Nutrigenomics of Vitamins + SNPs, Food Sources

Food as medicine gets closer to reality via nutrigenomics

Nutrigenomics of Vitamins + SNPs, Food Sources

Your unique genetic makeup could affect how certain foods nourish or damage your body, but researchers are still looking into the efficacy of following individualized diets. (Photo/Alia Ong, Stocksy United)

One day, you may walk into your doctor’s office and come out with a diet that’s been personalized for your unique genetic makeup. Your “prescription”: nutritional recommendations tailored to your DNA.

Nutrigenomics is a field still in its infancy but it could one day revolutionize the way we eat and how physicians direct our medical care, using food as medicine.

Cary Kreutzer, for one, recently found out from a 23andme test that she’s a slow metabolizer of caffeine — which, to be honest, she already knew. “If I have coffee at 2 in the afternoon, I’m wide awake at bedtime,” said Kreutzer, an associate clinical professor of gerontology and pediatrics at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and Keck School of Medicine of USC.

We need to help people take control of their health, better understand their health risks, and decrease the prevalence of chronic disease that plagues our nation.

Cary Kreutzer

She is part of a team at USC studying nutrigenomics — the nexus of nutrition, genetics and genomics — and she sees promising times ahead.

“I’m excited about this,” she said. “We need to help people take control of their health, better understand their health risks, and decrease the prevalence of chronic disease that plagues our nation.”

Nutrigenomics is about more than genes

Already, researchers are learning what is obvious to any veteran dieter: There is no one-size-fits-all plan when it comes to nutrition. One person may thrive on a vegan diet, for instance, while another person may wither without meat at dinnertime. Our preferences may all be dictated by what’s in our genes.

Some scientists are studying how nutrition may affect disease risk differently according to someone’s genetic makeup.

For example, some people might be at higher risk for cancer if their diet is deficient in certain nutrients (vitamins, minerals or phytonutrients, for example) or excessive in others.

And some nutrients help protect the body’s genome against damage caused by environmental pollution or smoking, but they may be less protective for one person than another — again, because of genes.

But just because people have a gene that’s linked to disease risk doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to get sick. First, the implicated genes have to be switched on or off, Kreutzer said.

Kreutzer had testing done with the genetics company 23andme for both herself and her son.

She found that she has a genetic marker — a single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP (pronounced “snip”) — that puts her at risk for diabetes.

Her son learned that he shouldn’t the taste of cilantro because he has a SNP that predisposes him to the herb tasting soap. But Kreutzer does not have diabetes. And her son s cilantro.

“While we may carry these markers, it doesn’t mean they have been activated,” she said.

Researchers haven’t quite figured out by what mechanism and when the SNP is turned on or off. But some people would to know if they are at risk for diseases or conditions that run in their families, particularly if they can possibly stave off these issues through early screening or modifying their diet. And in some cases, genetics can provide that information.

When it comes to food as medicine, what do we know so far?

Kreutzer cites the case of a woman whose genetic testing showed that she had a SNP linked to hemochromatosis. This disease causes iron deposits to build up throughout the body. It’s also a disease that can be treated, if detected early. So the woman was diagnosed by a physician and now has to watch her iron intake, limiting her consumption of red meat and eggs.

Other people choose not to know. Kreutzer teaches a class in which all of her students send off DNA samples for their own genetic testing results. One of her students had a family history of neurodegenerative disease, and she chose not to learn whether she carries the SNP for that disease. “I get that,” Kreutzer said.

She also noted a dark side to the rapidly growing field: companies that try to make money by issuing personalized nutritional recommendations.

They’ll try to tell people what’s best for them to eat their genetic profile, Kreutzer said, but the science is not yet there.

“Other than very rare diseases or conditions, we don’t know enough yet about nutrigenomics to be planning individualized diets this data,” she said.

What we can take away is that each of us is different in our need for — and our use of — nutrients in the food that we eat.

Kreutzer

So what can she recommend doing, at this point? Living a “Mediterranean lifestyle,” she said. That translates into a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and healthful fats including olive oil and nuts, and low in animal products.

