You are what you eat?
Eat what you are?
Imagine being able to personalise your diet in relation to your genetic make-up! This is ‘Diet personalisation’ at its best!
Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics are distinct from one another, but ultimately they both aim to deliver a diet that maximises the relationship between a person’s genes and specific nutritional molecules. The aim is to optimise health directly through diet, literally letting your genetic make-up direct your dietary intake. We all adhere to the notion that we need certain amounts of certain food groups to promote healthfulness and wellbeing, and stave off chronic conditions such as Obesity, Heart disease, and/or Diabetes. It is widely accepted that health is dependent on both nature (heredity/genes) and environmental factors such as diet, smoking, exercise and up- bringing/education, therefore it stands to reason that both aspects are critical in optimising health. It appears that diet does not conform to the ‘one drug one target’ notion that has been accepted in the pharmaceutical industry; instead a specific dietary component seems to have a different physiological effect on one person when compared to another (Kaput, 2004; Mutch, Wahli and Williamson, 2005).
Despite Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics both directly relating to nutrition and the genome, they are both unique in their own right…Here’s where it gets interesting/complicated (delete accordingly).
Nutrigenomics refer to the effect that certain nutrients have on the genome (entire genetic make-up). It focuses on how what we eat, and indeed what our parents ate, affects the developmental course of our cells and biological system. It seems that what we eat will direct our physiological development in completely unique ways depending on our genetic make-up.
Nutrigenetics looks at the way someone’s genetic make-up affects their physiological response to the nutrients they consume. It is thought that peoples gene variants i.e. differences between peoples genetic make-up result in different responses to certain nutrients, and how these interactions can lead to the onset of certain disease states. There are similar diets that have stemmed from this theory; one prime example is the ‘Blood type diet’. Ok, so the blood type diet hasn’t revolutionised the way we eat and drink, but it is widely accepted that the science behind both this and Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics is valid, and will someday revolutionise the way we eat, drink and live (Mutch, Wahli and Williamson, 2005; Arab, 2004).
Until the white coats fully understand the mechanisms and establish genome specific diets etc, all we can do is adhere to the dietary recommendations of the British Dietetic Association (BDA) and The Food Standards Agency. In the mean time then, eat right, supplement appropriately, and train hard. It seems that eventually we may end up consulting both our personal trainer, as well as our Nutrigenetic coordinator too… Watch this space guys
Kaput, J. (2004). Diet-disease gene interactions. Nutrition 20: 26-31.
Arab, L. (2004). Individualized nutritional recommendations: do we have the measurements needed to assess risk and make dietary recommendations? Proc. Nutr. Soc. 63: 167-172
Mutch, D., Wahli, W., & Williamson, (2005). Nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics: the emerging faces of nutrition. 12: 1602-1616.