Last Updated on 3 March 2022 by Ray Plumlee
What is nutrigenomics? DNA and dieting, Personalized nutrition
The scientific study that deals with the interaction of genes and nutrition, especially with respect to the prevention or treatment of various diseases.
a) What is nutrigenomics all about?
Nutrigenomics is a subdivision of nutritional genomics and is the study of the various effects of the foods and the food constituents on the gene expression. It is an emerging field in the gene expression research domain that focuses on identifying and comprehending the interaction between nutrients and other dietary bio actives at the molecular level with the genome. In nutrigenomics, the scientists study the effect of genetics on nutrition of an individual by correlating the concepts of gene expression or single nucleotide polymorphism with a nutrient’s uptake, absorption, body metabolism, elimination or biological effects. The vision of this field is to increase the means to optimize personal nutrition with respect to an individual’s genotype.
Mechanism of this process:
By developing the understanding of the basic mechanism of the effects of the nutritional regime or the effects of nutrient components, nutrigenomics field strives hard to explain the relationship between the specific dietary uptake and the specific nutrients on the human health. Nutrigenomics has frequently been related to the idea of personalized nutrition, based on a person’s genotype. Well, there is hope that nutrigenomics will help a person to go for a personalized dietary advice, but with time, these things will become clear as this science is still in its basic forms and it would ultimately be taking decades to evolve further. The main focus of the nutrigenomics is to develop a close understanding of how the whole body responds to a diet with its biological systems. Nutrigenetics is the research focused on the effects of a single gene or a single food compound. Various companies around the globe provide the Nutrigenomics services like GeneSupport, 23&Me, and genetic healing.
b) Purpose and aims:
For the regulation of gene expression and metabolism, cell signaling is a very important component, that relies on signals that the body gets from internal and external means that ensures the maintenance of the body homeostasis. Individual nutrients can be considered individual signals, with the summation of their effects on the diet. The purpose of nutrigenomics is to point out this “nutritional signature”, or pattern of these effects that range from effects at the cellular level to the effects on the entire body systems.
c) Application of nutrigenomics:
Aging is a normal physiological process of the body, cells age due to the accumulation of the abnormal amount of the free radicals in them. These radicals are formed because of the lack of proper nutrition to the cells and various external factors like pollution, UV radiations, stress, food, etc. To check the right effect of nutrients that are needed to eliminate the increased levels of free radicals present in the cell, DNA analysis has to be performed. Furthermore, the science of nutrigenomics studies the interaction between genes and the dietary components of food. The modern scientific advances have now enabled human beings to apply nutrigenomics for the purpose of anti aging and customize the nutritional solutions in the form of supplements, needed to meet the optimal nutrition required by the body to prevent aging of cells by the formation of excess free radicals.
2) Obesity and personalized nutrition:
Obesity is one of the most common problems that is being faced by the developed countries and a widely studied topic in the field of nutrigenomics. As there are variations in the genetic makeup of various individuals, each person responds to a diet in a different way. Nutrigenomics aim to propose the preventive measures and/ or the treatment to obesity with the help of personal nutrition. This is being possible by exploring the interaction between genetic factors and dietary pattern. There are studies that suggest, an individual’s BMI (body mass index) is dependent on the genetic factors. Whilst different types of genetic variation that exist between humans, single molecule polymorphism are thought to be the most important factor for the study of nutrigenomics.
Nutrigenomics can also help in the understanding of the oncological field. There is a whole load of information about the processes that take place within the maintenance of the body that prevents abnormalities of cell that are linked to cancer and there are certain nutrients that play a role as a cofactor. Micronutrient deficiency can cause genome damage, that may be very severe depending upon the damage caused due to the exposure to certain carcinogens in the environment. With concrete logic, these micronutrients can be identified, then the risk for cancer in some individuals can be reduced significantly. Folate might be one such nutrient.
d) Main concerns for bringing nutrigenomics into practice:
To bring nutrigenomics into practice, genetic testing is needed. The test results are the reference for diagnosis. Genetic testing has already met with a lot of concerns that surrounds moral issues, ethics, and regulations. These concerns can become a part of a field that works to provide highly customized and personalized information.
Nutrigenomics and personal nutrition:
a) Personal Nutrition:
Personalized nutrition is a concept that is an analog to personalized medicine. There are various food products available in the market that focuses on the preferences or requirements of specific consumer groups, these products are a part of empirical consumer science, not the nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics.
In the contemporary history, the personal preference for the nutritional choices is always dictated. Ever since people have acquired enough knowledge and access to enough food than just the subsistence nutrition, they have changed their dietary preferences mainly on the taste of food and general health trends. Still, evidence shows that there should not be one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nutrition. Everyone’s responses to various nutrients are different, and by monitoring it, one can potentially increase the healthy life expectancy.
In recent times, a considerable proportion of people living in the Western countries have changed their diets and adapted to the ongoing health trends.
Additionally, the food is taken and ingredients used in making all these foods are either good or bad for the users, regardless of their personal characteristics and priorities.
More recently, the evidence suggests that everyone’s body responds to the food differently. For instance, one’s body processes a banana differently than someone else’s body. Consequently, the bananas are seen as a healthy food, one may benefit more from consuming them than the other person, or vice versa. This knowledge has emerged as a new science, that goes parallel to the new evidence of health data and tailored dietary advice, ongoing transitioning nutrition and food from personal preference to personal health.
The nutrigenomics and personalized nutrition has played an important role in building the scientific foundation for understanding human variations in the decisions, preferences, requirements, and responses to diet, and may become an important future tool for the consumer assessment driven by personalized nutritional counseling for health maintenance and disease prevention.