How do our genes affect a healthy nutrition?
Many new studies in the field of nutrition present different, sometimes even conflicting, results. These results may cause certain confusion in people trying to adjust their diet and nutritional lifestyle to latest research and innovations. One of the main reasons for these differences between studies lies in the differences in our genetic profiles.
Similarities and differences
In certain aspects, there are agreements and recommendations regarding nutrition, such as the consumption of the five main food groups, with an emphasis put on protein and fresh vegetables. However, when dealing with more complicated dilemmas, results are not always certain.
Our similarities overcome our differences, with 99.5% of the genome identical in all people. However, the remaining half percent is extremely significant. This genetic code includes around thirty million letters that effect personal adjustments relating to our nutrition.
Our genetic profile, combined with environmental factors, determine traits such as hair color, body weight, and our chances for developing diseases. We can use DNA to create an assumption of the height we may reach in adulthood, but certain environmental factors may also come into play. The food we eat at an early age influences our genes, along with other factors including:
- Consumption of nutrients vital for our health such as vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, etc.
- Eating all five food groups.
- Sufficient exposure to sunlight and vitamin D.
- Exposure to certain toxins.
- Bacteria and viruses.
- Exercise and regular physical activity.
- Alcohol and drugs.
- A healthy lifestyle including sufficient sleep and reasonable working hours (or alternately, sleep deprivation and overexertion).
- Other unknown factors.
Matching our lifestyle to our genetic profile
These results may raise concerns among certain people, but the fact that these factors can be controlled, while genes cannot be directly influenced, can encourage us to create a healthier lifestyle. The more we learn about our genes and their role, the more we can adjust external factors and create a more positive influence that can prevent damage to our health.
For example, certain genes can teach us a lot about our metabolism, while others can provide information on the way nutrients affect our health. When we familiarize with our personal risk factors, we can make better choices regarding our health. Healthier choices can affect our gene expression and help improve it.
Genetic expression of celiac disease
One contemporary example of genetic differences can be found in celiac disease. While most of the population can consume gluten without concern, some people experience a negative reaction when they eat food containing gluten, resulting from their gene expression. By becoming familiar with the vast data known about the genetic expression that causes gluten intolerance, we may be able to prevent these reactions through nutritional adjustments (such as refraining from eating gluten). Therefore, early knowledge of our genetic data has a positive effect on our lifestyle.
Genetic testing can be performed rather simply using blood or saliva samples. In fact, every sample containing cells from our body can provide an image of our genetic profile, since all our body’s cells carry the same genetic code. Researchers can use these tests to interpret certain genes and their effect on our health. This way, we can adjust our lifestyle to better suit our genetic code and lead healthier lives.
Genetic testing can provide information on various factors, such as:
- Environmental effects.
- Detecting rare diseases.
- Risk for developing diseases.
- Carrier screening for diseases without symptoms.
As long as we maintain a healthy lifestyle and choose the most suitable nutrition, our gene expression will be positive, and we can enjoy healthier lives.