Nutrigenetics is concerned with the effects of inheriting a particular gene variant on a person's responsiveness to a particular nutrient or diet, and how this affects metabolism, health status and risk of disease.
NHS Genetics Education Centre
Genetic diversity in the population reflects evolutionary drivers, which have allowed the human species to adapt and survive in its particular environment. While medical genetics in the 20th century was focused on single-gene disorders, these are rare in the general population. In the post-genome 21st century, knowledge of variation in drug and dietary response, pharmacogenetics and nutrigenetics, offers great promise in optimising personal health outcomes for all. Nutrigenetic variation applies to everyone: understanding how each person's DNA software governs response to diet, lifestyle and other environmental exposures offers a new opportunity to maximise our potential: anti-ageing starts with knowing your genotype.
Nutrigenetic counselling uses knowledge of genotype in respect of:
• Diet-related cardiovascular health
• Diet–related bone health
• Diet and inflammation
• Weight control
• Digestive health
The first nutrigenetic tests appeared on the market in 2001 to some level of criticism by those who viewed such testing only through the lens of experience of serious inherited disorders. Direct-to-consumer testing is still debated. While privacy and control are important to consumers and are likely to make direct-testing, ie without an intermediary health professional, highly attractive –nonetheless most consumers are likely to want professional advice on their genetic data, and to update that advice as research knowledge expands.
As new personal genome services offer full privacy and dynamic interactivity, with constant updating, the 21st century consumer will be empowered in proactive control of their health in new and exciting ways.
The European Nutrigenomics Organisation (Nugo) is funded by the European Commission's Research Directorate General. From 2004-2009 it was funded under the Sixth Framework Programme to establish a Network of Excellence: it comprises 23 partners (research organisations, universities, small- medium-sized businesses from 10 EU countries. It is developing a Nutritional Phenotype database with US colleagues.
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