What Can Your Genes Tell You About Your Nutritional Needs?
Nutrigenomics considers a person’s genetics in personalizing their nutrition recommendations and assessing their risk for chronic disease. This scientific approach involves analyzing a person’s genes to determine what dietary changes they should make to improve health and prevent or treat disease.
Taylor Engelke, MS, RDN, CD, utilizes this innovative method as part of her private practice, Nutrimental Healthcare, and generously contributed some of her thoughts and perspective to this article.
According to Taylor, the nutrigenomics has been used to study a wide variety of disease states, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and food sensitivities and intolerances, among others. Taylor offered a great example for a specific test that can be used in nutrigenomics:
“A common example is the MTHFR enzyme: this enzyme converts available folic acid in the body to a form that can be used for other very important processes involved in turning on or off certain genes that can prevent or encourage cancer growth, affect sleep patterns, mood and mental health, as well as relating to an increased risk of heart disease. By knowing that someone has a mutation in the gene that codes for this enzyme, we can compensate for it nutritionally by making sure that that person is getting enough folate in their diet to prevent these issues.”
Genetics and Nutrition
The overall goal of testing for the MTHFR enzyme and other indicators of our nutrient and biochemistry is identify deficiencies in the body and address these deficiencies nutritionally through making changes to food intake, cooking methods, and other habits to positively mitigate these genetic factors.
The way most of the services available for nutrigenetic testing analyze your genes is through saliva. Taylor uses a company called Nutrigenomix, based in Toronto, Canada.
Other vendors are available as well, such as 23andMe and Avant Life. If you choose to have nutrigenetic testing done, Taylor advises looking for a company that has a scientific and medical advisory board. While all of these companies can provide good results, most do not offer counseling with a registered dietitian to help you translate your results into action.
Taylor utilizes the testing services from Nutrigenomix to advise her clients and provide customized nutrition recommendations. If you are interested in learning more about nutrigenetics and Nutrimental Healthcare, please view the links below!