When it comes to finding just the right eating plan, it is likely that you’ve already tried many of them. You’ve counted calories and fat grams, went low carb and no carb, followed every fad or friend’s recommendation to find a way of eating that would help you feel good and maintain or lose weight. But if you’re like most people, these methods didn’t stick, often resulting in yo-yo weight loss and no improvement in your health—in fact, you may have even felt worse than before you started the diet because your body was not getting the nutrients it needs under the fad plan.
What is Personalized Nutrition
The cutting-edge method of eating based on personalized nutrition is groundbreaking since it’s based on the fact that eating plans aren’t one-size-fits-all, but rather what works best for you is based on your specific and unique nutrient requirements—and that may be different than what works for your friends or relatives. It follows along the same lines of personalized medicine, which uses pharmacogenomics to determine how a person’s genes will respond to medications.
Personalized nutrition is based on nutrigenomics, or how your genes are affected by different types of foods. This information can be gleaned from genetic testing, which analyzes your genetic makeup for variants that could play a part in how your body responds to certain foods. For instance, if your genetics indicate you slowly metabolize caffeine, that may explain why you feel ‘jittery’ after just one coffee. Or perhaps you are prone to lactose intolerance, which means you should cut back on dairy products.
Genetic testing is also helpful when developing a personalized nutrition plan. It can help guide you to the type of diet that may be best for your body. Some people may respond better to the healthy fats in a Mediterranean diet, while others may be better suited for a low-fat eating plan. It’s based on your specific genetic profile, so it’s tailored for optimal results.
The Science Behind Personalized Nutrition
The science behind nutrigenomics used in genetic testing can drill down even deeper than just a type of diet plan. There are many kinds of useful insights you can get out of wellness DNA testing you can then use to create a personalized plan that leaves you feeling healthier. After all, it’s much easier to stick to an eating plan if you feel satisfied and healthy after your meals.
For instance, your body may be lacking in certain nutrients, which means you’re not nourishing your body for optimal health. Knowing that you have a predisposition towards, say, a vitamin B12 deficiency, can help you adjust your meal plan accordingly or consult with your physician about possibly using a supplement to ensure you’re meeting all your nutritional needs.
You also can learn more about how your DNA plays into your food preferences. Maybe you’ve never been able to stomach the taste of kale, even though you’re read countless news articles about how it’s a superfood that’s so good for you. Your distaste for kale may be based in your genes, because you carry a variance that makes you more sensitive to bitter flavors. This will help you personalize your eating plan, either by finding a substitute for kale that has equal nutritional value, or trying recipes to make kale more appealing with the addition of other flavors—say, topping a kale salad with a dressing with citrus and olive oil.
Personalized nutrition isn’t just about finding the foods that taste good to you, of course—it’s about developing a healthy way of eating that plays an important role in maintaining optimized wellness. Heart health is important for your overall health, and your genetics can help determine if you have a predisposition to high levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol; similarly, you could have a genetic variant for elevated blood sugar levels, which may indicate a higher risk for diabetes. In these cases, modifying your diet—for instance, by cutting down on saturated fats or processed, sugary foods—may help prevent certain health risks from cropping up down the road.
How Effective is a Personalized Nutrition Plan
The effectiveness of your nutrition plan can also be enhanced by your genetic information. Perhaps you are genetically inclined to snack often. If you nosh between meals on chips, cookies or other bad-for-you snack foods, this may have a detrimental effect on your weight and your health, even if you watch what you eat during breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you know you have this genetic propensity, however, you can be empowered to take control of your daily eating plan—maybe you will eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, or plan healthier snacks packed with nutritional value. Genetic variants can explore several of these types of eating behaviors, including whether you have a sweet tooth or the ability to feel satiated, or full, after eating.
Personalized nutrition may sound futuristic, but the future is now. Genetic tests, such as Pathway Genomics’ PathwayFit® and FiT iQ™, can give you the detailed, DNA-based information you need to make the knowledgeable, actionable choices that can lead to optimal nutritional wellness. These tests can be completed in the privacy of your home—just send in a DNA sample from a cheek swab, and in a couple short weeks you will receive a comprehensive report detailing how your genetics influence, and are influenced by, what you eat. You can use these results in consultation with your health care provider to create a personalized nutrition plan; Pathway Genomics’ genetic counselors are also available to answer any follow-up questions. As a bonus, these tests also include genetic information for exercise and fitness for a holistic approach to wellness, because proper diet and exercise typically go hand in hand.
Start exploring the new world of personalized nutrition today. Learn which foods are best for you and which ones you should limit in your daily diet. Find out more about our health and wellness tests and get started on the path toward a better you.