Nutrigenomics is the study of nutritional genomics which is the effect of foods on gene expression. It looks towards how the external environment impacts the body and how the body therefore deals with nutrients. Research focuses on molecular-level interaction between nutrients and other dietary constituents with the genome. The main message from the conference was that understanding nutrition is not a case of ‘one size fits all’. Individual differences in our genetic make-up means that nobody is exactly the same. Every person has the potential to react differently to food and the way the body processes, stores and utilises nutrients.
Aside from the genetics that made us, the environments we are exposed to throughout life will also impact and alter our gene expression, changing the way individuals develop. These inputs from the environmental come from our everyday surroundings such as the air we breathe, the food we eat, the plastics we use and the stress we feel.
People born with an SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism - a genetic mutation) can be notably affected or unaffected by it as a consequence of their diet. For example, a child born with a defective gene for MTHFR (an enzyme crucial for function of the folate cycle) in combination with a malnourished diet will become unwell. This comes as a result of the malfunctioning of DNA synthesis, amino acid metabolism and generation of methyl groups due to an inability to metabolise folate and to produce the by-products necessary for the cycle. Whereas a child born with a defective MTHFR gene who eats a highly nutritious diet would develop with little to no defects as an efficient amount of folate would be provided through the diet for functional metabolism.
Nutrigenomics is advancing fast and DNA testing has been developed by nutritionists to provide insight into a person’s genetic make-up. This then allows tailored nutritional advice, totally specific to an individual. Alessandro Ferretti, specialist in metabolic typing, spoke at the conference on behalf of DNA FIT. This is DNA testing that provides a solid blueprint to help individuals build muscle and choose the best and most effective diet for themselves, one that is designed specific to their metabolism. He explained how some genes become methylated in response to environmental stimulus’ and that genetic testing can determine our need of and response to specific nutrients. People respond to the same macronutrients differently and what is healthy for one, may be unhealthy for another.
Emma Beswick, co-founder of INGENEIUS, also spoke about a similar opportunity to understand individual nutrition needs through DNA testing. INGENEIUS provides information on personal genetics with a breakdown of a person’s genotype and sequence of bases. This information can then be matched to the health issues of the individual, highlighting unique dietary needs and intolerances which can then be targeted for effective nutritional therapy.
Lorna Driver-Davies, our technical assistant at Wild Nutrition and nutritional therapist, spoke broadly on the importance of detoxing. Detoxing is an ancient practise used for cleansing and preserving a healthy status. Toxins are derived from different sources such as DNA oxidation, chemical compounds and industrial pollutants. Toxicity depletes the body of vital nutrients and impacts health through affecting DNA methylation and reducing the production of important antioxidants such as glutathione. Firstly, it is important to lighten the toxic load in the body through dietary change, eliminating things such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar and dairy. Secondly, the body should be assisted with supportive nutrients in a form that the body can use regardless of genetic variation. Nutrients found in food or in food-form supplements contain a ‘patchwork’ of nutrient forms, allowing the body to up or down regulate certain bio-chemical pathways, according the body’s need. This is where Food-Grown® supplements can provide huge support to the body to maintain optimum health and stability against genetic changes. Lorna spoke about how today in the modern world many people eat a ‘mono-diet’, a diet with lack of variety, which leaves people deficient of important nutrients. For people with diets like this, supplements containing food-form nutrients are essential for good health.
This is an exciting area of research with great potential for assisting successful health management. If you would like to learn more about our Food-Grown® supplements and the cleanse programmes we offer, please call our technical team at Wild Nutrition. We will be happy to explain how they can support your nutrition and lifestyle.
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