What is Nutrigenetics?

Nutrigenetics is the study of the relationships among genes, diet, and health outcomes. The functioning of many genes in various tissues can be affected by the content, quantity, and quality of food.

Even if the mechanisms associated with the positive or negative effects of food components are resolved currently, each person’s reactions to food may also vary depending on individual gene differences. Therefore, it is very important to identify the reasons for the reactions of metabolism to consumed foods and to reveal the relationship between food and health. Nutrigenomics / nutrigenetics field stands out as one of the most important branches in recent years in order to determine this relationship and to keep the individual away from disease risk in terms of preventive medicine.

There is a mutually dynamic interaction between human genome and the nutrition. Intensive researches have been carried out to understand the interaction between genes and nutritions by enlightening the human genome sequence and the effects of nutrients on gene expression; research on dietary response to genetic variations and understanding of the effects of nutrients on gene expression has become possible by making studying nutrients at the molecular level possible. It is now a clear fact that every person’s response to every diet is not the same. While food may pose a risk to some people, it may actually benefit others. Genetic factors are partly responsible for these differences. Determining genetic variations is the aim of nutritional genomics, which can help people “individually” maintain and improve their health.

Why is Nutrition Based on Genes Important?

Nutrigenetic nutrition aims to create a style of nutrition that corresponds to the genetic integrity or genotype of the diet of the individual. There are about 23 thousand sets of genes in a person’s genome. Genes are part of the DNA sequence that contains cell instructions for protein construction. Many common diseases, such as diabetes cancer, obesity, cardiovascular diseases occur with polygenic heritage. How much a nutrient affects a person’s health also depends on the genetic structure of that person. Therefore, nutrition is very important in preventing these diseases through diet.

Some genes related to nutrition and variations in these genes may affect the incidence of chronic diseases in individuals, and the onset, progression and severity of the disease. Therefore, changes in individuals’ diets based on information about a person’s food needs, nutritional status, and genetic structure can be protective against chronic diseases, reduce the severity of the disease, or even be therapeutic.

While rare genetic differences are called mutations, common genetic variations that occur more than 1 percent in society are called polymorphisms. Cataloging single forms of these variations (single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP) is one of the biggest attempts at human genome study. SNP occurs when only a single nucleotide changes in the DNA sequence. During the study of the genetic variations in human genes, it’s been proved that 100 thousand to 300 thousand different SNPs were found as markers. Because of these individual differences in genes, people have different disease predispositions, physical characteristics or different levels of immunity to diseases. For example, certain genes predispose to developing insulin resistance.

Polymorphism is the condition that some people have and some do not. The genetic characteristics of the person should also be investigated for customized nutritional recommendations to be created. Individual nutrition and diet prescriptions specific to the person can be prepared in the light of the information obtained as a result of genetic tests, individual nutrition. Thanks to these prescriptions, people are aimed to lead a healthy life.


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