How does nutrigenomics help your health?

Nutrigenomics is a bridge between food and DNA attached to disease. We show you what it is and how it can change your life.

Last update: 05 July, 2022

Technological and medical advances have always gone hand in hand. The end of it is to solve health problems. Nutrigenomics is an example of technological changes at the service of humanity. Peering into our genes to discover how the nutrients we eat can affect us is completely individualizing the diet.

This is how nutrigenomics provides more information regarding choosing the best foods or the most convenient diets for our genome. This branch of science can help prevent disease, promote weight loss, improve athletic performance, and much more.

Follow along with us to learn about the breadth of this technology in customizing your lifestyle and achieving better health.

What is nutrigenomics?

In the 21st century, information on the complete human genome was obtained. And with it, the relationship between DNA and health.

As a result of this discovery, other branches of molecular nutrition have emerged, such as nutrigenomics, which focuses on studying the effects of nutrients on the body’s genome, proteins and metabolism.

From another perspective, nutrigenomics identifies specific nutrients linked to disease. This is how strong links have been established between diet and genes, as well as with lifestyle.

Therefore, this discipline moves in a triad:

  1. Human genome.
  2. Nutrition.
  3. Health

It represents the basis of the preventive medicine of the future.

Other concepts that emerged were those of nutrigenetics and epigenetics. The first refers to how genes can condition nutritional needs. The second, to how external factors modify the expression of genes.

The identification of certain genes can predict how each body will respond to certain nutrients. For example, the FTO gene is related to energy expenditure and metabolism, affecting weight control and body composition. Therefore, a nutritionist could help you choose the best eating plan to avoid overweight and obesity.

What is nutrigenomics based on?

Nutrigenomics is based on 3 principles:

  • Nutrients and biochemical compounds that we ingest in our diet interact with the genome. This relationship can be direct or indirect and regulates gene expression.
  • Some diet-regulated genes play an important role in the origin, incidence, progression or severity of chronic diseases
  • Genetic variations between individuals can influence in our way of metabolizing nutrients.
The complete knowledge about the human genome laid the foundations for an individualized medicine.

Objectives of nutrigenomics for health

Nutrigenomics is especially relevant in precision medicine, adapting preventive measures and treatments to the particular characteristics of each person. This branch aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Cause changes in cellular metabolism and metabolic profiles, in order to prevent, mitigate, forecast and cure diseases. Especially those in which the nutritional factor is the most important causal element.
  • Discover which components of the diet have health benefits.
  • Understand how our genes interact with the different nutritional elements.
  • Determine effective doses of nutrients to consume
  • Develop individual dietary recommendations. In this way, nutritional plans would be more efficient.

Although there are many answers, there is still material to cut. In addition, there are some complex diseases in which nutrition is only part of the total factors. This is the case of cardiovascular diseases and obesity, for example.

Applications of nutrigenomics in health

In nutrigenomics there have been some advances so that nutrition contributes to recovering health. Here we explain them.

Development of dietary portfolios

One of the most widespread applications of nutrigenomics is the development of dietary portfolios or PDs for specific diseases. These portfolios are created with the combination of two or more functional foods that are designed for a pathology or a specific group.

The most important thing about the PD is that it is based on scientific evidence that confirms the effect of each nutrient on health. Until now, several PDs are known to exist for different diseases, although not all of them work properly.

An example is the portfolio developed for metabolic syndrome (obesity, high blood pressure, increased blood sugar, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol). The PD of this disease includes 4 functional foods: soy protein, oatmeal, chia seeds and dehydrated nopal. Each of these foods has been studied and shown to have an effect on metabolic syndrome, including gene activation and transcription.

Provides evidence on healthier diets

Until now there are several studies that demonstrate the effect of the Mediterranean diet on the genome. Thus, this type of regimen is recommended for people who are susceptible or at risk of becoming ill.

In general, the pattern of the Mediterranean diet is characterized by the following:

  • A high consumption of vegetables, fruitswhole grains, legumes and nuts.
  • Predominance of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil.
  • High fish consumption.
  • Moderate amounts of poultry and dairy.
  • Low consumption of red meat and its derivatives.
  • Moderate consumption of alcohol, such as red wine.

Evidence indicates that the Mediterranean style of diet may counteract genetic risk. In particular, the interactions of the diet with the FTO gene of obesity and the MC4R that determines the risk of diabetes. Likewise, its genetic interaction with the risk of hypertriglyceridemia was established.

Helps make better nutritional decisions

Nutrigenomics provides information that helps to discern whether or not it is convenient to consume certain foods. These decisions can improve, recover or prevent some health conditions. For example, if the person is prone to high blood pressure or high cholesterol, then plan to reduce sodium and saturated fat intake.

If you have an inclination towards sweets, you can create a plan to counteract this condition and prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. Likewise, you can find out if a high-protein diet helps with weight loss. If so, a plan is prepared based on this result.

Thus, genetic information will allow a healthier life, modifying external factors related to diet and health.

Nutrition professionals can use nutrigenomics to improve the quality of life of their patients.

How are nutrigenomic tests applied?

To obtain genetic information a simple swab of the inside of the mouth is performed. Then it is sent to the laboratory for analysis and you have to wait a few weeks to get the results on the gene variations.

It must be made clear that the test results show the potential for a health condition and how the body will respond to certain nutrients. It’s about probabilities; therefore, it does not mean that it is a fact.

Also, results should be guided by a dietician with training in nutrigenomics. The professional will explain the effect on health and the foods or nutrients to select.

Is nutrigenomics an efficient tool to improve your health?

Personalized nutrition, based on genetics, predispositions and preferences, can replace general nutritional recommendations in the future. Decision making will be more reliable. However, let us remember that the trend is a forecast and not a guarantee.

A great advance of nutrigenomics is that with it the mechanisms of action of nutrients to prevent or recover from certain diseases can be known. Likewise, the food industry can develop new dietary products with health benefits.

More studies are still required to be able to determine individual susceptibility for some health disorders and implement measures to prevent them. With all this, it seeks to improve the quality of life of people.

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