When diets that seem to work for everyone else don’t work for you, what can you do?
Sometimes finding the right diet plan can feel like shopping for jeans. A style that may fit perfectly for others just isn’t right for you. There is something that may help! It’s been recently featured in the February issue of Vogue. It’s nutrigenomics. Today I’ll tell you about nutrigenomics and my personal experience in getting tested.
Understanding the Basics
Our DNA is made up of genes, and each gene is made up of smaller pieces called nucleotide sequences. Our genes determine how our bodies operate. Differences in the small pieces of genes (single nucleotide polymorphisms or “SNPs”- pronounced “snips”) can affect how our bodies function. When it comes to nutrition, this can mean that our bodies may respond differently to foods or diets. So, while Paleo may be great for one person, it may not have the same results for someone else. Nutrigenomics is a tool that uses genetic testing to help personalize nutrition for whatever your health and fitness goal may be.
Shopping for Genes
As a nutritionist and personal trainer, I was able to recently register for a free account and order a test kit through Nutrigenomix. I chose Nutrigenomix for a few reasons.
I had first heard about them at a nutrition conference. After doing some research, I learned that the saliva test they use is more accurate than a swab. Also, Nutrigenomix is affiliated with the University of Toronto, has had its testing used in scientific research, and offers a sport nutrition version that was attractive to me as an athlete.
After making my order, I received the kit in the mail. It included a self-addressed stamped envelope, a brochure with additional information, two sets of instructions and a case with a saliva collection vial. It was very easy to collect and send off my sample for analysis to the lab.
Getting my Genes
After a few weeks, I received my report. I was very excited to see how my body worked on a deeper level. The report started off with a personalized letter explaining how nutrigenomics can help me tailor my personal dietary habits to my specific needs, such as weight management, body composition, metabolism, heart health, food intolerances, and even exercise and risk of injury.
This was followed by a summary of my results which painted the big picture of my genes: whether my body has typical responses, elevated risks, or diminished responses to different dietary or exercise factors.
How I Fit in my Genes
I was surprised to see my elevated risk associated with dietary components such as saturated fat. It turns out that I have a genetic variant that indicates an increased risk to gain body fat if I were to maintain a diet high in saturated fat. Most people don’t have this elevated risk.
To decrease my risk of storing fat, it would be good for me to eat sources of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. On top of that, I also have a diminished response to energy balance. Basically, my body uses up to 10% less calories than an individual with a different genetic composition. That means I might pack on more pounds than someone else eating the same amount of calories.
Putting this together, if I wanted to cut body fat to lean out in time for bikini season, I should decrease my saturated fat intake and restrict calories. A ketogenic diet may not be a good option for me.
I felt a sense of empowerment after getting my genetic report. I had a clearer picture of how I should navigate my eating habits, rather than jumping from one random diet to another and hoping something will work. Soon I found myself shifting from coconut oil to avocado oil and switching from peanut butter to almond butter.
Truly there is no one-size-fits-all diet. Whether you want to shed some pounds, maintain health or are an athlete looking to improve performance, consider nutrigenomics. To get tested ask your primary care doctor, nutritionist, dietitian or personal trainer or go to the Nutrigenomix site to find a provider near you.