Is Nutrigenomics the Pathway to Personalized Nutrition?

Person blurring into dna (from Dr. Bonnie 360)

Obesity was recently classified as a disease by the American Medical Association. Ranking 5th in global obesity, over 30% of the US adult population is considered obese.  Everyone knows the traditional pyramid of nutrition, but new studies show that an individual’s genome may play a role in body type and individual nutritional needs.

 

What is Nutritional Genomics

Nutritional genomics is a field at the intersection of nutrition and genomics, examining the impact nutrition has on genes, and the impact that genes have on nutrition.  Not only can different nutrients in different foods have an impact on gene expression, but also your body’s response to certain foods depends on your genotype.  Nutritional genomics focuses on the specific nutrition an individual needs based on their genome.

 

Personalizing Nutrition: How it Works

Nutrition is following the personalization trend in healthcare.  By recognizing individuals’ necessary levels for nutrition, dieticians can customize their recommendations to what an individual needs.

Dietician Christine Marquette explains,

“(Already) some of the early research has identified different types of genes that respond differently to fats.  For example, if a person has genotype A, they may be able to tolerate a slightly higher level of saturated fat without it having a negative impact on their LDL (bad) cholesterol.  Whereas a person with genotype B may need a much lower level of saturated fat in their diet, because if they eat more than that amount, it significantly increases their LDL cholesterol.”

 

Personalized Dietary Recommendations

Nutritional Genomics may have the potential to change a dietician’s approach to nutrition -by providing the basis for personalized dietary recommendations.

For decades, researchers have been studying this approach for monogenic diseases. Many of the monogenic diseases that have personalized dietary recommendations are rare, like Phenylketonuria, which is treated with a Phe-restricted diet, which involves limited protein intake.

The current challenge is to broaden the studies to multifactorial diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer.  To date, there have been limited number of studies in multifactorial disease but results hold promise for the future.

Do you think that Big Data, will speed the discovery process in nutritional genomics for multifactoral diseases? Let me know what you think.


First posted on Dr. Bonnie 360 on 6/25/2012

Bonnie Feldman DDS, MBA
As principal of DrBonnie360, Bonnie Feldman, DDS, MBA brings a unique triple lens to her consulting, speaking, and writing. She combines her expertise as an entrepreneurial dentist, a Wall Street analyst, and a digital health consultant to always ask the questions of how new digital tools and data can help each of us. She interviewed more than 200 digital health companies and attended over 60 meetings. DrBonnie360 is an invited speaker for SXSW, Stanford Medicine X, Bio-IT, Data to Drugs to Diagnostics, StrataRx, Games for Health, the Center for Connected Health, the NY eCollaborative Digital Health Summit, the mHealth Summit, and Ideas LA. Her work is featured in Medium, O’Reilly Strata, Greatist, Forbes and The Doctor Weighs In. DrBonnie360’s recent multimedia work spotlights, “The Invisible Epidemic of Autoimmune Disease,” “The Lonely Voices of Autoimmune Disease,” and “Bridging the Autoimmune Abyss Through New Discoveries.” Using company interviews, extensive scientific literature reviews, and an analysis of the conventional and integrative care landscape, DrBonnie360 uncovers a large and growing need in the autoimmune community. She is working with forward-thinking companies to apply new data and digital tools to reshape research, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of autoimmune disease. She welcomes collaborative partners in this initiative.

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