There are countless eating plans and diets out there begging you to take their advice and promising significant results. Whilst the amount of information that can be accessed online today is a very useful thing, it is important to be mindful that what works for others may not always work for you.
Your body is unique and distinctive from others, and your body may not reap the same benefit as your friend even though you do the same things. Our bodies are simply hardwired differently. This is why many people end up wasting so much time trying out different generic diets before finding the one that works best and is compatible to them.
Fortunately there is a new and exciting field of science called nutrigenomics that can shed some light on what exactly can work best for each person.
What Is Nutrigenomics?
As the word suggests, it cuts out the guesswork because it’s all based on your genes. Your genes are made up of your DNA that contains the instructions to make specific molecules, mostly proteins. Most of the DNA we have does not differ from person to person. Just a small amount, less than 1% of our entire DNA, is what makes each of us completely different and unique, from our personality to our physical features to our body’s strengths and imperfections. This new field of science studies how the presence of these differences affects our response to certain foods. It studies the genetic mutations that can occur in an individual, which can then result in food intolerances or differences in metabolism. Mutations can occur when a part of the DNA is substituted for another, is deleted or when extra parts are inserted.
Nutrigenomics is ground-breaking as it allows us to find out what foods are the most compatible and incompatible with a person’s genetics and allows the correction of these through personalised nutrition.
For example, it is already common knowledge that a high-GI diet or one high in simple sugars contributes to the development of Type 2 Diabetes. However, the presence of a specific genotype TF7L2 makes this 2.7 times more likely. A low-GI diet in this same population significantly lowers the risk of developing the condition. This association was found in a large study known as the Nurses’ Health Study. In healthy people who have not developed Type 2 Diabetes and carry this genotype therefore, it would make sense to consume an overall low-GI diet. This type of knowledge gives them so much power in preventing the disease from happening in the first place. After all, preventing the disease is much easier than treating it.
How can Nutrigenetics help your diet?
Nutrigenomics is revolutionary. It recognises that one body may need more antioxidants whilst another may have a lower sensitivity to carbohydrates or caffeine, allowing appropriate action to be taken to cater to those specificities. Through recognising the particular needs of each person, proper action can be taken to boost the individual’s health. It is extremely useful in studying and managing diet related diseases, cardiovascular diseases and also presents new perspectives on cancer. It offers a new direction in tackling the obesity epidemic that plagues many countries. The disproportionate amount of calorie intake is just one factor that plays a role in obesity. Another hugely important factor is genetics, actually accounting for up to 70% of the variation. There are many genes associated with obesity and becoming aware of them is crucial to taking action.
Researchers in India for example are now pushing for this new field of science to become more widely available. It would be much easier to identify and target the population at risk and start prevention with vitamin A supplementation, which is known to target fat cells. In countries like India where obesity is such a widespread problem, this new medicine would certainly change the health scene. In essence, it demonstrates that there is no ‘one size fits all’ policy when it comes to health and wellbeing. It is allowing us to take our health through a new, and best of all, customised path to wellbeing.
The best way to use this medicine branch is not just to find out about your DNA, but also to work with a health professional to effectively find ways to change the environment that affects your genetic potential.
Nutrigenomics and You
So, now that it is obvious that knowing the link between food and your genes has immense benefits, how do you go about finding yours?
The science and knowledge of this medicine is becoming more and more widespread and this has thankfully made it more accessible to the general public. DNAFit allows anyone to access his or her personal genetics through an easy test that can be taken at home. All that is required is a saliva swab and DNAFit will send out a comprehensive report on your DNA and how your body reacts to different foods.
How can Nutrigenomics help you lose weight?
If you are on a weight loss journey, you can check what your carbohydrate and saturated fat sensitivity is and make changes to the portions of your food as necessary. It can tell you how much caffeine is too much, your need for antioxidants and omega-3, etc. If you are into fitness, you can see whether your body best responds to an exercise regime that is short and intense or longer but consistent. You can see whether your body has a natural aptitude for endurance or power sports and what your body’s best recover time is. Such information as well as a variety of others like lactose intolerance and vitamin needs are all handed to you along with an action plan on how to implement the recommendation in the best way.
You can find out more information about this through my "Main Course Program". This is a program I designed for people who are serious in taking care of their health and want to find sustainable results. In this program, I explain the results of your DNAFit swab and work with you to come up with a personalised nutrition program – not only in terms of the food you eat but also tackling your eating habits, and balancing other aspects of your life that affect nutrition.
This guest post is written by Ireland-based Dr. Denise Karlyn Hee, a medical doctor practicing nutrigenomic medicine and certified integrative nutrition health coach. If you’d like to find out more about this topic or consult with Dr. Denise, feel free to message her via her RingMD profile (profile here). She can help set you up with a nutrigenomic kit and customise your diet to suit your body!
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