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Nutrigenetics: Exploring the Relationship between Science and Nutrition

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Nutrigenetics: Are We What We Eat ?


Our unique genetic makeup influences our body's response to nutrients, including fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. 

By understanding the correlation between your genes and your nutritional response, you can tailor your diet to better suit your body's needs and achieve optimal health. 

However, it's important to remember that while nutrigenetics provides valuable insights, other factors like allergies, intolerances, your biome, and lifestyle habits also play a crucial role in your overall well-being and should be considered when making dietary choices.


Healthier Nutrition and Its Effects on Your Body

Understanding how your genetics impact your nutritional response is the first step to optimizing your diet for better health. 

Beginning with the Mediterranean diet, known for its high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil, this diet carries multiple health benefits, such as reduced risk of heart disease and longer lifespan. However, genetic variations, such as those in the FTO and APOE genes, can affect your response to this diet, compromising its effectiveness in weight control and cardiovascular health.

When it comes to vegetable intake, it's well established that fruits and vegetables are loaded with essential nutrients that are important for maintaining good health. A diet with low intake of these nutrients can lead to deficiencies and increased risk of disease. Interestingly, genetic factors such as the TAS2R38 gene, which affects how we perceive bitterness, can affect your vegetable intake and consequently your overall dietary status.

In terms of fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 are essential for heart health and brain function. Improper intake can contribute to chronic inflammation and increased risk of certain diseases. Genetic variations in genes such as FADS1 and FADS2 can affect how you metabolize these fatty acids, affecting your dietary needs and response.

A diet high in fats, especially unhealthy ones, can lead to several health concerns, including obesity and cardiovascular diseases. It's important to ensure a balanced intake of healthy fats for optimal energy and cell function. Genes such as APOA5 and LPL participate in lipid metabolism, affecting how your body responds to dietary fats and your risk of fat-related diseases.

Lastly, carbohydrates are a primary source of energy, but overconsuming them, especially refined carbohydrates, can be harmful. A balanced intake of whole foods is important for blood sugar regulation and digestive health. Genetic variations in genes such as TCF7L2 and PPARG can affect carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity, affecting your body's response to carbohydrates and your risk of metabolic disorders.


Vitamins and Minerals and Their Role for Your Body

Your body relies on a wide variety of vitamins and minerals for optimal health, and it is important to understand how your genetics affect their absorption and metabolism.

Iron is essential for oxygen transport and energy production. However, genetic variations can affect its absorption and metabolism, increasing your risk of anemia or iron overload. 

Calcium, on the other hand, is important for bone health and muscle function. Genetic mutations might put you at risk of low bone density, leading eventually to osteoporosis. 

Vitamin D (known as the "sunshine vitamin") and Vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant) are also important for calcium absorption, collagen production and immune function. Many vitamin  deficiencies are believed to have a genetic foundation when it comes to synthesis or even metabolism.

As for the B vitamin complex, including B2, B6, B9 (folate), and B12, these nutrients are essential for energy production, brain health, and red blood cell synthesis. 

In the same vein, vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells from oxidative stress.

Genetic variations can affect the absorption and metabolism of these vitamins, its antioxidant effects, which in turn can affect energy levels, cognitive function, the risk of anemia and cardiovascular health.

Lastly, vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health. A deficiency in this vitamin K can put you at risk of impaired blood clotting and reduced bone density.


Your Metabolic Profile

Your metabolic profile is one of the most important predictors of your overall health, especially in terms of cardiovascular risk. Understanding the importance of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as their influence with genetic factors, is key to maintaining a healthy metabolic balance.

HDL cholesterol, often referred to as "good" cholesterol, is beneficial to your body by helping to remove other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Genetic variations can interfere with HDL levels, thereby compromising its protective function for your cardiovascular health.

On the other hand, LDL cholesterol, known as "bad" cholesterol, can be harmful to your body, especially at high levels. It can promote plaque buildup in your arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, there has been a link between high LDL cholesterol and an increased risk of diabetes. Genetic factors can affect LDL cholesterol levels and metabolism, impacting your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood, and high levels can lead to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls, increasing your risk of stroke, heart attack, and coronary heart disease. The relationship between triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol is actually quite complex because they all interact with each other and with other cardiovascular risk factors. Genetic variations can affect triglyceride levels and how your body processes these fats, affecting your overall metabolic health.


Nutrigenetics and Senses

Your senses, especially taste and appetite, play an important part in your dietary habits and preferences. Genetics can significantly influence these sensory experiences, therefore influencing your diet and overall health.

  • Bitter Taste: The ability to experience bitter tastes is influenced by genetic variations in taste receptor genes, such as TAS2R38. Individuals with certain variants of this gene may perceive certain vegetables or foods as unpleasantly bitter, which can affect their vegetable intake and overall diet quality.
  • Sweet taste: Likewise, genetic variations can affect your perception of sweetness. Variants in genes such as TAS1R2 and TAS1R3 can influence your preference for sweet foods, which in turn can influence your sugar intake and possibly your risk of developing obesity or diabetes.
  • Pecking: Genetics may also be involved in snacking, or pecking. Variants in genes related to hunger and satiety signals, such as the FTO gene, can potentially influence your tendency to snack between meals, affecting your overall caloric intake and weight management.
  • Caffeine Intake: Your genetics could affect how you metabolize caffeine. Variants in the CYP1A2 gene can affect the rate at which your body breaks down caffeine, which in turn influences your sensitivity to its effects and your consumption habits. For example, slow metabolizers may develop adverse effects from caffeine, such as tremors or insomnia, even with moderate consumption.


Weight and Nutrition

Your weight and your diet are strongly connected, and genetics play an important role in how your body reacts to different diets and nutrients. Learning about these genetic influences can help you determine the most effective nutritional strategy for weight management.

  • Diet effectiveness: Your genetic profile can affect how well you respond to different diets, such as the Mediterranean, low-fat, or low-carb diets. For example, people with specific genetic variants may be more efficient on a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss, while others may benefit more from a Mediterranean diet for heart health.
  • Predisposition to obesity: Genetics can affect your predisposition to weight gain. Variants in genes such as FTO and MC4R can interfere with appetite regulation and energy expenditure, increasing the risk of being overweight or obese.
  • Difficulty losing weight: Some people have a genetic predisposition that makes it more challenging to lose weight. Variations in genes related to metabolism and fat storage can compromise the effectiveness of weight loss programs.
  • Food cravings and emotional eating: Environment and genetics may influence eating behaviors, including food cravings and emotional eating. Variants in genes such as DRD2, which are linked to dopamine signaling, may affect food cravings and the urge to eat as a reaction to emotional stress.
  • Feeling of satiety: Your sense of being full after eating, or satiety, could be affected by genetic factors. Variations in genes such as LEPR, which are linked to leptin signaling, can interfere with satiety signals and overall food intake.
  • Response to monosaturated fats: How your body processes monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil and avocados, can also be influenced by genetics. Certain genetic variants can alter lipid metabolism and how these fats influence your weight and heart health.


Nutrition test

Nutrition small

This test provides details on how your genetics influence the way your body reacts to different types of diet and nutrients.

Adnà's Input

In his book, The Physiology of Taste (1825), the French gastronomer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin coined the famous phrase : "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who are".

At Adnà, we are firm believers in deepening our understanding as a global community of the complex relationship between science and nutrition. 

Food should bring us happiness and support our physical and mental well-being, and Nutrigenetics provides tools to cultivate a positive, proactive approach to diet and health.

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