Weight Loss Wednesday March 9, 2016

DNA Tailored Diets

Are the keys to a better body and better health hiding inside your DNA?

Scientists say we're getting closer to a kitchen complete with a tailored personal diet - our own personal spectrum of supplements and food types to suit our nutritional requirements all based on our DNA, and why not a 3D printer to make our haute-couture meals for us?

The kitchen of the future is probably not going to be the flying toaster once depicted on the Jetsons.

Genetic Science

We're inching towards a lifestyle option that involves preventing disease based on individual profiles rather than just waiting for the inevitable symptoms. If genetics can help us eat our way free of diseases that are waiting to strike us, surely the future has arrived.

The NHS Genetics Education website is in agreement, suggesting that in the future they may be able to recommend a diet that includes certain foods to switch off a person's genetic risk factors such as high blood pressure, or Alzheimer's disease.

What's Available Now?

There's no need to wait. Online nutri-genetic companies are already offering a personalised service. Simply send them a swab of saliva and companies such as Nutrifit and DNAfit claim that can examine 45 gene variants to discover issues like lactose intolerance or an increased need for specific vitamins. They'll even provide a shopping list for optimal health management.

But not everyone agrees. John Hesketh, a molecular biologist at the University of Newcastle medical school believes we are not advanced enough yet to offer tailored diets on gene testing. In fact we're still trying to find out genetic variants that affect heart disease and cancer without any dietary involvement. He suggests that web-based companies are simply limited to suggesting a lifestyle choice rather than medical advice.

Will It Work?

At a basic level, if someone is willing to pay for their DNA to be examined then they're likely to be more motivated than the average Joe on the street. Perhaps it's more likely you'll stick to a healthy diet if you've invested money, time and interest.

But there may already be more to it than that. José Ordovás, director of nutrition and genomics at Tufts University USA says nutri-genetics have gained a lot of ground in the past few years and cites a study in which 7000 people at the genetic risk of diabetes, who were on a low fat diet, were three times more likely to have a stroke. Those who switched to a Mediterranean diet 'neutralised' their risk. This wouldn't be possible with DNA genetics.

Tailored DNA diets clearly have a long way to go, but it's exciting that we're at the beginning of a new approach to medicine - managing risk in the manner of vaccines. A tailored diet of food as medicine is exciting; almost on a level with when experts said red wine was full of flavonoids.

DNA tailored diets may not be perfect right now, but in the future, who knows. Perhaps it'll rescue us from superbugs and the anti-biocalypse.



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