Genes Are Not Our Destiny!
Up until approximately 10 years ago, it was commonly held belief that our genes dictated our destiny. In other words, if one had a long family history of a specific health condition such as diabetes or heart disease then it was almost guaranteed that this would have been the reality for generations to come. The recent emerging field of epigenetics, however, has completely debunked this deterministic perspective.
Epigenetics has shown us that genes, instead of dictating destiny, are merely warehouses of genetic potential. Whether this genetic potential becomes a reality is contingent upon the complex interplay between genetic expression and environmental stimuli. Environment stimuli includes ALL influences such as diet, exercise, light, air quality, stress, environmental toxic influences, relationships, career, mental and emotional patterns, and the list goes on.
With having said this, if one does have a family history of diabetes and they then engage in the same lifestyle patterns as their predecessors, then the likelihood of developing diabetes and/or heart disease is high. Granted, genes do continue to play a role in the development of dis-ease, but we all have the power to heavily influence the extent of the role they play. Bottom line, if we desire better health than those that went before us, we need to live our lives differently than they did. Our daily habits truly do define our health and lives. With good daily habits and supportive environmental stimuli, one can surely gain the upper hand and become empowered in the face of genetic disadvantages.
Nutrigenomics: What It Is and Why It's Important
To review, Epigenetics is the study of how environmental stimuli influence genetic expression. Another way to explain this is that whether a gene will express health or dis-ease depends on the input from the environment. Nutrigenomics, on the other hand, is a much broader level of inquiry which encompasses the following:
- Biochemistry (study of all bio-chemical processes in the body)
- Physiology (study of the mechanisms and interactions within a living system)
- Nutrition (study of how food and nutrients interacts with the body)
- Genomics (study of genes and their expression)
- Proteonics (study of all proteins that can be expressed by a cell)
- Metabolomics (study of the end products of cells and microbes)
- Transcriptomics (study of RNA expression)
- Epigenomics (study of all epigenetic modifications)
Modern medical science has shown us that by looking at genetic SNP's (single nucleotide polymorphisms), which are variances in the genetic expression of genes, we can evaluate genetic potential for health challenges. This gives us insight into the interaction between our genes, diet, and environment. This is hugely empowering because it helps to inform therapeutic interventions in the areas of specific foods that can be beneficial or harmful, macro nutrient ratios, lifestyle choices, environmental exposures, targeted nutritional supplementation, and medications. By having this information, we now have much greater power to influence our health and our lives.
To expound upon the previous point let's take a look at folate as an example of how Nutrigenomics plays an integral role in health. To begin, let's first define what folate is and why it's important. Folate, which is vitamin B9, is a universal donor for methylation. Methylation is one of the most fundamental functions of life and plays a role in every biochemical process within each bodily system. It happens upwards of billions of times each second. Because of this, it regulates inflammation, helps maintain stable mental and emotional states, and is heavily involved in the synthesis of necessary compounds for optimal cellular detoxification.
Without sufficient folate to meet our daily, bio-individual requirements, we become prone to dis-ease states because DNA integrity is now compromised. We feels it's safe to say that everyone understands the implications of radiation exposure on the body. Deficiencies of many micronutrients including folate have been found to result in similar level of DNA damage as the before-mentioned radiation exposures. Such deficiencies can result in the rupture of DNA, oxidative stress, and the eventually lead to the development of cancer.
So, when and how does Nutrigenomics come into play when it comes to folate? Nutrigenomics helps to identify genetic variances that put one at risk of folate deficiencies. One such variant is MTHFR. The two commonly known variances for MTHFR are 677T and 1298C. If one has variances on either one of these, the capability of one's body to assimilate dietary folate into methylfolate (which is the bio available form) decreases. That said, simply taking methylfolate in supplement form is not the answer to creating sustainable wellness. In some instances and depending on several factors, this can run the risk of creating more imbalances elsewhere in the folate pathway. A proper approach is one that takes a comprehensive look at the totality of one's genetic potential. Such an approach will correlate all genetic variances not only with each other but also within the context of one's history, lifestyle habits, and presenting health challenges.
Genetic Variant Reports: Status Quo
If you have been dealing with chronic health challenges for awhile you are most likely well aware of genetic variant reports and the role they might play in helping you move the needle in the direction of improved health. That said, however, you are probably also aware of how overwhelming the data can be and how easy it is to fall down the dreaded rabbit hole of endless genetic SNP's (single nucleotide polymorphisms). We both vividly recall the days of first plugging our 23andme raw data into some of the more popular genetic readers and being utterly overwhelmed and asking "Now what?". The data that was provided to us never translated into tangible ways for us to help us dig our way out of the chronic illness hole.
As practitioners, we have come a long way from the formative days of saying "Now What?". Clients now come to us with a variety of genetic variant reports that we use to help us formulate on overall clinical picture and help them to create bio-individualized healing protocols. Even with our greater knowledge of Nutrigenomics, however, these reports can be very challenging and overly time consuming for both us and our clients. Even after hours of explanation, we find that clients still often feel overwhelmed and confused about the reports and what the data means to them in the context of their health and life. This overwhelm often results in falling deeper into the rabbit hole, which then only serves to perpetuate the stress response.
Nutrition Genome Enters the Game!
Nutrition Genome is a comprehensive, client-friendly genetic variant report that has done a fabulous job of removing the overwhelm and the question of "Now What?". The Nutrition Genome report helps both practitioners and clients to become better familiar with all the genes, how they interact with one another, and how to apply the results in a practical and successful manner for improved health.
As we touched upon earlier, genes are not our destiny! The medical community, however, seems to continue to blame many health issues that can't be explained by diagnostic testing on genetics.
Genetic variant testing brings a level of understanding to genetics that helps to remove the fear of the unknown and factors that we don't yet fully understand. Cultural programming has lead to commonly held fears that certain health conditions that run in our families will automatically happen to us. Nutrition Genome translates complex genetic data in such a way to remove the fear, arm the individual with knowledge, and help create a successful plan of action within the context of epigenetics. The report reveals significant healing opportunities and bio-individualized, therapeutic interventions in the areas of:
- Digestion and Colon/Intestinal Health
- Hormone Balance
- Neurotransmitter Synthesis
- Inflammation and Anti-oxidant Protection
- Detoxification Capabilities
- Methylation Cycle
- Mental Health
- DNA Protection, Damage, and Repair
- Cardiovascular Health
- Diet and Nutritional Supplementation
- Athletic Performance
- Drug and Toxin Interactions
- Additional Lab Work
In addition to all this, you will also receive a bio-individualized food list to better help you navigate the dietary recommendations within the report.
Stay tuned for the next article in this series where we will take a deeper dive into genetic SNP's, Navigating the Report, Digestion, Micronutrient Intake, and More!
Get Your Nutrition Genome Report With a Customized Multi-Vitamin Formulation Here!