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The New Science of Nutrigenomics

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The relatively new science of ‘Nutrigenomics’ studies the effects of food, and its constituent agents on how genes (especially those related to body weight) express themselves.  Through this study researchers hope to unlock the secrets of how the chemical constituents of food interact with human genes and DNA structure to optimize nutrition, and be able to tailor weight loss/gain/maintenance to the individual human’s genotype.

This science hypothesizes that because of the immense diversity of human genotypes and DNA structures that it is possible, and even probable, that there are immense differences in how different people utilize nutrition and calories.  By decyphering this code it is hoped that effective individual diet plans can be created that will help people to be stay healthy and fit through consuming a diet proper and optimal for their own personal body type.

During the 20th century nutritional science research primarily focused on studying and preventing ‘deficiency diseases’ or diseases caused by or related to vitamin/mineral deficiencies, e. g. scurvy, rickets, etc.  Relating to this has come research based on conditions and diseases; obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc. that are created or influenced by ‘overnutrition’ (or improper nutrition)  that have become rampant in the developed world.

It was in this shift from the study of physiology (study of body functions) and epidemiology (study of how disease spreads) to the tightly focused fields of genetics and molecular biology that created the new field of nutrigenomics.This genetic research is also addressing biochemical and genetic disorders that have pathological (disease causing) results have discovered a high correlation between nutrition and genetic disorders that have discovered certain hormonal polymorphisms (gene mutations) that occur in that result in serious disorders, e.g. a mutation of the hormone Leptin that leads to gross obesity.

Unfortunately, the science of Nutrigenomics is still very new. Although incredibly promising there is such a vast amount of research to do, and diagnostic tools to be developed, that it will still be many years before it becomes a practical tool in the medical and weight loss arsenal.  At present, its main promise is the concept that effective dieting needs to be an individualized process rather than a “one size fits all concept” that most diet plans and programs have traditionally embraced.  However, until this new science becomes more advanced it is still the best advice to adopt a healthy, balanced, low-fat, low-carb eating plan complemented by a sensible exercise plan in the name of losing or maintaining body weight.

Related citations in PubMed (More from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

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