Nutrigenomics focuses on the interaction between genes, nutrition and health. It is an approach to health which recognises that everyone is an individual and has different nutrient needs depending on their inherited genetic variations. These genetic variations are associated with different responses to foods, specific micronutrients, chemicals, environmental pollutants and other lifestyle factors – such as sleep, exercise and ability to handle stress.
Traditionally, most people have coped with the recommended nutrient intakes as the Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDIs) are designed to cover the majority of the population – usually most people will meet their nutrient needs with these recommendations. However, as our world becomes more polluted, our food becomes more depleted of nutrients, our diets become more processed and “convenient”, we are exposed to more toxic chemicals in our homes and environment, and our lives become more stressed and busy (and hence we get less sleep, rest and physical activity), our body can no longer keep up with the nutrient demands required to keep us functioning optimally.
A lot of this does come down to our genetics as the biochemical pathways required to process toxins (detoxification) require enzymes, and enzymes are coded for by genes, and if there are mutations in genes then some of these enzymes may not be working optimally. Furthermore, some of these enzymes need vitamins and minerals to work effectively, and we can improve the efficiency of our enzymes if we have enough nutrients. If we are deficient in nutrients then some of our key enzymes will cease working and some important pathways will stop working altogether. Interestingly, our body prioritises which pathways are more important – so while we know that Selenium is important for over 300 reactions in the body, if we are deficient in selenium then our body will prioritise it for the most important functions the body needs, and that may not be neutralising free radicals.
We are seeing more and more autoimmune conditions, mood disorders, behavioural problems in children, cognitive decline, hormonal disturbances, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Nutrigenomic panel testing, along with relevant blood tests and other functional biochemical markers can help us tailor dietary advice to your individual needs. Combined with microbiome analysis, this is potentially an incredibly powerful way to both understand what you personally need to be healthy, as well as motivate you to make the changes you need to see results. And by results, I don’t mean weight loss results, but biochemical markers that indicate improved health – because ultimately that is what really matters.