Nutrigenomics: Current Career Trends
Nutrigenomics is the study of how food and diet affect the human genome (our DNA) and how individual genetic variations affect our nutritional needs, which can impact nutrition-related chronic diseases. The purpose of nutrigenomics is to ultimately eliminate these diseases by customizing diet plans based on people’s gene expression. For example, you eat a certain food and the dietary chemicals/nutrients within that food can affect the human genome and alter gene expression or structure. This altered structure can play a role in the onset, incidence, or progression of chronic diseases. If a person knows which foods affect his specific genes in this way, the person can eat more or less of these foods, depending on the effect, and truly customize their diet to prevent certain chronic diseases.
Preventive health could save health care providers $3.7 billion dollars annually. Many insurance companies now offer preventive healthcare options so that people don’t have to already be sick to go to the doctor. So how does one get involved with nutrigenomics for preventive health care and what are the benefits of incorporating this science into one’s practice?
Lisa Cianfrini, MSc, RD, manager of dietitian services and business development with Nutrigenomix, explains how dietitians can now make use of nutrigenomics testing to tailor nutrition recommendations to a client’s unique genetic profile. By providing people with a tailored diet, a dietitian can personalize one’s nutrition plan and optimize one’s long-term health goals.
If you want to implement nutrigenomics into your practice, you’ll need to get a DNA testing kit. There are many test kits available, but not all kits are created equal. Once the client’s sample is collected and sent to the lab, you’ll receive a detailed report which includes personalized dietary recommendations based on one’s gene variations. The dietary recommendations can also be used to create customized meal plans for that individual, informs Cianfrini.
The simplest way to get involved with nutrigenomics is to get educated. Nutrigenomix offers a comprehensive training guide with their starter package which includes scientific references and information on how to counsel clients, test kits, marketing materials, and other useful resources. Education is essential in understanding the science behind the recommendations.
The best part about Nutrigenomix, reports Cianfrini, is that the recommendations are food-focused; Nutrigenomix doesn’t promote or sell supplements or specialized food products since the science does not support that. So the dietitian doesn’t have to focus on pills to optimize one’s health and can use their clinical judgment to determine if supplementation is needed. Nutrigenomix is for use exclusively by registered dietitians, which means that clients always receive evidence-based nutrition counseling along with their test results.
Applying nutrigenomics to one’s practice can assist with disease prevention and help to optimize the client’s health. For more information, check out the following websites to see if you want to take your clients’ health to the next level:
2. Ferguson, L., & Barnett, M. (2012). Research in nutrigenomics and potential applications to practice. Nutrition & Dietetics, 69, 198-202.
Sarah Koszyk is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach at Eating Free, an online adult weight management program. She also provides in-person nutrition coaching at a private practice, MV Nutrition, in San Francisco, CA, where she specializes in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. She is the founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. A family-based wellness program and blog. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.