Nutritional Genomics: What You Need to Know

As genetic science moves forward with lightning-fast speed, researchers have begun to understand that while certain individuals have genetic predispositions to developing certain diseases, the diseases may not actually occur. Why do some genetically-predisposed people get sick, while others do not? In many cases, some component of diet triggers, enhances, or suppresses certain gene interactions. Some dietary factors lead to increased protection from disease in susceptible individuals, while other dietary factors lead to increased risk of disease. The study of these gene-diet interactions forms the emerging science we call “nutritional genomics.” Nutritional genomics is one of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics five strategic focus areas, representing a major undertaking for DIFM. This exciting field is poised to become the future of dietetics.

Nutritional Genomics concentrates on the effect our genes have on our risk of disease and dysfunction that can be mitigated by nutritional intervention, as well as the impact our food, nutrition, stress, and toxins have on the expression of our genes. It is the umbrella term that includes nutrigenetics, nutrigenomics, and nutritional epigenomics.

Nutrigenetics focuses on the impact the changes in our genes (also referred to as polymorphisms) have on our potential health path, which is strongly influenced by food, nutrition, stress, and toxins.

Nutrigenomics concentrates on the impact of diet and lifestyle factors, such as food, nutrition, stress, and toxins on gene expression.

Nutritional Epigenomics focuses on the changes in gene expression influenced by modifications to DNA and its associated proteins without changing the nucleotide sequence of DNA, where the genetic information is stored. These epigenomics changes affect gene expression and can also be inherited.

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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics HOD Backgrounders

Backgrounders are intended to provide a foundation of knowledge regarding a mega issue. They include information about member views, foresight about the future environment of the profession, insight into capacity and strategic position of the Academy, and consideration of the ethical implications. Several backgrounders have related free CPEUs for members. See the Academy House of Delegates page for more information.

Check out Journal of Human Genetics http://www.nature.com/jhg/index.html and Genetic Research News through Medical News Today http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/sections/genetics/