Consider this scenario: two men of the same age, weight, and height, with similar lifestyles, both eat an unhealthy diet high in sodium and processed foods, and low in fruit, vegetables and other plant-based foods. One of them develops high blood pressure, high blood sugars, and high LDL cholesterol – leading to various health issues, while the other does not. What causes this vast difference in health outcomes? That is what an area of research, called nutrigenetics, is trying to determine. Nutrigenetics is the study of the relationship between genes, diet, and health outcomes.
Population-based research has always been the gold standard for developing dietary recommendations; however, there are always outliers that don’t respond in the same way as the majority of people. These individuals are thought to have genetic variants which, when expressed, can affect their nutritional status and how they respond to dietary changes. For example, a person’s genetic makeup can impact their nutrient requirements, metabolism, appetite, taste, and their risk of developing chronic disease in relation to their diet.
Scientists believe there are potentially thousands of genetic variation that have dietary implications. Current areas where nutrigenetic research has been applied include how genetic variances influences: individual requirements for vitamin C, calcium, iron and vitamin B12; the role of saturated fats on the risk of obesity; the impact of caffeine on cardiovascular health; the role of whole grains in preventing type 2 diabetes; and the impact of sodium on blood pressure. Because everyone’s genetic makeup is unique, a nutrigenetics test (comprising a simple cheek swab test) can help you make informed lifestyle choices and identify the dietary changes that will have the biggest influence on your health. When considering a nutrigenetics test, look for a trained nutrigenetics counsellor who is a Registered Dietitian, as they can thoroughly explain the implications of your test results and help you build an individualized nutrition plan.
It is important to note that not all genes are always expressed. Researchers are still trying to figure out what determines whether or not a given gene becomes expressed. When it comes to nutrigenetics, Registered Dietitians use a variety of tools to help paint the full picture, such as inquiring about an individual’s personal and family medical history, symptoms, and following a patient’s lab work. This, combined with nutrigenetics testing, is how individualized nutrition care plans can be made with more precision, which makes clients more successful at achieving their health goals and preventing chronic disease.
NUTRIGENETICS AT MEDISYS
With a focus on innovation and excellence, Medisys is ready to embrace the precision health movement by enhancing preventive care with genetic testing offerings. Medisys is pleased to now offer Nutrigenomix®, a comprehensive test that matches what you eat to your unique genetic profile. Developed by world-renowned researchers at the University of Toronto, the test evaluates 45 genetic markers and how those specific genetic markers change your response to foods, beverages and nutrients consumed to impact weight management & body composition, nutrient metabolism, heart health, food intolerances, and eating habits.
Nutrigenomix®, is available to clients in Toronto, with plans for expansion to other provinces in the coming months.