Eating for your genes

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From low-fat to low-carb and from ketogenic to paleolithic, there was no shortage of experimental diets in recent decades. Nutrition experts leveraged food science and human biology to develop healthier eating behaviours. 

Almost inevitably, successful programmes adopted by millions of people are quickly demoted to the status of fads when they no longer reflect contemporary lifestyles, or when longitudinal studies and new science challenge their original claims. 

But the diet movement has popularised the link between food and body types, foregrounding the trend towards personalised nutrition. British physician was busy exploring the overlaps between diet and genetics as far back as the early 1900s, but the Human Genome Project completed almost a century later, provided the foundations for the disciplines of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics. 

Nutrigenetics studies how different people process different nutrients based on variations in their genetic make-up. This emerging field promises to help individuals identify the foods that allow their metabolism to perform at optimal levels. 

The combinations of nutrients pose a direct influence on gene expression, creating a whole new sphere of study in nutrigenomics. Eating disorders are on the rise while unhealthy consumption of alcohol, caffeine, fast-foods, and other high-risk habits are exposing more people to illnesses. Now, breakthroughs in research are opening a new paradigm for nutrition, leading to gene-type diets that help to prevent and reduce a spectrum of diseases. 

By aligning food intake with a person’s genetic profile, personalised nutrition seeks to create unique eating protocols that facilitate physical and mental wellbeing of every individual.

Varying food tastes may, in fact, be attributed to specific genetic compositions as culinary diversity between cultures shows. Understanding the correlation between genes and personal nutrition takes these nuances to a deeper level still and pave the way for the development of new food products. 

Nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics are still young sciences, but their importance to nutrition counselling is growing. Personal nutrition covers an extent of factors that include an individual’s lifestyle, health history, and life goals, and gene profiles add a bio-chemical dimension to particular requirements. 

The ancient adage wisely points out that we are what we eat, but in the future it is more likely that we eat what we are.

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