What is personalized nutrition?
Marketing loves to throw the word “personal” around.
Personal skincare. Personal dating apps. Personal supplements.
I guess…at McDaniel Nutrition, we like to use the word “personal” or “personalized,” too. But, we don’t just use the word. We value it. We practice it. We bring it to life through nutrition counseling with our clients. The definition of personalized is: “designed or produced to meet someone’s individual requirements.” Personalized nutrition is nutrition and health advice based on an individual’s data, such as, metabolism, biochemistry, and genetics. This leads us to the subject of today’s blog: Nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics is the study of how a person’s genes and diet interact. It’s about as personal as personal nutrition gets.
The Rise in Personalized Nutrition
The study of genetics has been around since the 1800’s. But, in the 1970s, nutrition-gene related research got hot. Fast forward to today, anyone can get access to their genetic data. It’s never been easier for consumers to access their genetic information and then support their health accordingly. No longer do decisions have to made based on “general recommendations for the most people.”
What Can I Learn from Genetic Testing?
It depends! Different companies look at a variety genes and related health outcomes. What’s crucial when you compare and contrast genetic testing companies is that the company only provides information on genes that are well-studied in the research.
Our genetic testing at McDaniel Nutrition includes genes involved with:
Your ability to lose and maintain weight
- is your metabolism likely to be high or low?
- could hunger and fullness cues impact your ability to lose/maintain weight
- does your body perform better on a high fat or low-fat diet?
- do certain types of exercise (strength vs. cardio) better support your weight loss ability?
- do you need more or less of certain vitamins and minerals?
- should you ask your physician to draw certain micronutrient levels?
- are supplements beneficial?
- are you likely lactose-intolerant or gluten-sensitive?
- should you limit your caffeine intake?
- what is your ability to improve your heart rate response, VO2 max or stroke volume?
- is caffeine an effective ergogenic aid for you?
- what is your risk for cognitive decline?
- are you more likely to have high inflammation?
- should you eat more omega-3 fatty acids
Genetic Testing Takes Nutrition Prescription to the Next Level
Nutrition counseling at McDaniel Nutrition is personal with or without genetic testing. You will never get cookie cutter advice or a standardized, one-size-fits all approach. That being said, genetic testing equips your MNT dietitian to provide an even higher degree of customized feedback.
A Genetic Testing Case Study: Emily the 1/2 Marathoner
To demonstrate how genetic testing can elevate “precision” nutrition advice, let’s take a look at Emily’s story. Emily’s a 35-year-old woman who was recently diagnosed hypothyroidism (a thyroid condition that can lower your metabolism, cause fatigue, high cholesterol, etc). She’s also active individual who’s interested in fueling her training for her first 1/2 marathon.
Prior to genetic testing, Emily and her dietitian used McDaniel Nutrition’s resting metabolic rate testing to evaluate her metabolic rate. Often with hypothyroidism, the metabolism runs a bit slower than expected. Emily also wondered about her need to go gluten-free as some research suggests a gluten-free diet could be helpful in controlling symptoms of hypothyroidism. Because a gluten-free diet can be restrictive, she was concerned it would be hard to meet her carb needs for training. Emily and her dietitian decided to not limit gluten at this time. They worked as a team to establish healthy, fueling nutrition patterns. They also created pre and post nutrition fuel around her long-runs. After their initial consultation, Emily expressed interest in the MNT genetic testing.
The genetic testing took about 3 weeks to get results, and at that time Emily sat back down with her dietitian. Upon review of results, Emily was empowered to find out that she does slightly better with weight loss when her carb intake is higher. This is great news for any athlete! At the same time, Emily’s genetic test showed a very high sensitivity to gluten. Emily and her dietitian revamped her nutrition plan to remove gluten and found other healthy carbs she could eat.
Emily’s genetic test also revealed she was likely to have low levels of folate in her blood. Folate is an important nutrient for women in their child-bearing years, so her dietitian recommended Emily gets some labs drawn. Low-folate levels were confirmed, and her doctor recommended a type of folate that is easier for Emily’s body to use. Genetic testing also showed she’s a fast metabolizer of caffeine. Emily started using caffeinated gels, and really noticed a benefit in performance in her longer training runs.
This quick case study scratches the surface of what genetic testing offers. Emily’s MNT Custom Genetic Report reviewed 30 different genes related to her health. At McDaniel Nutrition, for clients who’ve completed our genetic testing, our dietitians review their reports before every follow-up session. This allows them to keep in mind the unique needs of their clients.
Genetic Testing: One Test for Life
Unlike other tests such as metabolic rate testing, lab work, or microbiome testing, once your genes have been analyzed, you won’t need to do it again. Genes don’t change. While your genetic material won’t change, our behaviors and environment can affect the expression of our genes by how they’re read by the body.
It’s also important to know that just because you have a certain gene variation doesn’t mean you’ll have a certain condition, outcome, or problem/advantage. How we live our lives affects the activation and expression of that gene. Through this testing, you’re getting a better understanding about your genetic “potential,” not your genetic “destiny.”
But one thing is certainly true, you’ll know so much more about your unique makeup. Therefore, you’ll be more confident with every step you take towards supporting your health because…you’re using your personalized power.
If you want to learn more about genetic testing, send us an email and we’d be happy to talk about it can help you and your specific needs.