We’ve all been told that genes are something we inherit from our mom and dad. They determine if your eyes are blue or brown and if your hair is straight or curly, but that’s not all. The fast and growing research in nutrigenomics says that your genetics can also determine how your body processes food.
The Evolution of Nutrition
This idea goes back to our early ancestors. Over time, our ancestors had to adapt their eating habits and change their living conditions in order to survive. These habits and conditions altered the ways different cultures processed foods. For example, when Europeans started farming cattle and drinking milk, they adapted to be able to digest lactose, the sugar that’s found in milk and other dairy products. However, other regions didn’t get that same exposure. This often causes them to have difficulty digesting lactose today. As you can imagine, our ancestor’s access to food was intricately linked with survival, which is why it’s one of the primary causes of our unique set of genes. In today’s world, we are no longer confined to the foods which grow nearby. We can go to the grocery store to pick up milk without a problem. It seems great to have access to so many options, but it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Nutrition in Today’s World
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, poor nutrition was the leading risk factor for death in 2016. If you consider related factors such as high blood pressure (17.4%), high BMI (13.9%), and high cholesterol (8.41%), nutrition accounts for nearly 60% of overall risk. The best way to stay healthy, then, is to consume food that reduces these risks. So what are the healthiest foods?
What Is the Healthiest Food We Can Eat?
If you do a Google search for “healthiest foods,” here is what you will find:
- Green Tea
- Sweet Potato
This list is based on facts, but also heavily influenced by fads and trends. Ideally, we want a list of foods based on science, but more importantly, we want foods that are personalized to our needs. Is there a way to find this out?
This is the question our founder, Sherry Zhang, had many years back when she was studying the genetic basis for metabolic issues we see in obesity, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and low-grade chronic inflammation. Over the last 10 years, the advancements in DNA technologies, nutritional science, and our understanding of metabolism and health have allowed us to make nutrition more personal. We can now find an individual’s unique nutritional needs based on their genes, and connect them with the foods that best fulfill those needs. We call this new approach to healthy eating "eating for your genes."
What Does “Eating for Your Genes” Mean, Exactly?
Simply put, eating for your genes means that you use your DNA as an information guide for what you eat. For example, there are numerous genes that affect how your body breaks down, absorbs, uses, and stores fats. Through genetic testing and analysis of these genes, we can understand how your body metabolizes fats and provide you with the foods that will best nourish your body. The same mechanism goes for other macronutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins, as well as for micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and common substances like caffeine and alcohol.
Here’s how it looks in practice. Jim and Amber are a married couple. As they are genetically unrelated individuals with unique genetic makeups, they have distinct nutrient needs. For example, based off research, Jim’s genotype has a higher demand for omega-3 fatty acids, a lower demand for carbohydrates and sugar, and a moderate demand for fiber. Based on Amber’s genotype, she may thrive on moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates and sugar, and higher amounts of fiber. These differences in nutritional needs makes certain foods better for Jim versus Amber, and vice versa. For example, raspberries have a nutrition profile that’s more compatible with Jim’s genes, while tangerines have a nutrition profile that’s more compatible with Amber’s genes.
Even though raspberries have more fiber than tangerines, raspberries are overall a better match for Jim’s genetic-based nutritional needs, and vice versa for Amber. It’s unlikely that a food will fit your profile perfectly, which is why we need to eat a variety of foods. At GenoPalate, we compare your nutritional needs to the nutrients in hundreds of different foods, so we can tell you which ones best match your genetic makeup.
Why Eat for Your Genes?
Your genetic information is a wonderful personal asset that belongs to you and you only. Being able to leverage the knowledge and wisdom carried by your unique genes can be very beneficial to your health.
Some of the many benefits of eating for your genes:
Unlocking your nutritional genetic information puts us in a position we have never been in. You can now be empowered with intelligence about your unique DNA to make smarter food choices for your health. If you ever wonder what the healthiest foods are for you, start eating based on your unique genetic makeup.
What to Do
The first step to understanding how your genes respond to food is taking a DNA test. GenoPalate offers a DNA testing kit as well as an option to upload DNA data if you have already done DNA testing services such as 23andMe and Ancestry. We then transform your DNA data into nutrition and food recommendations, so you can eat smarter. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to health. Order a GenoPalate Report today and personalize your nutrition for a healthier you.