We all know that our health has a direct correlation with our diet. As the old adage goes, you are what you eat. But how come some people can eat certain foods and feel great, while others eat the same foods and feel like a sack of shi potatoes? While we know that the foods we eat and our ability to digest and absorb them gives us certain nutrients that are vital for life, according to a new field of research called Nutritional Genomics, or Nutrigenomics, the food that we eat actually has a direct effect on DNA structure and gene expression as well.
It has become increasingly clear that our genes are not a static entity. They are molded by our environment, and by the food that we eat. They are also molded by our thoughts, but we’ll save that for another post ;)
Most of you readers probably don’t follow the Canada food guide pyramid (hands up if you’re gluten free! Woot woot!), and we know these generalized approaches to diet and health do not always get the job done. The discovery of individual nutrient-gene interactions make this general approach even less plausible.
As seen in this diagram, nutrients from your diet can affect gene expression both directly (A) and indirectly (B and C).
Nutrient-gene interactions work both ways: you may have different nutrient requirements based on your unique genetic profile, and you may respond differently to certain nutrients and chemicals in foods based on your genes.
While still in its infancy, the goal of nutrigenomics research is to determine which chronic diseases (i.e. cancer) can be prevented or treated with diet (i.e. more vegetables), on an individual basis. It is already possible to have your genome sequenced, however there is still little information that can be extrapolated from this regarding specific dietary requirements. As technology continues to expand at exponential rates there is no doubt that it will be quick and easy to sequence your genome, and hopefully one day this information will be used to screen for potential disease risk factors that can be prevented through a specific diet plan.
What excites me the most about nutrigenomics and the future of individualized dietary recommendations and healthcare?? It’s that naturopathic medicine already offers individualized dietary recommendations and healthcare. So while it may not be too long before you can sequence your genome on the cheap (my guess is by year 2029), in the meantime it is important to practice some mindfulness in your dietary choices. Try to be aware of how different foods affect YOU. Does wheat make you sluggish? Do you get gas from eating certain veggies? Do you feel like a million bucks after your awesome friend makes you homemade big macs??? Keep this in mind when choosing the foods you eat, and until a genetic test can tell you your ideal diet, eat whatever makes you feel great.
Until next time,