Will a vegetarian diet make you feel great and have glowing skin, or will you end up lacking energy and vitality? Will a ketogenic diet help you to lose weight and improve focus or will it raise your cholesterol? The answer to these questions may be found within your genes.
It was previously thought that our genes were fixed, and that there was not much that we could do if we were genetically inclined to be overweight or to develop diabetes. This in part led to a quest to find the perfect diet, one that would be a saviour to all our health woes. We have seen many health trends come and go through the years, each one promising to help you lose weight, increase energy and improve your overall health. While many of these diets have merits in their own right – whether it be vegetarian, keto or paleo – we know for certain that there is no one-size-fits-all diet that works for everyone, no matter how fashionable it may be at the time.
Current research points towards the need for more personalisation when it comes to diet and lifestyle choices.
Keto Bombs may be all the rage, but they might not be particularly suited to your unique genetic blueprint.
This idea is not a new one. In approximately 480 B.C., Hippocrates – known as the father of western medicine – wrote, “Positive health requires a knowledge of man’s primary constitution and of the powers of various foods, both those natural to them and those resulting from human skill.”
Thanks to The Human Genome Project and the subsequent mapping of the human genome in 2003, the door was opened to the potential for a more precise and personalised approach to nutrition and health. While still in its relative infancy, the emerging field of nutrigenomics – how our genes are influenced by the food we eat – is set to be a game-changer in the wellness industry.
DNA analysis has shed a light on why people may respond differently to the exact same nutrients. Variations on a group of genes that govern metabolism influence how efficiently our bodies utilise fat, carbs and protein and how a different set of genetic variations may be impacting hunger and satiety. The implications for helping people achieve their health and weight loss goals with up-and-coming research is very promising.
The field of epigenetics considers how our environment, along with nutrition and exercise, affects the way our genes behave.
As a nutritionist specialising in women’s health, these are exciting times. So many women suffer with not only the dreaded weight gain, but debilitating symptoms as they go through the menopause. These symptoms can be more pronounced if there is hormonal imbalance in the years preceding menopause. Imagine if you had the insight that would help you to prepare for this transition ahead of time by implementing nutrition and lifestyle changes to promote hormone balance and potentially prevent the diseases that are so often thought of as a natural part of getting older?
By applying nutrition science and nutrigenomics we can influence the way our genes behave. Scientists have discovered that certain compounds in food can essentially switch genes on or off thus impacting important metabolic processes in the body. For example, sulforaphane is a bioactive compound found in cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts) that positively influences genes involved in the detoxification of harmful oestrogens and other toxic substances. This can help to prevent DNA damage and improve hormone balance by encouraging the elimination of oestrogen once it has done its job.
According to Kate Scott, nutritional therapist, nutrigenomics specialist and co-founder of DNApal, “The great thing about a DNA test is that your genes don’t change so your results are relevant for life.” The research continues to evolve, therefore, so does the potential for even further personalisation of your diet and lifestyle to suit your genes.
DNA analysis cuts through the dietary trends and offers a more personalised approach to health.
Our genes influence how our bodies respond to the food we eat and our need for specific nutrients. Genetic variations between individuals may help to explain why certain patterns of eating work for some people but not for others.
The importance of a personalised approach to nutrition was identified long ago.
Science has identified thousands of bioactive compounds in food (mainly plant foods) that promote health through their influence on cellular and metabolic processes.
The emerging field of nutrigenomics – how our genes are influenced by food – is set to be a game-changer in the wellness industry and offers tremendous potential in the field of women’s health.
Analysing your DNA only has to be done once as DNA doesn’t change. The science however is always evolving and with that comes the potential for even further personalisation of health and wellbeing.
DipNut, mBANT, rCNHC, mIFM
BANT Registered Nutritionist ®