How Nutrition Impacts Your Genetic Potential for Health or Disease
What is Nutrigenomic Testing?
Nutrigenomics testing looks at how food (nutrition) affects one’s genes. The science of nutrigenomics provides a molecular understanding for how common dietary chemicals (food) affect health by altering the expression and/or structure of an individual’s genetic makeup. The basis for this new branch of genomic research is best summarized by the following Five Principles of Nutrigenomics:
• For some individuals, diet can be a serious risk factor
for any number of diseases
• Common dietary chemicals can act on human genes,
directly or indirectly, altering gene expression or
• The degree to which diet influences health or disease
depends upon an individual’s genetic makeup
• Some diet-regulated genes can play a role in the onset,
incidence, progression, and/or severity of chronic
• Dietary intervention based on the knowledge of
nutritional requirement, nutritional status, and
genotype can be used to prevent, mitigate or cure
Just as pharmacogenomics has led to the concept of personalized medicine and designer drugs, nutrigenomics is personalized nutrition. By understanding our nutritional needs, our nutritional status, and our genotype, nutrigenomics enables individuals to better manage their health and well-being by precisely matching their diets with their unique genetic makeup.
Your Body’s Personal Mechanic
While the term may seem intimidating, a methyl group is simply a group of small molecules, similar in size to the water molecule (H2O). Water is one of keys to life as are methyl groups critical for health and well being. Methyl groups are “CH3″ groups. They contain Hydrogen like in water and a Carbon like in diamonds or coal. However, these very basic molecules serve integral functions; they are moved around in the body to turn genes on or off. They are just as essential for life as water, oxygen, enzymes, minerals and vitamins.
Methyl groups are your own personal “mechanic” repairing and directing functions in the body. If you think about your body like a car then you have just one car you need to maintain over the course of your life with the help of your own personal mechanic. The longer you have that car the more wear it has. Over a lifetime the body can rust out; tires may wear or the engine may need an overhaul. Then again, the problems may be simpler such as adding wiper fluid, keeping the car filled with gas and changing the oil. Your personal mechanic ensures your car keeps running and stays on the road…in this case the road to health. If, however, your mechanic is unable to perform its duties, all these issues can accumulate, eventually leading to a breakdown. The rust may get so bad your muffler falls off or the tires become so worn it is impossible to turn without the fear of blowing a tire. In the absence of your mechanic’s ability to repair and maintain your car, the problems that arise may reach the point where your car can no longer function properly, if at all.
Proper functioning of the methyl pathway directing your genes is vital and critical for overall health. While there are several particular locations in this pathway where blocks can occur as a result of genetic weaknesses, we now know supplementing with appropriate foods nutrients helps bypass the mutations allowing for restored function of this pathway. By testing for mutations it is possible to draw a personalized map for each individual’s imbalances impacting their health. Once precise areas of genetic fragility are identified, it is possible to target correct nutritional supplements for these pathways optimizing their functioning of crucial biochemical processes. This support helps circumvent mutations in the pathway in a similar manner to the way you might take a detour on a highway. We can look at a mutation in this pathway as analogous to a collision that has totally shut down traffic going in one direction. Support to bypass mutations in this pathway is like taking an alternate route to avoid the accident. Thus, the use of key nutrients and foods bypasses methylation cycle mutations and restores healthy functions.
The Role of the Methylation Cycle
Understanding the methylation cycle is important when focusing on nutritional supplementation. Where mutations occur is defined by our nutrigenomic test making it clear where supplements can be added to bypass these mutations. One consequence of genetic weaknesses (mutations) in this pathway is increased risk factors for a number of serious health conditions. Defects in methylation results in a wide range of conditions including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, thyroid dysfunction, neurological inflammation, diabetes, chronic viral infection, neurotransmitter imbalances, atherosclerosis, aging, schizophrenia, decreased repair of tissue damage, improper immune function, neural tube defects, Down’s syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism.
Your Individualized Roadmap
Most disease conditions today’s have multiple factors, meaning a number of circumstances need to go wrong simultaneously for disease to manifest. Likening disease to a car crash…if the car wasn’t speeding, if the road was not wet, if the tires were better inflated, if the driver was wearing a seat belt…if you could eliminate any one of those factors then perhaps the end result would be different. So too, is the case with most disease conditions today.
Every aspect must be examined
It has been shown that multi-factorial diseases are caused by various infections and environmental events occurring in genetically susceptible individuals. Basic parameters like age, gender and other genetic and environmental factors play a role in the onset of these diseases. Infections combined with excessive environmental burdens can lead to disease when they occur in individuals with the appropriate genetic susceptibility. Whether the gene turns on or stays off has been shown to be influenced by one’s immediate living environment and the food consumed.
Personalized Genetic Screening
One definitive way to evaluate the genetic contribution of multi-factorial conditions is to take advantage of new methodologies that allow for personalized genetic screening. Currently, tests are available to identify underlying genetic imbalances (mutations) in an individuals’ DNA. By looking at these imbalances it enables one to make supplement choices based on one’s particular genetics, rather than using the same support for every individual despite their unique personal needs. Armed with this knowledge it is possible to utilize combinations of nutrients and foods to bypass mutations and restore proper function. The methylation cycle is a “nutritional” pathway. Any decreased activity causes a shortage of methyl groups that serve a variety of key functions like protecting your DNA.
What Makes This Test Different?
This test takes into account that each of us is unique and a one-size-fits-all approach to health is not the answer. It has been successfully used to help reverse complex health conditions such as autism and other forms of chronic neurological inflammation. The Roadmap to Health Panel includes 30 SNPs (snips) for a number of genes vital to the methylation pathway. There are multiple SNPs analyzed for each of the relevant genes. By analyzing patterns it is possible to discern relationships between genes that may not have been so intuitively obvious.
While there are other genomic tests available on the market, what makes this test special is its sole focus on the methylation pathway. The Methylation Cycle is the intersection of several important pathways in the body; the common point being the need for methyl groups. Remember methyl groups are simply small chemical compounds whose structure is similar to water. The ability to generate and move these groups is critical to health. “Methylation takes place over a billion times a second in the body. It is like one big dance, with bio-chemicals passing methyl groups from one partner to another” (The H Factor, Dr. James Brady and Patrick Holford).
Advanced Nutrigenomic Testing
The nutrigenomic testing offered by Genetic Profiling Systems, LLC focuses on genetic weaknesses. Genetic weaknesses which hinder the methylation cycle can lay the groundwork for further assaults of environmental and infectious agents. These may result in a wide range of increased risk for additional health conditions including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, thyroid dysfunction, neurological inflammation, and chronic viral infection, neurotransmitter imbalances, atherosclerosis, aging, neural tube defects, Alzheimer’s disease and autism.
Supplementation with appropriate foods and nutrients can bypass these mutations and restore healthy function of the pathway. Examining diagrammatic representations of the methylation pathway and relating the effects of genetic variations to biochemical pathways, it is possible to draw a personalized map for each individual’s imbalances which can impact their health. Identifying the precise areas of genetic fragility, it is possible to target appropriate nutritional supplementation for these pathways to optimize the functioning of these crucial biochemical processes.
Your genetics never change. Unlike genetic testing, biochemical tests change over time. Biochemical testing measures the amount or activity of a particular enzyme or protein from a sample of blood, urine, stool or hair. Biochemical testing can be used to assess the effect of supplementation on your system. Ideally, the goal is to use the knowledge of your genetics to make informed decisions on how to supplement and bypass weaknesses in your system. You can then use biochemical testing to monitor the progress of your supplementation to bypass mutations.