Nutrigenomics – The Future of Personalized Diets

acupuncture-

Thirty-five years ago the word  ‘jeans’ had a much different lay person meaning than its homograph counterpart, ‘genes’ of today.  (Remember the “Designer Jeans” of the 70’s?  Bonjour Action!  Every time my 1-year-old leaves the phone off the hook and I hear that ‘fast busy’ I think of those odd commercials.)

The pace of technology is terrifying to me as I feel it has gotten so out of control. What will the Singularity world look like in our near future?  I feel much of today’s ‘convenience’ technology is not one that is improving our lives, but rather it allows us to do more, therefore we need to keep up with everyone else doing more.   Does speeding our world up allowing us to try to outpace others improve our daily life?  I argue not.   It is a race we can never win. It brings a lot of stressed out people in my office.   The human race probably has a larger percentage of stressed out anxiety ridden beings than ever before in its history.  Each progressive year will probably top the previous year’s statistics.  I want to go back to the 1970s.  But I digress as I want to talk about the other “genes” homophone…

One very exciting and useful use of technology over the past 10 years has been the mapping of the human genome. (Which just had its 10 year anniversary).  A plethora of new medical treatments are being created and advances in medicine are accelerating because of technological acceleration allowing us to better understand genetics.  In the world of nutrition the concept of  Nutrigenomics  examines the association of exogenous nutrients and molecular responses based on an individuals genes.

A study that was just released suggests that one day our genes will help us design our own personalized diet.  This personalized diet may help us live longer as a designer gene diet will have less inflammation.  One of the quickest ways we age is by because of undesirable inflammation, therefore a diet that reduces our inflammatory load can help us live longer.   (It is debatable that a current population of 6M people living longer is a good thing).

There is little doubt that one day diets based on your personalized genome will be the norm.  But we need to remember that we are just a host for trillions of bugs so our microbiota (our own individual flora) can influence gene expression and be influenced by our given genes.    I see the future of nutrition changing dramatically in the next decade because of technological advancement as we will be able to decode particular genes to certain nutritional needs and weaknesses.   There are already many companies in the race to create Nutrigenomics products which I have begun to incorporate into my practice.  However we are not ‘there’ yet as there are still too many holes in the Nutrigenomics puzzle to make it clinically useful except in certain metabolic diseases.

So as our world rapidly changes because of technology, know that nutritional counseling will one day be very much about customizing your personal diet based on your genome and microbiota.   I do not think it is that far off.  Exciting and frightening because of the unknown.

George Mandler
Licensed Acupuncturist & Licensed Nutritionist / Dietitian

References

1.

Pang S1, Curran SP2. Adaptive Capacity to Bacterial Diet Modulates Aging in C. elegans. Cell Metab. 2014 Jan 14. PMID: 24440036. [PubMed] [Read by QxMD]

2.

García-Cañas V, Simó C, León C, Cifuentes A. Advances in Nutrigenomics research: novel and future analytical approaches to investigate the biological activity of natural compounds and food functions. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2010 Jan 20;51(2):290-304. PMID: 19467817. [PubMed] [Read by QxMD]

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