‘Optimal Health & Wellbeing – Unlock Your Potential’ by Trudy Cadoo published in Great Health Guide (Aug 2015). Nutritional genomics or nutrigenomics is the science which studies the relationship between human health genome, nutrition & health. Research has shown that the human genome can be positively affected by our diet.
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NUTRITION: Optimal Health & Wellbeing
written by Trudy Cadoo
In 2010, preventable conditions accounted for approximately 20 percent of Australia’s healthcare expenditure (around $24.3 billion). There is a lot to be said for preventative health care and we are in exciting times with current health research and developments suggesting we have the potential to improve our health and reduce the unnecessary burden these lifestyle diseases have on our health system.
We live in a time of testing and measuring our health and most people are aware of some of the measurements which are used. We take measurements such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, nutritional levels and weight. As a health professional I continue to hear people make comments such as, ‘I will always be heavier – it’s just in my DNA’ or ‘I was always destined to have high cholesterol’. Now we can take a closer look through personalised genetic testing to gain a better understanding of our health. This program of genetic testing is known as nutrigenomics, an exciting new field of study which relates to how different foods can interact with particular genes to modify a person’s health status or the risk of diseases.
Research has shown that genetic variants have a significant impact on the body’s metabolic pathways and affect such functions as the absorption and metabolism of nutrients, detoxifying mechanisms, the tendency toward some modern day diseases and provides the basis for personalized dietary recommendations, based on an individual’s genetic makeup. While this field of science known as nutrigenomics is a screening tool for identifying specific genetic variations that may affect certain aspects of an individual’s nutrition, it does not provide a comprehensive assessment of a person’s nutritional needs. The usefulness of nutrigenomic testing depends on whether the effects of the genetic profile possessed by the individual can be modified or reversed through diet or lifestyle changes.
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1. Inflammation: Inflammation is a natural body defence mechanism and an important part of the normal immune response, it protects you from infections and helps with tissue repair after an injury. Your health and well-being is critically dependent on this inflammatory response being well regulated and operating correctly.
2. Cell Defence: Oxidative stress leads to ageing and underlies all disease processes, including cardiovascular disease, dementia and diabetes and plays a role in the development of cancer.
3. Cardiovascular Health: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death in Australia. Essentially the cardiovascular system delivers oxygen and nutrients to every cell in the body and removes carbon dioxide and waste products. Elevated blood levels of amino acid homocysteine, is a marker for CVD. Homocysteine is produced from methionine (an essential amino acid) found in fish, meat and dairy. Next, the body converts homocysteine to cysteine, which requires folate, Vitamin B6 and B12 to be present in certain amounts. However, if the body fails to convert homocysteine to cysteine, high levels of homocysteine will build up in the blood stream causing oxidative stress, inflammation, increasing the risk of blood clotting and atherosclerosis (the leading cause of heart attacks, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease). Some people inherit the inability to clear homocysteine and it builds up and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
4. Fat Metabolism and Cholesterol Regulation: Maintaining a healthy weight is vital for your health. Obesity increases your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, certain cancers and joints problems. It also leads to increased inflammation and oxidative stress. Your genes also have a major role in weight maintenance. Weight maintenance and weight loss is not simply about calories in and calorie expenditure. Some people are genetically more prone to having excess weight. Your genes influence how much total fat, saturated fat and carbohydrates you can tolerate in your diet. Your genes influence how much fat you absorb from food, how much body fat you can make, how effectively you can burn body fat, the best type of exercise for you to burn body fat and how prone you are to rebound weight gain. You have genes that influence appetite control and satiety by the production of the hormone leptin. Some people are genetically prone to overeating, more inclined to want high fat, high carbohydrate food and feeling like they have not had enough to eat, not feeling satisfied or full.
5. Vitamin D: Metabolism Research is clearly demonstrating the importance of Vitamin D on our health. Vitamin D deficiency affects almost 50% of the world’s population. Factors contributing to this major health problem include lifestyle factors, such as reduced outdoor activities and obesity, environmental factors, such as living in northern altitudes and air pollution, poor dietary choices and genetic factors. Some studies suggest that almost 10% of the human genome may be at least partially regulated by Vitamin D. Vitamin D is found in nearly every cell in the body and exerts its effect on target tissue such as bone, immune, skin, nervous, endothelial, hair follicle, etc., via the Vitamin D receptor.
Even though a gene is listed in one group it can have a major influence in other groups as well. For example, the primary influence of the gene, Interleukin – 6 (IL-6) is in Group 1 for Inflammation and Recovery, however, it also has a major influence in other groups, such as Cardiovascular Health, Fat Metabolism and Bone Health. The major purpose of these groups is to help identify the focus area(s) for your nutritional, health and lifestyle interventions.
A customised treatment plan can assist you in addressing specific healthcare issues, including:
Fat Metabolism and Weight Management
Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
Cardiovascular Health & Cholesterol Regulation
Relief from joint pain
Hypertension – Blood pressure