She also recommends social mealtimes — don’t grab dinner alone or eat standing at the kitchen counter or in front of the TV. And, of course, get regular exercise and participate in other activities that are social and relaxing.

It’s still way too early to say much more than that, she said. But even with what scientists are learning today, our understanding of genes and nutrition is shifting and broadening. “What we can take away is that each of us is different in our need for — and our use of — nutrients in the food that we eat,” she said. “It comes down to our unique genetic makeup and lifestyle choices.”

More stories about: Diet, Food, Research

Source: https://news.usc.edu/157675/food-as-medicine-nutrigenomics/

Calcium and Vitamin D Intake Interactions with Genetic Variants on Bone Phenotype

Nutrigenomics of Vitamins + SNPs, Food Sources

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Personalized Nutrition Makes Dietary Advice Easier to Chew

Nutrigenomics of Vitamins + SNPs, Food Sources

Previously, genetic screening has only been conducted through healthcare providers, warranted on medical grounds.

Now, in an age where advanced high-throughput-omic technologies allow for cheaper and faster screening of the genome, consumer genomics is becoming increasingly mainstream and a growing number of people are opting to purchase genetic tests for a variety of purposes, including personalized nutrition advice.

Interplay between genetics and nutrition

The increasing volume of nutrition and wellbeing advice published in the media can be challenging to digest and makes it difficult to deduce exactly what makes a diet “healthy”.

Nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics are branches of science that have been propelled by the Human Genome Project (HGP) and aim to identify how we respond to nutrients our genetic profile (nutrigenetics) and how the foods that we eat affect our genome (nutrigenomics).

Variation at the genetic level, the most common form being single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), produce variations in the molecular machinery involved in nutrient metabolism across populations. Subsequently, different people show varied metabolic responses to the same foods.

The HGP has provided leverage for this field in that large sequence databases are freely available, listing thousands of SNPs that have been identified thus far and their impact on human physiology.

An array of companies such as DNAFit and Nutrigenomix utilize this information to provide personalized nutrition and diet advice, often available at the click of a button.

“If you can gain insight into your own genetic predispositions, it’s clear that you can make better decisions in order to maximize your health and fitness,” says Avi Lasarow, CEO of DNAFit, a personalized health and wellbeing company formed in 2013. 

Dr. Ahmed El-Sohemy, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Nutrigenomics, discusses the evidence and application of the science of nutrigenomics. Taken from .
From saliva swab to SNP profile

In direct-to-customer testing (DTC), obtaining a genetic profile couldn't be easier.

“The kits are simple to use, and, in most cases, you are required to deposit a saliva sample in a tube, seal it, and post it back to the company,” says Yiannis Mavrommatis, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition at St Mary's University.

What happens next behind the scenes is the result of decades of developments in genetic technology. “Your sample is then sent to a laboratory where your DNA is extracted from saliva and genotyped for the SNPs that the specific company has chosen to include.”

Similarities and differences exist across companies and institutions in their approaches to screening. Mavrommatis says, “The most common methods that are used in SNP genotyping are KASP assays and SNP microarrays. Whole genome sequencing and exome sequencing are more exhaustive and are also used in research but only within large projects due to their cost and the large data that they generate. PCR-based techniques are also popular in candidate-gene studies where only a small number of specific SNPs needs to be genotyped.”

In nutrition and genetic testing, the outcome of your report is dependent on the SNPs that the company or institution select to screen against.

DNAFit, for example, as part of its “Diet Pro” package screen a variety of SNPs to produce reports analyzing factors such as an individual’s carbohydrate and fat response, caffeine, alcohol and salt sensitivity, lactose tolerance, and celiac predisposition.  

What insight can our genetics provide? Nutrigenomix is the first genetic testing company to provide personalized nutrition reports used exclusively for healthcare professionals only.

Ahmed El-Sohemy, PhD, the founder of Nutrigenomix, emphasizes that understanding our genetic profile can help us to make informed choices about the food and drink we consume – choices that may ultimately affect our health.

