Nutrigenomics: Find out what it is, and how it impacts your diet

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Do you often wonder why a certain diet does wonders for your friend, but does nothing for your body? Or if you are likely to succeed or fail on a ketogenic diet? Or, when it comes to losing weight, is exercise more effective than food choices? The answers to these questions could lie in your genes.

According to Amol Naikawadi, preventive healthcare specialist and joint managing director, Indus Health Plus, genetic analysis of a person contributes to a growing area of nutritional medicine that offers personalised diet plans based on ‘nutrigenomics’ for people to make more informed decisions about their lifestyle habits and health.

What is nutrigenomics?

Naikawadi defines nutrigenomics as the study of how genes and diet (nutrients) interact. “Gene variants (genetic differences) predict how an individual’s body will respond to certain nutrients. For instance, variants in the ‘FTO’ gene directly impact your metabolism, energy expenditure, and energy balance, as well as weight management. FTO gene variants determine how your body will metabolise carbohydrates, fats and proteins,” he says.

The expert adds that one can choose a diet plan that works well as per their genetics under the guidance of a dietitian.

“Nutrigenomic test results help us make our daily dietary decisions in a better way,” he says, adding that your genetic variant may indicate that you are more likely to:

1. Develop high blood pressure or cholesterol: By knowing this, you can prevent these conditions from occurring. You can reduce your sodium and saturated fat intake, for instance.
2. Crave sweets: Make a game plan to control your cravings and avoid eating too much. You might be able to prevent type 2 diabetes by following these results.
3. Get jitters when you drink caffeine: You now know why you feel shaky after drinking caffeine. You may feel inspired to ignore it for good.
4. Lose weight on a high-protein diet: Knowing how your body reacts to macronutrients like protein, fat, and carbohydrates will give you the confidence to follow a personalised diet plan.
5. Burn more fat with strength training or cardio: Focus on the most efficient fat-burning system for faster results.

How does nutrigenomic testing work?

According to Naikawadi, DNA tests for nutrigenomics are performed by swabbing the inside of the mouth or with your saliva, which are sent to a lab for analysis and you receive the results a few weeks later. “There are 70 or more genes that can be analysed at one go,” he says.

nutrigenomics, what is nutrigenomics, diet and genes, dietary decisions personalised nutrition, healthy diet, healthy food, genes, genetics, indian express news Gene variants (genetic differences) predict how an individual’s body will respond to certain nutrients. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

Impact of nutrigenomics on your diet

The expert adds that nutrigenomics allows you to determine what parts of your diet impact your health, and can reduce disease risks.

“An example is high blood pressure. It’s one thing to know if it runs in your family, but it’s another to see a strong genetic sign. Even if you have the variant, it doesn’t mean it is inevitable. With the help of a dietitian, you can develop an actionable plan — such as lowering sodium — to live a healthier life.”

Personalised nutrition — which is, diet recommendations tailored to suit your genetics, preferences, and predispositions — can replace “one-size-fits-all advice” in the future, Naikawadi says.

He, however, cautions that genetic tendencies are “forecasts, not guarantees”.

“Nutrigenomics cannot eliminate all the trial-and-error, diet, supplements, and workout routines. But the benefit of nutrigenomics is that it gives you a more targeted approach to determining what steps you can take to feel better,” he concludes.

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