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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Langabeer

Taking Control of Your Health with Nutrigenomics

Updated: Aug 9, 2023


Green salad
Healthy salad

Personalized nutrition is now available for you

Are you curious as to why certain foods or diets are better for some people, but not everyone? Do you wonder how much your personal genetic blueprint—the DNA you inherited from your parents—*really* affects your health? And what, if anything, can you do to work with your genes to help you be an even healthier version of you?


New science can tell an amazing story about how your genes affect your nutritional needs and what you, as a unique person in this world, should focus on to reach your optimal health goals. It’s called “personalized nutrition” and it uses the groundbreaking science of nutrigenomics (nutrition + genomics) to inform you on what makes your needs different from mine.


In this blog post, I’m unpacking the latest science and sharing how you may benefit from the insight you can get from nutrigenomics. You’ll be able to see how it can provide you with actionable nutrition and lifestyle recommendations that you can use to boost your health and wellness.


You are a unique person with unique needs to optimize your health and wellness. A diet that someone else swears by may not work for you (or vice versa). But yet, you see so many “blanket” recommendations on what to eat or which supplements to take and you wonder how much that really applies directly to you. Unlike others, you may be able to enjoy coffee in the evening without any major sleep issues, but have a terrible reaction to gluten (the protein in wheat). Or perhaps, you may need more folate (vitamin B9) than others, but sodium doesn’t affect your blood pressure as much.


Guess what? There are genes—and variations of these genes—that can explain why you are unique. And now with recent scientific and technological advances, there is a smarter way to know what nutrition and lifestyle strategies you need to thrive, rather than the old method of following standardized recommendations and seeing how it goes for you as an individual. This opportunity for personalized or precision nutrition is based on the rapidly expanding field of research that specifically looks for some of your unique needs in your own DNA. Imagine what you could do with the insight to know which diet, food, or nutrients you should focus on and ones that aren’t as important.


This is the science of nutrigenomics. It’s the combination of nutrition and genomics and helps you choose the foods and nutrients you need more of, based on your unique genetic blueprint.


What is nutrigenomics?

The cutting-edge science of Nutrigenomics examines the connection between nutrition and genetics (the DNA encoded in your genes that influences your body). It examines how the nutrients you require are influenced by the particular set of genes you inherited. Nutrigenomics is a precise method of tailoring nutritional recommendations to a person by assessing their unique set of genes.


Your genetic code is made up of genes passed down from your parents (half from each). This is how your genes work. Siblings (excluding identical twins) from the same parents are genetically unique, but there are some similarities between them. You may have different hair or eye colors, or be of a different height, because of your genes. All of these differences are due to your genes.


Each gene codes for one specific protein. That is why you have thousands of genes—because your body requires thousands of proteins to perform all of its cellular and molecular functions to keep you alive and healthy. Because of this, there are several variations for each gene. For example, your genes might predispose you to have higher (or less) cholesterol levels or a greater (or smaller) ability to lose weight. You might have a lower (or higher) degree of folate absorption, but may be very sensitive to caffeine or high levels of sodium. You might be very unlikely (or likely) to develop celiac disease.


How would you know? By having an accurate genetic test done to look for variations in all of those (and more) genes.


But wait, there’s more. Your genes code for so many areas of health, like metabolism, inflammation, hormones, stress response, moods, detoxification, weight, fitness, cognition, and your ability to use essential nutrients from foods and supplements.


Imagine how you could tailor your food and lifestyle choices, if you knew the areas that you as a unique individual should focus on, and which areas you need not worry too much about.


How can nutrigenomics help improve my health?

Let’s go through these examples so you can see what you can do when you learn your unique gene profile and take advantage of precision nutrition.


Susceptible to high levels of cholesterol

High levels of cholesterol can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. This is partly the result of how your genes allow your body to process fats. If you knew you had genetic variants that made you prone to high levels of cholesterol, you could focus your foods on choosing more plant-based meals, heart-healthy fats, and higher-fiber foods.


Resistance to losing weight

Imagine knowing whether your genes influence your weight loss. You may be more tolerant of your weight loss goals and incorporate some cognitive behavioral therapy or mindfulness to help you if this were the case.


Ability to use folate (vitamin B9)

Folate is found in green leafy vegetables and beans. Supplementation is often recommended for people who are or can become pregnant. Your genes may code for a lower ability to use folate. If this is the case, then you may need to eat more folate-rich foods or take a supplement to ensure you get enough folate to compensate for your lower ability to use this essential vitamin.


Sensitivity to caffeine

Some people are able to metabolize (process and eliminate) caffeine faster than others. If you know that you can metabolize caffeine at a fast rate, you may be able to enjoy caffeine without having to worry too much about some of the common side effects. If you are a slow metabolizer of caffeine, you may need to limit your intake and the timing to avoid anxiety, jitters, and insomnia.


Sensitivity to high levels of sodium

Salt contains sodium, and too much sodium may increase blood pressure. However, some people are more sensitive to sodium than others.


Likelihood to develop celiac disease

If you are unlikely to develop celiac disease, and if you don’t have digestive symptoms -

you don’t have to avoid eating gluten (a protein commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley).


And remember, these are just a few examples of how the variations in your genetic blueprint can impact your health and wellness. You can proactively address these variations to reach your health goals.


Nutrigenomic testing is accessible now.


The Bottom line on taking control of your health

Science is quickly unraveling the mysteries of the human genome. This is a great opportunity for you to reach your optimal health with a strategy developed based on your genes. There is a genetic test that looks at dozens of health-related genes to identify the areas you will be naturally healthier in, and which areas may need some extra attention. Unique to you.


If you’re interested in learning more about nutrigenomics and being smart about where to make targeted nutrition and lifestyle changes that will work for you, consult a credentialed dietitian or nutritionist who can help you get your test done, go through the results with you, and work with you to create a strategic plan so you can reach your personal health goals. I recently became a 3x4 Blueprint certified healthcare practitioner and would love to help you figure out what’s going on with your body and help you be the healthiest version of you that only you can be.


[Wondering why some of your health efforts are so hard, while others seem easier? Want to know which foods, nutrients, or lifestyle choices will make the most difference in your life? Need a personalized nutrition plan based on your genes so that you can be confident it will be worth the effort? Book an initial consultation appointment with me today to see how you can reach your goals.





References

3x4 Genetics. (n.d.). Sample report: The personal genetic story of Jean Poole. https://www.3x4genetics.com/patient-faq/#

The Nutrition Society. (2018, November 19). Nutrigenomics: The basics. https://www.nutritionsociety.org/blog/nutrigenomics-basics


Sommer, Connie. (2019, June 13). Food as medicine? Scientists are getting closer through nutrigenomics. University of Southern California News. https://news.usc.edu/157675/food-as-medicine-nutrigenomics/


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