What Is Nutrigenomics
We know that diet can be a serious risk factor for a number of diseases. We also know that dietary nutrients, exercise and relaxation techniques, can act on the human genome, either directly or indirectly, to alter gene expression or structure. The amount of influences these activities have on an individual depends on their genetic makeup. Some diet-regulated genes (and their normal, common variants) may play a role in the onset, incidence, progression, and/or severity of chronic diseases. Dietary intervention based on knowledge of genotype nutritional requirement and nutritional status, can be used to prevent, alter or cure chronic disease. This is what is called nutrigenomics.
Nutrigenomics is an area of research that is on the cutting edge of medicine. It is based on the idea that we can change the way our genes express themselves with nutrition. This is not the same as changing the genes, it is simply the ability to change how they act. That however, is saying a lot. Additionally, although you may not be able to change the genes you were born with, you can effect the genes of your unborn baby by dietary choices, environmental choices, supplements etc.
It is known that our environment can change how our genes act. The environment can turn genes on or off. This can be studied by looking up "epigenetics" on the web. Chemicals and toxins in the environment, on our food, the food itself as well as supplements or herbs we take, relaxation techniques and many other things can change how our genes act. By studying Nutrigenomics, we are learning what to eat (or not eat) to promote healthy vs. unhealthy “genetic expression.” Labs compare the genomes of a large sample of individuals to determine which genetic “print-outs” represent “normal” vs. mutated variations. We can look at those variations in an individual person and get an idea of what environmental manipulations might benefit that individual. This could be exercise, dietary recommendations, herbal or nutritional supplements, or entire changes in lifestyle.
Often, when we look at these transformational pathways that have genetic variations, we find that an individual is make too much or too little of an important enzyme that controls biotransformational pathways. This can create a situation where the person has an overfunctioning or underfunctioning biochemical pathway. They may be missing key nutrients that their body simpy can't create or they may be drowning in some nutrient that is excessive for them. When their diet is tweaked to remove excess or additions are made in the diet via food or supplements proper function can be restored. Nutrigenomics is the art of altering genetic weakness through environmental manipulation including diet, supplementation and use of things such as relaxation techniques.
Genes & Us
To figure out which of our genes may have variations that could cause us a health issue, we need to partake of genetic testing. This testing examines the genetic bases that make up our DNA. We look at the order of these four bases called adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine. These bases are like a very short alphabet. How they are arranged is the language your body uses to build genes. There are "normal" sequences of these bases and variations of these sequences. The variations are the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that we look at to see how the SNP will effect a person.
Gene variations usually work in groups to create changes in enzymes (Enzymes are biological catalysts. They are responsible for the processes that sustain our bodies. Most enzymes are proteins. There are also some RNA molecules identified as having "enzymatic activity". An enzyme can speed up or slow down a process.)or enzyme activities. The SNPs can increase or decrease an activity.
If you want to learn more about genes, you will find basics on genes and gene testing on this page.
Some One Who Was In The Forefront With Nutrigenomics
We are endebted to many scientists and practitioners for what we currently know about nutrigenomics. I would like to mention one special practitioner by the name of Amy Yasko. She has a doctorate in molecular biology and immunology, and certifications in Alternative Medical and Holistic Health practices. She is a well-recognized expert in molecular biology in the field of DNA/RNA base diagnostics and therapeutics. She has been instrumental in supplying data in nutrigenomics that has helped many practitioners and their patients. If you want to read about her or her work or make an appointment with her, go to her website. You can also get more details on nutrigenomics from this UC Davis Site.
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