Nutrigenetics: You Are What You Eat (Really!)

Nutri-what? The term might be unfamiliar to you right now. Nevertheless, nutrigenetics is the next big thing for improving our health and wellbeing.

That you’re reading this article means you’re probably someone who cares about your health.

But perhaps you’ve become increasingly jaded at the usual (and often contradictory) food rules that make their way into most dietary guidelines.

If that resonates, this cutting-edge, individualized approach to nutrition will be a breath of fresh air.

This guide will explain what the term nutrigenetics means and how you can use this modern approach to transform the way you eat.

What Is Nutrigenetics?

Until now, the general school of thought in nutrition is that all bodies are equal, and there are good and bad foods. What causes obesity in one person will cause obesity in everyone.

But plenty of country-specific studies has put this theory to work.

Is the high fat, olive-oil drizzled food of the Mediterranean the answer to a long and healthy life? Or is the carb-heavy rice diet of southeast Asia the right way to go?

Those apparent contradictions in the evidence have led scientists to examine nutrition from another angle. Perhaps we’ve been wrong to label some foods as nutritionally superior to others. Maybe the answer lies in our genetics.

That is where nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics come into the conversation.

Our DNA has adapted over thousands of years to different environments. That allows our bodies to get the most of what was abundant in our immediate surroundings. The standard science term for this adaptation is nutritope.

Our DNA has adapted over thousands of years to different environments, allowing our bodies to get the most of what was abundant in our immediate surroundings. The standard science term for this adaptation is nutritope.

Generations living on islands surrounded by fresh fish might have bodies well adapted to that type of diet. That might be red meat, rice, or vegetables for other communities.

This concept seems intuitive when you consider the evidence around you. We all know that slim person who eats what they want, while we watch the scales nervously after adding an extra tablespoon of dressing to our salad.

When traditional communities switch to a modern Western diet, obesity rates often soar.

Nutrigenetics and the Personalized Diet

Understanding the logic of genetic-dependent nutrition is one thing, but what does that mean for our diets? What should we include if we want a nutritionally-sound meal plan?

Nutrigenetics research has led to the development of a personalized diet. This approach involves reviewing a person’s genetic markers to determine the type of food they should eat.

The science behind this is still in the early stages. That means nutritionists construct the most personalized diets by analyzing a small set of a person’s genes.

Nevertheless, it still provides people with helpful insight into what foods work best for their body type.

As well as showing you specific food types to eat for optimum health, you’ll also find out whether you have particular intolerances, such as lactose.

What Are the Benefits of Nutrigenetics?

The most apparent benefit of a move to nutrigenetics is in the fight against obesity.

If you examine obesity rates for the past 50 years, you’ll see an upward trend. In 1970, only 15% of people in the US were considered obese (according to BMI). In 2016, that number jumped to 40%.

By pinpointing the food that will cause you to gain weight rapidly, we can tailor our diets to bring our weight back into a healthy range.

That also gets us away from the calorie-in, calorie-out method, which many people find unrealistic to follow long-term.

There are significant knock-on benefits from reducing obesity levels. Scientists have linked obesity to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. There is also a growing link between obesity and cancer.

Understanding the optimum diet for our bodies might be one of the best strategies we have to protect against severe diseases and premature death.

There is also the more immediate-term benefit of figuring out whether you are allergic or intolerant to a particular food group.

Some of us have mild intolerances to foods such as gluten and lactose. But a significant percentage of those people aren’t aware of these underlying problems.

After genetic testing, removing these foods from your diet can reduce painful abdominal pain and bloat symptoms.

Nutrigenetics can also free you from the rigidity of traditional diet advice, which is often limiting what you consume.

You might find that nutrigenetics opens you up to eating foods you have previously banned from your diet, wrongly assuming they are damaging or fattening.

That can be a freeing change for people locked into years of yo-yo dieting with ever-more restrictive diets that simply don’t work or get satisfactory results.

Does That Mean Past Food Advice Was Wrong?

A move to nutrigenetics doesn’t mean we have to through everything we know about nutrition out the window.

Nutrigenetics can guide us to foods that we metabolize better than others. However, it doesn’t take away from what we already know about nutrition.

For example, there is a broad consensus in the scientific community that sugar, alcohol, and junk food are essentially bad for our bodies. A difference in how we metabolize these foods won’t magically transform their nutritional content.

Nutrigenetics might move us away from the traditional calorie-counting methods. But it doesn’t excuse us from portion control.

Overeating healthy food might not be as detrimental as binge eating junk food. But eating more than your body needs is still counterproductive if you want to maintain a healthy BMI.

Are You Ready to Adapt to the Nutrigenetics Diet?

You’ve probably felt tempted to ditch diet advice in the past when it hasn’t brought you the results you wanted.

And now science might be catching up with your instinct. It is time to think of your diet in harmony with your adapted body by embracing nutrigenetics.

Continue your journey to a healthier lifestyle right now by heading over to our health section.

By Malik