Nutrigenetic analysis genetic mystery

When it comes to diet and nutrition, scientists are increasingly aware of the limitations of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

School Of Nutrition Posted Mar 23, 2016 Future Fit Training


Nutrigenetic analysis genetic mystery

We now know that how our bodies process the food we eat varies significantly from one person to the next due to a range of factors. One such factor is our genes, which can influence our requirements for certain nutrients, our sensitivity to certain foods and even our susceptibility for gaining weight. Thanks to advances in biotechnology our genes no longer need to remain a mystery to us and more and more people are availing of genetic testing to determine their predispositions to health conditions. Nutrigenetic analysis is the branch of genetic analysis that deals specifically with how our bodies handle nutrients and can be used to create a personalised nutrition plan based on individual sensitivities and predispositions.

To find out more about nutrigenetic analysis and how it can help us Anne-Marie O’Shea, Head of the School of Nutrition, spoke to Boris Gorisek from GenePlanet, one of Europe’s leading providers of ‘direct to the consumer’ genetic testing.

Anne-Marie: Boris, can you explain in very simple terms what nutrigenetic analysis is?

Boris: A nutrigenetic analysis represents an individually tailored diet and lifestyle plan based on a genetic analysis. It is based on the fact that each individual possesses a specific genetic makeup (predisposition) and therefore each individual has specific nutritional needs. It reveals to a person which nutrients are most suitable due to his/her genetic predispositions by taking into account a holistic approach. For example the nutrigenetic analysis NutriFit from GenePlanet is the most comprehensive guide on the market that contains 35 analyses divided into 8 chapters that cover key thematic elements of diet and lifestyle.

Anne-Marie: What sort of information can nutrigenetic analysis give an individual?

Boris: Each person discovers the specific needs, dictated by their genetic predispositions, which enables them to establish an optimal diet and lifestyle and help them improve their health, wellbeing and quality of life. Individuals thereby discover and learn about:

  • Their needs for the most important micro- and macro- nutrients
  • Their metabolism as well as about their response to physical activity
  • Whether they have inherited high cholesterol, high blood sugar, weak bones, and/or are susceptible for being overweight
  • Their metabolism of alcohol, caffeine and lactose,
  • Whether they are prone to oxidative stress
  • Their muscles and find out which sport activities are the best for them

Anne-Marie: A person can’t change their genes so what is the benefit of having this information?

Boris: Our wellbeing is a result of our genetic predispositions and everyday lifestyle decisions (nutrition, physical activity). Since we can’t change our genes, we can positively influence our health and wellbeing if we tailor our nutrition and lifestyle accordingly to our genes. For example, the absorption of vitamin B9 (folate) can be decreased in some people for about 70% due to the presence of mutation in MTHFR gene. Those people are recommended to increase their intake of vitamin B9 for 50% or even more to fulfil their daily requirements and ensure optimal level of vitamin B9 in their body.

Anne-Marie: Isn’t what we eat on a daily basis far more important than our genotype when it comes to determining whether we will suffer from diet-related health conditions?

Boris: For sure, our nutrition and physical activity are the factors, which are the most important and at the same time the factors which can most easily be influenced. However, it’s our genes which tell us the optimal diet for someone. For example, if someone who is at genetic risk for high cholesterol follows the same diet as someone with low risk, he/she will face the elevation of cholesterol sooner or later. Another example is that lactose intolerant people have to adapt their nutrition due to their genotype which determines the lack of enzyme lactase (responsible to break down lactose).

Anne-Marie: Is there a risk that an individual might use nutrigenetic analysis as an excuse to have a less healthy lifestyle? For example if they discovered that they had a high tolerance to alcohol they might consider this permission to drink in excess.

Boris: The nutrigenetic analysis NutriFit only offers personalised guidelines for optimal wellbeing but the decision itself to follow them or not comes down to the individual. Based on our internal research, NutriFit analysis is also considered as a health awareness guide that influences our decision to change our behaviour and to pursue a healthier lifestyle. In any case, also the recommendations given for the ‘positive predispositions’ are not a ‘green card’ to do all the wrong things and we always stress the importance of still following proper advice and action despite having favourable predispositions.

Anne-Marie: Can you give me an outline of the process?

Boris: A client orders NutriFit genetic analysis and receives a DNA kit which contains a saliva collector with all the necessary instructions and documentation. A saliva sample is self-collected into the saliva collector and sent to our laboratory, where DNA is extracted and genotyping is performed. Usually it takes around three weeks (from the day we receive a sample) for the results to be delivered to the client.

Anne-Marie: How can nutrigenetic analysis be of use to our students?

Boris: Probably the main goal of any nutrition adviser or personal trainer is to develop as much personalised solution as possible, since valid general recommendations often don’t deliver optimal results. The nutrigenetic analysis doesn’t alter an expert’s day-to-day work and does not change his knowledge base but is providing unique information and insight in order to maximise nutrition/ training plans. You have probably met a client who, despite the expert’s best effort according to all professional standards, didn’t get the results he/she was hoping for. In a situation like that a nutrigenetic analysis can help provide you with additional information in order to achieve the desired goals (weight loss, muscle gain, higher level of energy). Our market research showed that nutrigenetic analysis also leads to higher consumption of health and wellness related products and services. So the mix of knowledge and nutrigenetic analysis information can also lead to a competitive advantage of a personal trainer or a nutrition adviser and improve the training or programme results.

Anne-Marie: Isn’t this type of analysis very expensive?

Boris: Nutrigenetic analysis involves high-tech equipment and specific knowledge which is related to some expense but considering that the analysis itself is a once in a lifetime test with everlasting results, you can conclude that the analysis is an investment worth taking. Nutrigenetic analysis results can be used repeatedly for customisation of diets and exercises in any period of your life.

Anne-Marie: Where do you think nutrigenetic analysis will be in 10 and 50 years’ time?

Boris: Together with the development of new molecular techniques and new scientific insights, even more comprehensive analyses will be available and nutrigenetics will be a more and more important part of our life.

Are you interested in trying it for yourself? Geneplanet is offering Future Fit students a 30% discount on the standard price of nutrigenetic analysis. Click here for more details.