Nutrigenomics is the integrative study of the interaction of nutrition and genes, especially about the prevention or treatment of disease. Nutrigenomics corresponds to the use of biochemistry, physiology, nutrition, genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, and epigenomics to seek and explain the existing interactions between genes and nutrients at a molecular level.
In other words, nutrigenomics is the future of the nutrition profession.
Some people also use the term “nutrigenetics” to describe nutrigenomics. Even though some people use these terms interchangeably, there’s a slight difference between the two terms.
Nutrigenetics describes how your body responds to nutrients based on your existing genetic makeup. While nutrigenomics is how nutrients influence your body’s expression of your genes.
Nutrigenomics helps you better understand how certain foods make your body work. While this is useful for better understanding your body for easier weight loss, the main idea behind it is preventing and treating chronic conditions and diseases that sabotage your quality of life.
This is a helpful paradigm shift in the world of nutrition — especially since metabolic diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and liver and kidney disease) caused by metabolic conditions (like obesity, higher blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels) are rising.
In fact, in a study from JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association), researchers found that metabolic syndrome has slightly increased from 32.5% to 36.9% in adults from 2011 until 2016.
But they also found that some groups of people were at a significantly higher risk for metabolic syndrome.
These groups included:
These symptoms also increase with age. Researchers found only about one in five young adults had metabolic syndrome. Whereas it can affect nearly 60% of adults.
There’s a connection between metabolic syndrome and obesity. And since we’re living in an obesity epidemic in the United States, there’s never been a better time to revolutionize nutrition with nutrigenomics.
That’s why I’m so excited and hopeful for the future. Nutrigenomics is exactly what the nutritionist ordered to help overcome the obesity epidemic, make nutrition more personalized, and help the world lose some much-needed weight before it’s too late.
Now that you have a better idea about what nutrigenomics is, let’s look at its history.
Another similar, yet different dieting style has also recently emerged called metabolic typing.
Metabolic typing is another important piece of your nutrition puzzle. And it’s actually one of my top 10 favorite health “hacks.”
Here’s why (and why it’s not as good as nutrigenomics):
Metabolic typing isn’t nearly as personalized and specific as nutrigenomics. However, it helps others easily identify which types of foods work best for their body.
There are two main factors that determine your metabolic type:
Let’s start with your nervous system.
Your nervous system has two main modes of operation: sympathetic and parasympathetic.
The sympathetic is an energy-burning aspect of your nervous system. You would probably know this as the “fight or flight” response.
In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system is energy-conserving, supporting rest and digestion.
One of these modes of your nervous system will be more dominant than the other.
As for cellular oxidation:
When you eat food, your cells start converting it into energy, which is a process called oxidation. People who are fast oxidizers need to eat heavier proteins and fats that burn slowly. Whereas slow oxidizers need to eat faster-digesting carbohydrates rather than protein and fat.
1. Protein type
Roughly 85% of the population fits into this type. Protein types are fast oxidizers or parasympathetic dominant. If you’re a protein type, you’re more likely to be hungry more frequently than other types. And your cravings include fatty, salty foods. Protein types usually don’t do well with low-calorie diets.
Protein types tend to have more fatigue, anxiety, and nervousness than the other types. If you’re a protein type, you’ll often feel lethargic or wired and on edge.
Protein types require a diet that is rich in oils and proteins such as organ meats, beef, dark-meat poultry, and seafood. Protein types also do well eating fats such as eggs, whole milk, cream, and whole-milk cheese.
Since protein types don’t mix well with sugar, starch, fruit, and alcohol it’s best to try to limit your carbohydrate intake. And instead focus on complex carbs (such as whole grains and dark leafy veggies) instead of simple carbs (such as sugary and starchy foods).
If you’re a protein type, you should aim for a macronutrient balance of 40% protein, 30% fats, and 30% carbs (with the focus on vegetables). This is one of the reasons keto has become so popular — protein types do well on keto and make up about 85% of the population. Also, evidence suggests that keto can reduce your fear and anxiety, which is a common trouble with protein types.
Now let’s chat about the second metabolic type: carb type.
2. Carb type
Carb types are slow oxidizers or sympathetic dominant. If you’re a carb type, you’re more likely to have a weaker appetite, a higher tolerance for sweets, and you could have problems with weight management. Carb types also tend to have a “type A” personality.
Carb types need a diet high in carbs and low in protein, fats, and oils. Carb types should get their protein from foods such as turkey, light meat chicken, and lighter fish such as haddock, perch, sole, and flounder.
Carb types can handle fruits much better than protein types. But you should still eat lots of veggies and whole grains. Carb types also do well on a plant-based diet.
If you’re a carb type, you should aim for a macronutrient balance of 60% carbs, 20% protein, and 20% fats.
And the last metabolic type:
3. Mixed type
Mixed types are neither fast or slow oxidizers and are neither parasympathetic or sympathetic dominant.
