What is the difference between nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics?
Nutrigenetics is a field of study that investigates the relationship between the genes, and specifically genetic variations, of an individual and how nutrients are processed, utilized, and absorbed.  In short, nutrigenetics is the science of characterizing a genetic variation and its corresponding impact on a nutrient requirement.
Nutrigenomics is the study of how dietary components influence genomic expression, metabolic homeostasis, and impact risk of disease within a greater biological system.  In contrast, nutrigenomics is the science of studying how dietary composition influences genetic expression and the corresponding impact on health.
At Rootine, we currently focus primarily on nutrigenetics as there is more study control and data reliability when looking at one gene and one nutrient. It’s considerably more difficult to control variables when considering how foods (when a single food contains hundreds of known and unknown bioactive compounds) influences genomic expression and disease risk.
Nutrition + Genetics
As more people turn to nutrition to improve their health, many fields of study examining the relationship between foods (and specific nutrients) and genetics are rapidly on the rise. These fields of study help populations and individuals understand gene-nutrient interactions to determine how their daily nutrition influences their health and disease risk.
Before we dive into the details of each science, a generalization of the difference between the two:
Nutrigenetics is the study of how genes impact diet vs. nutrigenomics is the study of how diet impacts genes. While they sound similar, conceptually they study opposite relationships and together provide important insights into how nutrition and genetics interact and impact our health.
Nutrigenetics is an explosive field of study that analyzes an individual’s specific genetics and corresponding impact on nutrient requirements. Since everyone’s genetic code is different, nutrigenetics helps to inform nutrient recommendations based on unique, personal data rather than generalized population studies.
By looking at and analyzing single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), slight variations in your genes that impact how well your body absorbs, distributes, metabolizes, and excretes nutrients, scientists can determine nutrient recommendations personalized to your genetic predispositions to optimize your health. SNPs can alter metabolic pathways and provide insight into nutritional choices to fill or reduce those nutrient gaps. Some SNPs also increase risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Some common SNPs:
- Approximately 85% of the population have SNPs in the MTHFR gene, which creates the enzyme that activates folate. These variations reduce the efficiency of this enzyme and carriers often need pre-activated folate.
- Approximately 11% of the population have SNPs in the VDR gene, which creates the vitamin D receptor and may result in a functional vitamin D deficiency. Carriers of this variation need approximately twice as much vitamin D.
Nutrigenetics can help us learn about our inherent genetic strengths and weaknesses and how certain nutritional choices can support our biology and help prevent nutrient deficiencies and associated health conditions. Nutrigenetics can be a powerful tool for doctors and dieticians to help patients achieve optimal diets via precise, data-driven recommendations.
Nutrigenomics is the study of how dietary choices and greater nutrition impacts human health through genomic expression. Nutrigenomics identifies and analyzes how foods (and their corresponding macronutrients and micronutrients) impact biological processes, including influence of genetic transcription and expression, and metabolic response.
Many studies and research have confirmed that nutrients regulate gene expression in many ways and affect the metabolic pathways underlying homeostatic control. This could help reveal how some agents in food can help prevent the onset of diseases such as cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
Nutrigenomics, like nutrigenetics, has many benefits. It can lead to a greater understanding of the role of diet in preventing diet-associated diseases as well as an increase in life expectancy. It can also lead to insights for population-based nutrient recommendations, such as if some populations react adversely to certain foods due to underlying genetic predispositions.
Exploring these relationships will lead to important developments as we continue to explore new ways to leverage our nutritional choices to achieve better health.
Rootine considers your unique DNA, blood, and lifestyle data when formulating your micronutrient formula. By researching, analyzing, and understanding how your genetics impact how well your body ingests and absorbs nutrients, we create a formula to help your body achieve optimal health starting at the cellular level. Get started with a membership today.
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 Mutch, D.M., Wahli, W. and Williamson, G. (2005), Nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics: the emerging faces of nutrition. The FASEB Journal, 19: 1602-1616. https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.05-3911rev
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