Nutrigenomics is the study of nutrition and genetics which helps us discover the different ways that individuals respond to food based on their genetic make-up. While all humans are genetically very similar, we all have slight differences in our genetic profile which set us apart from other people. These tiny variations determine the effect that nutrients have on our bodies and how we metabolize the food that we eat.
A number of things are now starting to become clear. Studies have shown that our genes can modify our response to diet. This includes how our genes can increase our requirement for important essential nutrients such as folate, vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin C, Vitamin D, omega-3 as well as increase our sensitivity to carbohydrates, fats, alcohol, caffeine and salt. Additionally, studies are now providing insights into why some individuals appear to lose more weight more easily on a given restricted diet compared with others.
What is also starting to become more clear is that individuals find dietary recommendations based on genetics more understandable and more useful than general dietary advice. Additionally, tailored diets based on genetics may also result in better compliance, longer-term BMI reduction and improvements in blood glucose levels.
Our genes and environment both have an essential part to play in our health and our overall wellness. While our genes may help us understand more about our susceptibility to a particular health issue, it is environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle that determine which of the genetically predisposed individuals actually succumb to these health issues. Genetics loads the gun but your diet and lifestyle that pulls the trigger.
For example, people with particular genes are more likely than others to put on weight, get high blood pressure or develop diabetes when they eat certain foods (such as foods high in sugar, fat or salt).