If you’re a mixed type, you’ll have a stronger appetite than carb types, but a lower appetite than protein types. You’ll also have mild cravings for sweets and starchy foods, will have relatively little trouble with weight control, and tend towards fatigue, anxiety, and nervousness like protein types.
Mixed types benefit most from counting your macros since you primarily eat for your energy needs. And because you don’t have the insulin resistance that protein types typically have.
If you’re a mixed type, you should try to eat a mixed diet. You generally need an equal ratio of your proteins, fats, and carbs.
I recently took a metabolic typing quiz and here were my results:
I’m a fast oxidation dominant type — meaning I fall best into the protein type category.
Here’s what else my report said:
So you can tell that I fit both criteria of the protein type — fast oxidation and parasympathetic dominant.
Since everyone has a unique metabolic type, I recommend taking a metabolic typing test yourself to see which type you fit best into. The test only costs you $49.95. (Psst, if you need help interpreting your results, you can schedule a virtual nutrition session with me here.)
Again, metabolic typing is one of my favorite health hacks. So I’m in no way discrediting it.
But, as you’ll see, it’s not as effective as nutrigenomics — especially at preventing and treating life-altering diseases.
Because metabolic typing information is somewhat generalized. It’s like taking an online personality typing test — it will give you some insights in your personality, but it doesn’t detail all the intricacies of your one-of-a-kind personality.
Yes, it’s important to eat most of what your body naturally aligns with. But like your personality, your genetic code is unique. And certain foods in your metabolic type category might sit better with you than other foods.
Nutrigenomics, on the other hand, tells you with crystal clear certainty which foods work best for your body, based on your unique genetic code.
Here’s how nutrigenomics works:
Genes make up our DNA. Each gene has a unique sequence that creates a protein that does something in your body. A genetic mutation is a hardcopy change in one or more parts of that sequence.
This could just make you, you. Or it could contribute to a genetic disease (such as sickle cell anemia or cystic fibrosis).
The cause of this is a hot topic amongst researchers. But most agree that your diet, stressors, and environmental pollutants are the cause for most.
Nutrigenomics helps explain these interactions between your genes and nutrients at a molecular level.
Basically, it helps you understand which foods to eat and which to avoid as it relates to your genetic code and is especially important regarding the prevention or treatment of diseases.
Clients ask me all the time if they should follow a Paleo, Ketogenic, or Plant-based diet. And it depends on both your metabolic type and nutrigenomic report.
A nutrigenomic report is an individual blueprint that tells you exactly where improvements could be made.
My personal favorite is from a company called Nutrition Genome — which is a 50 page report that highlights how you respond to different types of fat, amounts of protein, types of carbohydrates and requirements for fiber.
In other words, it takes all the guesswork out of personalized nutrition.
We’ll look at some protein examples first. Then sugar and carbs. Then fats. And then we’ll look at fiber.
And there are a whole lot of other examples. I just wanted to give you an idea on how in-depth nutrigenomics testing goes!
If you didn’t understand anything I said, don’t worry! That’s where I can help you build a plan that meets your unique needs on a genetic level.
As I mentioned, my personal favorite place for nutrigenomics testing is a company called Nutrition Genome. You can get yours here: Shop DNA Nutrition Tests.
A test from Nutrition Genome runs you $299.
The reason I recommend Nutrition Genome is because they help you better understand how your body works when it comes to:
Plus, Nutrition Genome has a super simple process.
Once you order your kit, you take a simple swab test and send it off to their lab. Each sample undergoes three stages of quality assurance to ensure the most accurate results possible.
Then, about 5 weeks later, you get an email with a link to your private dashboard where you can see your results.
Plus, Nutrition Genome gives you free report updates for life. $299 might seem like a lot for this test, but I promise it’s worth that many times over with the insights you’ll uncover about your body and health.
If you’d like to know exactly which foods you should eat and avoid to prevent and treat any diseases you’re especially prone to, I’d recommend taking the Nutrition Genome test using my practitioner affiliate link below:
If you need help understanding the ins and outs of the report and building a plan that makes sense for your genetic code, I’ve helped many of my clients with this and would love to help you too!
If you’d like to set up a virtual meeting with me to help you interpret your results, you can schedule it here.
I hope you found this article helpful, informative, and more importantly, inspiring!
Nutrigenomics is still relatively new in nutrition circles — but it’s the most robust, in-depth, and personalized nutritional and genetic testing style available to us today.
It gives you a blueprint for your unique body and tells you exactly which foods work with your body as well as which are toxic for your body. All based on your unique genetic code.
Not only will it help you lose weight and keep it off, but it’ll help you prevent (and treat) all the life-threatening diseases that come as a result of your diet. And as the field of nutrition grows, we’re starting to realize how crucial your diet is for preventing and treating diseases.
If you have any questions about nutrigenomics, nutrigenomics testing, or interpreting your results from the Nutrition Genome report, feel free to email me at email@example.com or set up a virtual appointment with me here.
To your health and success always!