb certain vitamins and minerals?
- Body weight and composition - how does your rate of caloric burn compare to others? Is it higher or lower?
- Food intolerances or sensitivities - do you have a lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, etc.?
- Cardiometabolic health - how do you metabolize caffeine?
- Eating habits - are you more likely to prefer sweet or salty foods?
- Exercise - do you burn more fat through cardio or strength training?
Other Health Factors to Consider
Genetics can only tell one part of your health and wellness story. Your overall well-being depends on a number of factors, some of which can have a positive or negative influence on your body. Other health factors to consider alongside your genetic makeup include:
- Environmental influences - living near heavy air pollution, living in a climate that doesn’t support your exercise habit
- Behavioral influences - choosing to live a sedentary lifestyle, smoking or heavy alcohol consumption
- Sleep - not getting enough or sleeping too much
- Social connections - having a strong social network has shown to increase longevity and reduce risk for certain illnesses
- Economic status - poverty increases the risk of adverse health outcomes including malnutrition, obesity, and diabetes
If you have questions about your personal health and wellness, you should speak to your health care professionals. They can assess your current health indicators, and suggest any needed additional testing, treatments, or other next steps.
Take a Deeper Dive into Nutrition Genetics with Genomelink
Thinking of taking an at-home DNA test, or already have your results? Upload your raw DNA data from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, and other testing companies to Genomelink. You’ll gain access to reports and insights that don’t exist anywhere else, including a range of health and wellness reports. Our Nutrition Advice report empowers you to walk into a store and know which foods are healthier for you, based on your unique genetic make-up. Discover your ideal skincare routine using our popular Skincare report, which tells you your skin type and provides personalized skincare recommendations.
In addition to health and wellness insights, Genomelink can help you learn more about your ancestry, physical traits, personality, more. You can even join on-going genetic research projects that are working on the next frontier of DNA science. Get started for free to access genetic reports and insights only available on Genomelink.