Personalizing Nutrient Requirements
Food is the foundation of healthy living. Now advances in genomic medicine are providing the tools you need to create personalized diet plans – with even more precision.
Nutrients promote growth, development, and maintenance of the human organism, a complicated orchestration involving many biological systems. Nutrients can effect gene expressions that influence cell biology. Other ingredients in food, such as bioactives, influence cell biology via signaling pathways that affect biochemical pathways. Diet also affects enzymatic reactions in many metabolic processes. If all of these biological systems are optimized, functional and metabolic pathways produce the building blocks of life.
Each step along this journey is under the control of genes, while nutrients are the communicators, orchestrating these complex processes:
- Digestive enzymes, ATP-driven pumps designed to enhance absorption
- Carrier proteins that move the right nutrients to the right cells
- Synthesis of metabolic substrates and enzymes that generate parts of biochemical pathways
- Receptor sites that facilitate cells communication between the external environment and the nucleus, impacting cellular and metabolic processes
Personalized Nutrition: An Extension of Personalized Medicine
Personalizing nutrient intake to optimizes growth, development, and health has been a goal of nutritionists for decades, but how can we know exactly which nutrients and foods each patient or client requires? Best guess, trial and error, and one-size-fits all approaches to personalized nutrition can have very mixed results.
For many years, nutrition professionals have made broad assumptions based on a nutrient’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). The RDA attempted to define the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of 97–98% of healthy people. When research was insufficient to develop a RDA, another parameter, Adequate Intake (AI) is used, assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy.
To help consumers apply the principles and concepts of the RDAs, the Food & Drug Administration introduced the term Daily Value. Daily Values are used on the Nutrition or Supplement Facts box on foods, beverages and nutritional supplements. This measurement is also used by the federal government for school lunch programs.
As long as people had the RDA of a vitamin or mineral, had sufficient intake of dietary protein, carbohydrates, and fat, most physicians and nutritionists believed that overt nutrient deficiencies would be avoided. These are the same assumptions that are made by a panel of experts when the RDAs are reviewed and updated every several years.
The Human Genome Project and personalized genomic testing have exposed several problems in the assumptions used to establish the RDAs. Small differences in the human genome accounts for all of the phenotypic variations that exists in the human race–from hair color, height, weight, susceptibility to disease, and nutrient requirements.
The fact is, that we’re all quite different, and any standardized approach to nutrition will fall short on the personal level.
This led to the establishment of a new scientific discipline—personalized nutrition. With a DNA-informed approach, a clinician can:
- Determine how each individual metabolizes certain nutrients from food
- Assess whether the nutrient requirement established by the RDA is adequate or needs to be adjusted based on gene variants in one or more of these metabolic processes: digestion, absorption, transport, metabolism, or utilization
- Identify the biochemically and metabolically significant changes in DNA sequence affect metabolic processes and nutritional requirements
- Revealing situations where genes are involved in the biotransformation of a pro-nutrient into an active molecule, creating a “nutritional paradox”
With strategies tailored to each individual’s unique biochemistry, genomic testing reveals the optimal pathway to personalizes nutrition, delivering unparalleled insight and precision to questions of individualized diet, nutrition, and supplementation.
The Ultimate Wellness test analyzes genes involved in micronutrient metabolism to provide this critical information.
Learn more about using genomics to create personalized nutrition plans in our Genomic Medicine Certification Program.