top of page
Search

Nutrigenomics


In recent years, the field of nutrigenomics has emerged as a promising avenue for understanding how our individual genetic makeup interacts with nutrition, influencing our health and well-being (Ferguson & Schlothauer, 2019). Naturopathic medicine, which emphasises the body's innate ability to heal itself and seeks to address the root causes of illness, is ideally suited to integrate the principles of nutrigenomics into clinical practice (Ladas et al., 2017). Naturopathic practitioners can there for offer personalised nutrition plans tailored to each individual's unique genetic profile, promoting optimal health and vitality (Stewart et al., 2018).


Nutrigenomics is the study of how nutrients and other dietary compounds interact with our genes, affecting gene expression, metabolism, and ultimately, our health outcomes (Ferguson & Schlothauer, 2019). It explores how variations in our genetic code, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), can influence our response to different nutrients and dietary patterns (Corella & Ordovas, 2019). By identifying these genetic variations, practitioners can gain insights into an individual's predisposition to certain health conditions and tailor nutritional interventions accordingly (Afman & Müller, 2012).




Key Concepts in Nutrigenomics


1. Genetic Variations: Our genetic makeup plays a significant role in determining our nutritional requirements and how our bodies metabolise different nutrients. Variations in genes encoding enzymes involved in nutrient metabolism, such as those related to folate metabolism or detoxification pathways, can impact individual responses to dietary components (Fenech, 2012).

2. Gene Expression: Nutrients and dietary compounds can influence gene expression, either upregulating or downregulating certain genes. For example, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to modulate the expression of genes involved in inflammation and lipid metabolism, highlighting the potential of dietary interventions to influence gene activity and cellular function (Calder, 2015).

3. Nutrient-Gene Interactions: Certain nutrients can interact with specific genes to either enhance or mitigate their effects on health. For instance, individuals carrying a variant of the MTHFR gene may have impaired folate metabolism, necessitating higher intakes of folate or supplementation with methylated forms of folate to support optimal methylation pathways (Goyette et al., 1994).

4. Personalised Nutrition: By integrating genetic information with dietary and lifestyle factors, practitioners can develop personalised nutrition plans tailored to each individual's unique genetic profile. These plans aim to optimise nutrient intake, mitigate genetic predispositions to certain health conditions, and promote overall well-being (Stewart et al., 2018).


Integrating Nutrigenomics into Naturopathic practice involves several key steps, from genetic testing and interpretation to the development of personalised nutrition plans.


1. Genetic Testing: The first step in utilising nutrigenomics in clinical practice is genetic testing to identify relevant genetic variations. This may involve targeted testing for specific SNPs related to nutrient metabolism, detoxification pathways, or other areas of interest (Corella & Ordovas, 2019).

2. Interpretation of Genetic Data: Once genetic data is obtained, it must be interpreted in the context of each individual's health history, dietary habits, and lifestyle factors. Naturopathic practitioners are trained to understand the complex interplay between genetics and environmental influences, allowing for a nuanced interpretation of genetic test results (Afman & Müller, 2012).

3. Development of Personalised Nutrition Plans: Based on the analysis of genetic and lifestyle factors, practitioners can develop personalised nutrition plans tailored to each individual's unique needs and goals. These plans may include specific dietary recommendations, nutrient supplementation, and lifestyle modifications aimed at optimizing health outcomes (Stewart et al., 2018).

4. Monitoring and Adjustment: Nutrigenomic interventions are dynamic and may require ongoing monitoring and adjustment based on individual responses and changing health needs. Naturopathic practitioners work collaboratively with their patients to track progress, make adjustments as needed, and empower patients to take an active role in their health journey (Booth et al., 2019).


Nutrigenomics offers a powerful framework for understanding how our genetic makeup influences our nutritional needs and health outcomes. When integrated into naturopathic practice, nutrigenomics enables practitioners to develop personalised nutrition plans tailored to each individual's unique genetic profile, promoting optimal health and vitality. By harnessing the insights of nutrigenomics, naturopathic practitioners can empower their patients to take an active role in their health journey and achieve lasting wellness.


References:

- Afman, L. A., & Müller, M. (2012). Nutrigenomics: from molecular nutrition to prevention of disease. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 112(3), 297-307.

- Booth, A., Hanratty, B., & Huxley, P. (2019). Nurturing the science inside: Nutrigenomic care in naturopathic medical education. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal, 18(2), 46.

- Bradshaw, C., & Miller, S. C. (2016). Naturopathic medicine and nutrigenomics: A review of human gene-nutrient interactions and their potential impact on health. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal, 15(3), 50.

- Calder, P. C. (2015). Marine omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: Effects, mechanisms and clinical relevance. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids, 1851(4), 469-484.

- Corella, D., & Ordovas, J. M. (2019). Nutrigenomics in cardiovascular medicine. Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, 12(4), e000099.

- Ferguson, L. R., & Schlothauer, R. C. (2019). The potential role of nutritional genomics tools in validating high health foods for cancer control: broccoli as example. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 63(6), 1800789.

- Fenech, M. (2012). Nutriomes and personalised nutrition for DNA damage prevention, telomere integrity maintenance and cancer growth control. Cancer Treatment and Research, 159, 427-441.

- Goyette, P., Sumner, J. S., Milos, R., Duncan, A. M. V., Rosenblatt, D. S., Matthews, R. G., ... & Rozen, R. (1994). Human methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase: isolation of cDNA, mapping and mutation identification. Nature Genetics, 7(2), 195-200.

- Ladas, E. J., Sattari, M., Novack, L., & Kelly, K. M. (2017). Nutrigenomic interventions in cancer: Effects on gene expression. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 107(2), 263-270.

- Pizzorno, J. E., & Murray, M. T. (2012). Textbook of natural medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences.

- Stewart, C. R., Stuart, S. S., & Wilkinson, J. E. (2018). Nutrigenomics and personalized diet: An opportunity to understand nutritional requirements. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 12(5), 405-410.


Environmental toxicity poses a significant challenge to nutrigenomics, particularly from a naturopathic standpoint. The intricate interplay between environmental pollutants and genetic predispositions underscores the need for tailored nutritional interventions. Studies have shown that exposure to toxins like heavy metals, pesticides, and endocrine disruptors can influence gene expression patterns, impacting metabolic pathways involved in detoxification, inflammation, and oxidative stress response (Pizzino et al., 2017). This disruption can exacerbate susceptibility to chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disorders, and metabolic syndromes.


Naturopathic practitioners advocate for personalised dietary strategies enriched with phytonutrients, antioxidants, and micronutrients to mitigate the effects of environmental toxicity on gene expression. For instance, compounds like sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables exhibit potent detoxifying properties by upregulating phase II detoxification enzymes (Kensler et al., 2017). Additionally, supplementation with glutathione precursors such as N-acetylcysteine can enhance cellular antioxidant defenses, counteracting oxidative damage induced by environmental toxins (Rushworth et al., 2014).


References:

1. Pizzino G, et al. (2017). Oxidative stress: Harms and benefits for human health. doi: 10.1155/2017/8416763

2. Kensler TW, et al. (2017). Keap1-Nrf2 signaling: A target for cancer prevention by sulforaphane. doi: 10.1186/s12964-017-0172-9

3. Rushworth GF, et al. (2014). Glutathione-mediated regulation of chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in cancer cells. doi: 10.1002/jcb.24732

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page