How many times have you heard (or said yourself) “I’m prone to “_____” because my grandmother has it.” 100 times? 1000 times? Yeah, it’s been a crap ton for me too. That’s why I want to briefly discuss nutrigenomics.
First, let’s toss that saying out the window, because it’s not true. Yeah, you read that right. Just because you are genetically predisposed to diabetes, or obesity, or hypothyroidism DOESN’T mean you’ll deal with it.
The thing is, genes are the gun. It’s the lifestyle (food, environment, etc) that pulls the trigger. So, if you don’t pull the trigger, guess what? No disease.
What is nutrigenomics?
In a nutshell, nutrigenomics is the study of how food affects our genes. What alters our genetic expression, and how can we turn genes “on” and “off.” We all have genetic variants, and are identical to no one (think biology class). Because of this, we all respond to different diets. So, no more one-size-fits-all dietary guidelines (which are severely outdated).
Why is this important?
Well, for obvious reasons…who wouldn’t want to prevent disease? On top of that, I feel that this area of study really kicks out the diet fad. Don’t hate me, but I get sick of people hopping on the keto or paleo or vegan bandwagon just because their friend said it’s good. Unless you’ve done research on the diet and know how your body will respond…don’t do it.
By looking at your specific genes, you can learn which foods are best for you, and which foods should be avoided. Up until about 15 years ago, nutrigenomics was fairly unheard of. Thanks to the Human Genome Project, we learned that we all have a genetic blueprint and specific ‘triggers’ for turning on genes.
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How to eat for your genes
Even 15+ years in, nutrigenomics is in its infancy. Kinks are still being worked out with genetic testing, and most practitioners are unfamiliar with how to interpret them, much less what dietary components work best for each SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism).
While we wait for more research, I always advise at least starting with a ‘methylation friendly’ diet, meaning low inflammatory and high in nutrients to keep your genes happy. That includes:
- Eating lots of dark, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage
- Having berries regularly
- Avoiding highly processed and refined foods (i.e. foods from cans, bags or boxes)
- Always opting for the highest quality animal products and produce
- Ensuring that you ‘eat the rainbow’ daily in terms of vegetables
- Avoiding folic acid and any other synthetic vitamins
- Eating adequate fats (olive oil, avocado, etc)
If you’re still scratching your head and confused, don’t fret. A) you’re not alone. B) I’ve got you covered! You can download 5 days worth of healthy meals HERE, recipes included.