Genes are complicated and have many varying impacts on potential consequences and protein production. However, one concept that is not studied as abundantly is the distinct interaction between environmental impact and the human genome. The goal of studying these concepts is to obtain a better understanding of a specific genotype and nutrient-gene interaction, leading to a personalized health plan designed to promote optimal health and slow disease progression/prevention.Â
When first considering nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics, it is important to realize that they are both defined as the science of the effect of genetic variation and the role of nutrients in genetic expression. The genome holds a great diversity between being inherited, ethnic groups, and the specific bioavailability of nutrients and how they are absorbed. It is key to look at the food being ingested compared to each genome as across the world the nutrients available and commonly consumed vary greatly. With this being said, malnutrition is also a factor looked into when studying the genome as a lack of nutrition affects the stability of a genome.Â
Although nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics are both the science of genetic variation as mentioned above, there are differences between the two. Nutrigenetics is specific to studying the modifying effects of inheritance in nutrition-related genes on micronutrient uptake and metabolism.Â Micronutrients are the essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need to perform and properly carry out biochemical pathways in the body. These nutrients are generally obtained from dietary factors. Those who consume a higher percentage of vegetables, specifically dark green and leafy, fruits, and organic lean meats reach their micronutrient goals more often than those who follow a standard American diet. We check the availability and usage of micronutrients with a serum test from SpectraCell. This test has the ability to provide us with your micronutrient levels over the past six months and what biomechanical pathways are being impacted. A sample of the test is found below:Â
The genetic variability we possess influences how we interact with the environment around us. An example of this is seen in the CYP1A2 gene. This gene determines your ability to metabolize caffeine and why some of us can drink a coffee before bed and sleep great while others can not drink caffeine past noon without it impacting their sleep cycle.Â
Additionally, a change in the DNA sequence may impact and change the amino acid (protein) it codes for. This has the possibility of impacting nutritional outcomes.Â
Epigenetics is an additional cofactor that is involved. Epigenetics is how and when our genes are turned â€œonâ€ or â€œoffâ€™. This strongly impacts our growth, development, and maintenance of a specific organism. When our genes are impacted by our diet or environmental factors, these substances have the ability to interfere with natural epigenetics, occasionally causing our genes to turn â€œoffâ€ or â€œonâ€ at an undesired time, linking to higher disease risk.Â
Nutrigenomics (gene expression)
On the other hand, nutrigenomics includes dietary effects on genome stability. These factors include DNA damage down to the chromosomal level, DNA methylation, and RNA expression. Damage that occurs to DNA can happen at a base, in the DNA sequence, if a telomere is shortened or chromosomal breaking. A specific company we utilize to study the interaction of your nutrition and genes is DNA Life. This company allows us to look at your genetic makeup and see what dietary factors positively impact your health for a better tomorrow. Two specific tests we encourage our patients to have performed are DNA Health and DNA Diet. DNA Health tests for 36 gene variations that are involved in an increased risk of diseases and lifestyle. A few diseases they check for include: osteoporosis, inflammation and oxidative stress, insulin sensitivity, and risk of diabetes. A sample report can be viewed below:Â
The test DNA diet from DNA Life considers multiple gene variations that play a significant impact on metabolism, absorption, and the storage of carbohydrates and fats. From here, these lab results provide your health care practitioner with information with what diets are best suited for your optimal health outcome. A sample of a DNA Diet report is displayed below:Â
By understanding an individualâ€™s genetic basis and their reactivity to a specific food, we are able to create a more personalized plan and obtain a more accurate measure of what tissues your genes will target.Â
In a direct interaction, the molecules are small, lipid-soluble, and carrier-mediated. These molecules are able to directly penetrate the cell membrane and reach the nucleus and the DNA. However, in an indirect interaction the molecular larger and hydrophilic. These are not able to enter the cell but do interact at the cellâ€™s surface sending out a signal. This signal culminates in the transcription factor and actives the TF and it is translocated to the nucleus where it then binds to the DNA. This is where a gene or gene system is determined to turn â€œonâ€ or â€œoffâ€.Â Â
Nutrigenetic & Nuttignomic Example:Â
â€œTumor Necrosis Factors Alphaâ€ TNFA- 308 G> AÂ
The A allele of the -308 G>A of the TNFA gene results in a 2-fold increase in TNFA transcription and increases in production. This is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation.Â
The reason this interaction is both nutrigenetic and nutrigenomic is because this interaction alters the environment by increasing production first, then by impacting the TNFA gene with n-3 fatty acids. More information on the gene can be found here.Â
Nutrients have been proven to alter the expression of genetic information and genetic regulation. Diet affects these expressions at the level of genes by acting on transcription. Chiropractic care is focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders through the manual adjustment or manipulation of the spine, decompressing the joints and nerves. When patients receive chiropractic adjustments, they often report feeling more aware of their surroundings and over-all improved well being. This is due to the fact that subluxation distorts our perception of the environment. Not only does chiropractic care have the ability to affect gene expression but also the body and brain by increasing blood flow and communication in the central nervous system. This has a positive impact on oxidative stress and DNA repair. Reducing oxidative stress significantly decreases disease chance and improves the effectiveness of our biochemical pathways. To read more about the impact of chiropractic care and epigenetics, please see the article Legacy and Lifestyle: Epigenetics and the Potential for Chiropractic below:Â Â
With the use of nutrigenomics, nutrigenomics, and chiropractic care, better health can be achieved. By taking the nutrition requirements per individual rather than looking at everyone as the same, we can investigate and modify their genetic expression resulting in a better quality of life. Combining genes, dietary components, reducing toxins, and chiropractic adjustments to release added stress felt by the bodyâ€™s nervous system, we have the capability to make a lasting impact.Â
Tips & TricksÂ
To get started with altering your future for optimal health, it is best to see a healthcare provider who is able to test for your specific genetic makeup. Secondly, start by removing unnecessary toxins from your daily use. This includes certain laundry detergents containing chemicals, soaps, and transition from using plastic to glass (cups, water bottles, Tupperware,etc.). Reduce the amount of stress your body holds on to. This can be done with belly breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise, or reading. Get regular chiropractic adjustments to ensure the nervous system is properly communicating and eliminating additional stress being carried. Finally, last but not least, start in the kitchen. Re-arrange your grocery trips and meal planning to revolve around vegetables, fruits, and organic lean meats. This will provide the micronutrients your body needs to flourish and generate healthy gene expression rather than creating a pro-inflammatory response.Â
For more information regarding nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics, please see the article below:Â
I find it unbelievable that we have the knowledge and resources to change our genetic expression and the health of our future. This information has provided us with the ability to slow down disease progression and reduce risk factors. If a doctor told you, in 3 years you will have chronic inflammation, pain, and an underlying health condition, would you want to change that path? By finding out what you are more at risk to and what factors impact your genetic expression, you have the ability to live a healthy active lifestyle without chronic inflammation, pain, and not receive a diagnosis as soon, if not ever! This is extremely powerful and important information. The more people understand how genetics is impacted by our environment and how our gut health is related to disease, and how we can reduce it all by starting in the kitchen, the sooner we can begin to see a reduction in the number of individuals diagnosed with health conditions each year. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health CoachÂ Â
Fenech M, El-Sohemy A, Cahill L, et al. Nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics: viewpoints on the current status and applications in nutrition research and practice. J Nutrigenet Nutrigenomics. 2011;4(2):69â€89. doi:10.1159/000327772Â
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