Genetic nutrition uses personal genetic information to guide dietary recommendations. These recommendations are more effective at the individual level in contrast to traditional diets. Nutritional genetic research examines the relationship between the human genome, nutrition and health. Scientists are working towards developing a holistic understanding of the body’s response to food on a cellular level.
Nutrients from food can affect gene expression; on the other, our genes are able to influence how our bodies respond to these nutrients. The subtleties and intricacies of gene-nutrient interaction coupled with the impact of environmental factors makes nutritional genetics highly complex.
Future advances in nutritional genetic research and nutritional genomics will provide more accurate information. Until then take it with a grain of salt. Do your research and consult your doctor or registered dietitian. As an unregulated emerging field still in its infancy, genetic nutrition research requires more standardization. The authors of a 2017 article published in the BMC sought out to develop rules that uphold the scientific integrity of research methodologies and evidence. Standardization ensures results are more consistent, reliable and reproducible.
What’s Currently Known about Genetic Nutrition
Genetic nutrition is not a magic solution, it isn’t a singular, static ‘diet’. It’s a way to fine tune your consumption of food with the goal of optimizing for a specific health need(s). A body’s response to various food and activities largely differs from person to person.
There are a lot of unknowns, simply put, the science is too fresh. Still in its infancy, it’d be questionable to consider your genetic nutrition the end all be all. As of yet, the complexity of gene expression yields only possibilities, no certainties. Remembering this is important if you want to give genetic nutrition a try to see if it works for you.
As science continues to advance, scientists will continue to observe and map these interactions, the more accurate and effective genetic nutrition becomes. Genetic nutrition has the potential to be an extremely powerful tool in managing and maintaining our health. At the moment, conducting research is expensive, and due to its emerging status, experiments are prone to error — this area of science is in need of more scientists willing to study it. Scientific papers are sparse as well as inconclusive. There aren’t enough published works, methodologies and experiments are not standardized or reproducible.
What is Genetic Variation
Genetic variation is the difference in DNA sequences between individuals within a population. Variation occurs in sperm and egg cells, and also in all other cells. You can only inherit variation that arises in sperm and egg cells. Mutations are major sources of variation. A mutation is a permanent alteration to a DNA sequence. New mutations occur when there is an error during DNA replication that DNA repair enzymes do not correct.
Genotypes are the genetic make-up of an individual. Phenotypes are the physical traits and characteristics of an individual; both their genotype and the environment impact them. Genetic differences or variation between individuals leads to differences in an individual’s phenotype, trait or risk of developing a disease. In most cases, associations between genetic variants and phenotypes/traits are not this simple. Complex phenotypes exist and may have multiple variants in the genome along with environmental factors influencing them.
What is Genetic Expression
In genetics, gene expression is the most basic level at which the genotype gives rise to the phenotype. Gene expressions “deciphers” the code stored in DNA, and the properties of the expression give rise to an organism’s phenotype (your physical appearance). Regulation of gene expression is vital to the development of organisms.
The environment strongly defines our genetic expression. Over which we do have some power. Our genes can be influenced by all kinds of things, such as: dietary components, nutrient deficiencies or excesses, age, gender, sunlight, ethnicity, duration of sleep, amount of physical activity, sedentary behavior, stress, toxins, smoking, alcohol consumption, use of medication, depression, bacteria and viruses and other factors we probably don’t know about yet. If we know more about our genetic variants, we might be able to make healthy adjusts to our lifestyles or environments.