Nutritional genomics, also known as nutrigenomics, is the science of studying the relationship between the human genome, nutrition, and health. While this science is often thought of as new and revolutionary, it is actually quite ancient. Hippocrates, a Greek physician in classical Greece, is often referred to as the “Father of Medicine” and avidly studied the relationship of food and health. The only difference today is that we have modern technologies to take it a step further. Hippocrates
The Origin of Modern Nutrigenomics
In the 1990’s, the science of molecular genetics took a revolutionary step forward, as researchers began to identify the human genome, with new technologies. The Human Genome Project, which sequenced the entire DNA in the human genome, gave rise to the science of modern nutrigenomics. By 2007, scientists were discovering numerous interrelationships between genes, nutrition, and various diseases. Nutrigenomics research: a review.
Why Nutrigenomics is Important
Diet Recommendations should be Personalized
Traditional diet guidelines have been based on large-scale epidemiological studies, and thus, gravitate to the mean. Thus, these guidelines work for some people, but completely fail for others. Nutrigenomics can provide individuals with a clear understanding of how their body reacts to the foods they eat, and thus create a diet that optimizes your health.
Prescription Medications Will Improve
Through the study of nutrigenomics, prescription drugs will also likely become more personalized over time. In the current environment, most doctors and patients simply do not know whether a medication will cause an adverse drug reaction or not, until it happens. This could be a game changer and potentially save lives.
Positive Impact on Obesity and Other Disease States
The potential for preventing and treating certain diseases is significant. Here are the results of one particular weight loss study. The study used nutrigenomics to create a personalized diet plan for a group of individuals vs. a control group who received generic diet guidelines. After one year, those in “the personalized group were more likely to have lost weight and kept it off. They also lost more weight than the control group, saw longer-term reduction in their body mass index and improved their blood glucose levels.”
Two Examples of Genetic Differences
Missing Gene that impacts Broccoli’s Detox Abilities
Broccoli is considered a super food by most doctors, dieticians, etc. However, there is a gene that gets turned on by certain compounds in broccoli, which then stimulates detoxification pathways. Yet, in about 20% of the population, this gene is actually missing, meaning that consuming broccoli will not have any detox effects for these people. Of course, this doesn’t mean that broccoli is not good for these folks. It simply means that they won’t get the detoxification effects as others do.
Consider also the fact that some people are lactose intolerant, while others have no problems with cow’s milk. Researchers have found that in babies who are intolerant to milk, it is because of an LCT gene mutation. Ruther, science has also shown that for adults who develop a lactose intolerance later in life, it is due to a gradually decreasing activity of the LCT gene. Contrast this to the fact that many people experience no issues with lactose their entire lives, which means that their LCT genes have not mutated nor developed a gradual degradation.
To finish off this article, I want to leave you with a quote from the highly esteemed Dr. Mark Hyman, of the Cleveland Clinic, from 2006.
“The new science of nutrigenomics teaches us what specific foods tell your genes. What you eat directly determines the genetic messages your body receives. These messages, in turn, control all the molecules that constitute your metabolism the molecules that tell your body to burn calories or store them. If you can learn the language of your genes and control the messages and instructions they give your body and your metabolism, you can radically alter how food interacts with your body, lose weight, and optimize your health.”