In our entirely biased opinion, the most exciting field of healthcare is nutritional genomics. Or, as it's more snappily called, nutrigenomics.
Anyone who tries to follow the latest trends in nutrition and diet recommendations understands the field is always changing. Many complain they feel the experts are too fickle, and that diets are “faddish”.
The thing is, nutritional recommendations are tricky. Every person’s genetics gives them different potential problems, from lactose intolerance to a greater risk of heart disease. This is why nutrigenomics is so exciting. It lets nutritionists develop diets designed for maximum health benefits for a specific person, just with a simple DNA test.
Today we’ll take a brief look at the past, present, and exciting future of nutrigenomics.
The History of Nutrigenomics
Even at the turn of the 20th Century, people were starting to understand there were complex connections between health, food, and genetics. People hypothesized that the supposedly extra-long lives of Bulgarians may have to do with their ethnicity or the yoghurt they loved.
One of the first real practitioners of nutrigenomics was Ivar Asbjørn Følling. He was a Norwegian doctor who determined in 1934 that the disease phenylketonuria (PKU), which caused problems in processing phenylalanine, had a genetic origin. It was later determined that the solution was to prescribe children born with PKU a diet low in phenylalanine—a solution with miraculous results.
In the 1960s, the link between lactose intolerance and genetics began to be better understood. More specifically, they began to be able to link lactose intolerance specifically with the enzyme “lactate” - while everyone makes lactate as a baby, only some have the genetics to continue to make it past childhood.
One of the most important moments for nutrigenomics came during the 1990s with the Human Genome Project, which determined the sequence of the human genome and its DNA. This provided key data for future practitioners of nutrigenomics, letting individual genetic variants be tested against certain diets.
As of 2017, the nutrigenomics industry has truly taken off. The interest in nutrigenomics can be connected to rising health concerns in America, particularly obesity. It is also related to greater media exposure as to how celebrities, particularly athletes, are using nutrigenomics to enhance performance.
Nutrigenomics has also risen in popularity with the greater sophistication of at-home DNA tests, pioneered by companies such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA. This has made at-home DNA testing easier than ever, only requiring unintrusive, pain-free saliva swabs—no needles necessary! The accuracy of these tests has also increased significantly as science improves and equipment becomes more affordable.
As more and more nutritionists and consumers come to understand and use nutrigenomics, it is poised to make “fad dieting” a thing of the past, and break the cycle of diet disappointment. Doctors and patients will approach dieting as a personalized prescription, with the dietary DNA test becoming a healthcare standard.
Considering estimates of the genetic component link in obesity range from 40-70%, this could have massive impacts on global health, cutting into one of the most serious health concerns Americans face.
Beyond just bodyweight, issues with cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin regulation could all be significantly alleviated through nutrigenomics. An understanding of genetics could be a key component in future nutrition strategies. The genetic testing practiced with nutrition could even expand to medicines and drugs, changing the bulk product pharmaceutical industry into a deliverer of customized care.
You Don’t Need to Wait
While speculation about the future is always fun, it doesn’t do much for anyone today. Here at GenoPalate we are right on the cutting edge of nutrigenomics, letting you take a small but assured step into the future.
Getting your nutritional recommendations based on your genetics is easy. Simply order our at-home nutritional genomics kit, conduct a saliva swab, and ship it to our lab. Within a few business days, we’ll send you hundreds of foods matched specifically to your DNA, macro and micronutrient intake recommendations, as well as an analysis of how your body metabolizes caffeine and alcohol. We’ll also note your genetic likelihood of sensitivities to lactose and gluten.
Say goodbye to fad dieting, say hello to the personalized future of nutrition!