Now that we have genetic testing for everything from ancestry to medical predispositions (Ancestry, 23andMe), is it possible to have a genetically oriented diet specific to you?
The answer is a resounding “yes”. As research into genetics has increased, so has the information on how to combine nature and nurture—environment and your pre-programming.
How could genetics affect nutrition?
Here’s an example: for most adults, alcohol consumption in moderation can provide some health benefits, as in the example of red wine and resveratrol. But did you know that if you have a certain genetic variation, regular alcohol consumption can raise your risk of developing Alzheimer’s? Or you may benefit from more folic acid, while your friend needs more B complex in her diet. Or take me, for example: I am a diagnosed Celiac. That means I have a genetic variation that makes a protein in wheat, barley, and rye poison for me to eat.
Genetics + Environment
Genetics alone do not determine your future health and well-being. Instead, it’s the interaction between your genetics and your environment, including but not limited to nutrition. This field is just beginning to gain momentum, and so this interesting topic is our tip of the week.
No two people are the same.
Take the example of two men, both of whom eat a diet low in fruits and vegetables, but high in processed carbohydrates. Why does one develop diabetes and obesity, while the other seemingly is unaffected?
Or take the example of two women who eat about the same amount of food. Why does one stay slim while the other packs on the pounds? We’ve all experienced examples of this.
What about one of my favorite examples, George Burns. Remember him? He famously said “I don’t believe in dying. It’s been done.” He smoked cigars every day, and lived until he was 100. Yet we can all point to examples of folks who never smoked at all, yet died early of lung cancer.
How does Nutrigenetics work?
So how does this actually work? One company I found that already does work in Nutrigenetics is called Vitagene. They offer a saliva test kit for both ancestry and tailored health recommendations for $99, and if you have already done either 23andMe or Ancestry previously, they offer DNA based health recommendations only utilizing your previous data for $49, so this is really pretty affordable.
How many diets have you tried in the past? We’ve all gone through the gamut of diets and theories and approaches. The cool thing about this is that it’s based on your individual needs. Should you be eating a low carb diet, or would a high fiber diet be better for you? This takes the guesswork out of it, and because it’s newly emerging field, the information can only get better.
This field of nutrigenetics takes it all one step further in helping you tailor your exercise and diet to mesh with your biology. What an amazing and interesting world we live in! Who knows what they’ll think of next?!
For more reading on Nutrigenetics:
Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist at Elite Sports Club-River Glen
Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.