Updated: Mar 6
The study of the interactions between genes and nutrients has been a topic of interest in the past few decades. Nutritional Genomics consists of 2 areas - Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics. Nutrigenetics refers to the role of DNA sequence variation in the responses to nutrients and disease progression. Nutrigenomics is the study of the effects of food and food constituents on gene expression and its role in disease progression. It provides a foundation for the understanding of the biological activity of food components and impact on health. Common human chronic diseases, including cancers, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, asthma, celiac disease and more are initiated and/or accelerated by nutrient/food exposures. However chronic diseases are complex conditions and genetics plays a substantial role in disease progression.
Genetic variations (SNP's) decides predisposition for developing disease and is also one of the main reason why individuals respond differently to foods and nutrients. Genetic variations affect a nutrient’s absorption, metabolism, elimination and/or biological effects. At the same time it is important to understand that imbalanced diets, whether overnutrition or malnutrition, can have long-term consequences on human health. Overnutrition leading to obesity and cardiovascular diseases is an emerging global problem. On the other hand, malnutrition leading to deficiencies in calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients can result in serious chronic diseases. Human genetic polymorphisms can alter host genes that affect nutrient absorption and metabolism which is also one of the reasons for undernutrition or malnutrition.
Nutrigenomic profiling helps us to understand genetic variations that individuals have. A genetic variation is a permanent change in the DNA sequence that makes up a gene. Some variations increase our propensity for developing disease while others are harmless. Understanding if an individual has genetic variations determines genetic predisposition or chance of developing a particular disease. Most people do not know a genetic predisposition exists until a severe illness develops or they start showing signs and symptoms. Others may have an idea because of family history or family members are unwell. Someone with a genetic predisposition is not guaranteed to develop the disease. Instead, some external factor triggers the disease. Nutrition is one of the primary environmental factor that triggers disease and determines health. The root cause of most of the health issues lies in a person’s genes and so does the solution to these problems. Diet, Nutrition and Exercise also have the ability to reduce the harmful effect due to change is gene expression caused by methylation, oxidative stress, detoxification and inflammation at cellular level due to environment. This can be achieved by up-regulating the function of favorable genes and down-regulating the function of unfavorable genes.
Nutrigenomic profiling focuses on personalized and preventive healthcare and helps you to move towards a proactive healthcare model based on greater understanding of disease processes and your genetic ability to control these processes with right diet, right nutrition, right exercises and right lifestyle. A standard nutrigenomic test is all it takes to determine genetic variations, disease predisposition, changes in gene expression, the impact of genetic variation on nutrient’s absorption, metabolism, elimination and/or biological effects of marco and micro nutrients. The outcome of the test makes you much more aware of your health and the positive steps to be taken and changes to be made in lifestyle in order to remain healthy.
So who should really go for Nutrigenomic profiling? Nutrigenomic profiling or also called as Direct to Consumer genetic testing is actually for everyone. It has benefits to offer almost for everyone.
The Health Conscious - If you are already conscious about your health you are already in a great position to further improve your “Quality of Life” using the insights gained from Nutrigenomic profiling. Genomically audit your health, make the required changes and align your diet and nutrition requirements for achieving sustainable health benefits.
The Chronically Sick - If you are suffering from chronic ailments then nutrigenomic profiling is something that will help bring your disease under control. It will help you to understand your genetic strengths and weaknesses and make the right changes in your diet, nutrition and exercise program to take control of your health and achieve sustainable results. You can even reverse some of the problems or reduce the symptoms by targeting the root cause and improve your “Quality of Life”.
The Couch Potato – Leading a sedentary lifestyle is one of the main reasons for developing lifestyle diseases. Being more aware of yourself from within coupled with personalized lifestyle recommendations can help to encourage lifestyle behavior changes, especially when the genetic information includes actionable lifestyle recommendations. Many times it is not drastic changes but simple measurable changes and little steps at a time that can make a huge difference.
The Fitness Enthusiast – It is a known fact that exercise has a positive impact on health. However too much of exercise and not knowing the effect of exercise on health especially cardiac health and bone and muscle health can be detrimental. What if you were to carry out the exercises aligned to your genomic profile especially in line with your CLOCK gene? Then you increase your chances of getting the maximum benefits from the activities you do.
The Serious Sportsman – If you are serious a sportsman and look forward to making a career in sports then genomic profiling will help you to understand your genetic strengths and weaknesses. Whether you need to focus on power or endurance, what is your body’s ability to recover from muscle damage and injury, do you have inflammation tendency, what are the right nutrients for you and answers to many more such questions and insights can be provided by Genomic profiling to further boost your performance.
The Corporate Employee – Stress, long working hours, less or lack of exercise, irregular food, smoking and drinking and other environmental factors and impact of our lifestyle choices on our genes are the measure challenges that corporate employees face. All these have a detrimental effect on health leading to lifestyle diseases. Hence understanding your genomic profile and the role of genetic factors and their interaction with environmental / lifestyle exposures becomes important in lifestyle health management. This can help to chalk out personalized lifestyle management programs for sustainable health management.
The Mentally Stressed – Stress is a major environmental factor that can impact gene expression. Why some people are able to manage stress better than others? The answer may lie in your genes. Genetic variation affects the hormones and enzymes responsible for your psychological response during stress. Certain genes show an elevated response to stressful events - making some people more sensitive than others. Genomic profiling can throw light on how susceptible you are to stress and handling stressful situations. This awareness can help build a personalised stress management plan to alleviate stress in daily life.
The Fast and Furious – People who lead a hectic lifestyle are more prone to changes in gene expression due to environmental factors. Chronic Inflammation, oxidative stress, methylation etc… at cellular level can have detrimental effect on organ health. Though you may not be able to change your lifestyle, understanding genomic profile can help to chalk out the right diet and nutrition to counter the effect of these changes by up-regulating the favourable genes and down regulating the unfavourable genes leading to health benefits.
The Immuno Compromised – The recent Covid pandemic has shown us the importance of having a strong immune system like never before. Nearly three quarters of immune traits are influenced by genes. Genetic factors play an important role in boosting immunity, including antiviral activity and recovery. Having certain genetic variants could mean that you are more susceptible to severe infections caused by bacteria and viruses (eg., Covid-19) or have a higher propensity to ‘cytokine storm’ (a hyper responsive immune reaction).
It is true that you cannot change your genes, but the least you can do is spend time getting AWARE of what your genes have to say and compensate for their influence by making the right nutritional, exercise and lifestyle choices. Using Nutritional Genomics - a modern, scientific and evidence based approach you now have the opportunity to proactively focus on your health without waiting to fall sick. Major technological advances in the field of genetics in the last few decades have increased our knowledge of the role that our genes play in not only lifestyle disease management but achieving an optimal level of fitness, enhancing sports performance and boosting immunity.
GeneScope.ai is the leader in the Nutritional Genomics market segment and can help you make the best choices for your health by charting out programs aligned to your genomic profile to help you achieve sustainable outcome related to health, fitness, wellness and immunity.