For instance, in the study published by Nutrigenomix researchers in JAMA, the clinical implications of being homozygous for the CYP1A2*1A allele, and thus a “fast” caffeine metabolizer, vs carrying a variant, CYP1A2*1F and being a “slow” caffeine metabolizer, in a sample of 2,014 people was explored.

1 “We showed that individuals who are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine have an increased risk of heart disease, whereas “fast” metabolizers actually see the opposite effect and it may have protective benefits,” says El-Sohemy. Subsequent research has confirmed these findings.2 

Genetics can also give insight into how much of a specific nutrient or vitamin your body requires as its “standard” – an example being the GSTT1 gene and response to vitamin C. “Having a particular version of this gene means your vitamin C requirements differ.

The “risk” variant of this gene is found in about 20% of Caucasians, but in roughly half of East Asians. Regardless of what your genetic ancestry is, you still need to know if you, as an individual, have that risk variant.

There are other examples of other genetic variants that are common in various populations around the world,” adds El-Sohemy. 

Informed exercise choices to avoid injury

Insights aren't only limited to nutrition, but also can help you make informed exercise choices. Sporting injuries tend to occur when force is applied that exceeds the strength of the body part being exercised. However, injury can also result from underlying medical conditions or weakness in the muscles, bones, and joints. Typically, we only learn of our susceptibility to injury once the injury itself has been sustained. But what if injury could be avoided in the first place? “At DNAFit, we look at genes that are linked to the production of collagen, which is the main structural component of ligaments and tendons,” says Lasarow. “Variations in these genes have been linked to an increased risk of Achilles tendon, knee tendon, and shoulder injuries. As a result, if we identify a person with these genetic variants, we can give them advice on how best to mitigate this risk. This might be increasing the amount of specific shoulder strengthening work a person does, or by introducing eccentric loading exercises for those at an increased risk of an Achilles tendon injury”. 

Clinical applications of nutrition and genetics research

The World Health Organization (WHO) statistics estimate that in 2016, 1.9 billion adults over 18 were overweight, with 650 million defined as clinically obese. Genome wide association studies (GWAS) examine genetic variations across large populations. In a study published in Science, researchers conducted a whole-genome scan of DNA samples obtained in the Framingham Heart Study, where they discovered a variant 10kb upstream of the insulin-induced gene-2 (INSIG2) associated with obesity.3 More recently, a study published by the GIANT consortium identified 24 coding loci – 15 common and nine rare – across the chromosomes in 344,369 individuals from five major ancestries (discovery) and 132,177 European-ancestry individuals (validation) that predisposed them to a higher waist-hip ratio.4 The whole picture is significantly more complex than one single gene controlling a person’s lihood of obesity – interplay between genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle certainly exist. However, novel insights gained through personalized nutrition research may provide a much needed shift in the paradigm that a single diet is applicable to the entirety of the population: “When we consider that public health initiatives in nutrition (one size fits all approach) have been consistently failing to meet their targets, the personalized approach has the potential to substantially improve nutrition attitude,” says Mavrommatis. 

Overcoming challenges in a novel field

As with any scientific field in its infancy, nutrition and genetics faces challenges that it must overcome. “There are no clear scientific, ethical or commercial frameworks specific to nutrition and genetics. As a result, there are growing concerns about data protection and scientific rigor. A good example is related to the number of SNPs that each company analyses. Some companies (the more responsible ones) only genotype a small number of SNPs that are supported by appropriate science and communication of results is done by having experts explaining probabilities, risks and interactions with environment factors.  At the same time (and due to lack of regulations), a substantial number of DTCs include SNPs, sometimes hundreds of them, which may only have very little clinical value,” says Mavrommatis. “An international project led by the Quadram Institute in the UK is currently ongoing and its aim is to provide a platform for evidence-based personalized nutrition services. It is still early days, but this is a promising initiative.”

Nonetheless, researchers are excited to see where this field will go: “What we have here is a dream combination: on one hand we have DNA, the epitome of biological science, the most magical and powerful molecule.

On the other hand, we have nutrition, the most potent, modifiable environmental factor (we all have to eat and drink many times every day).

The fact that these two work together and we now start to understand this relationship, will reshape nutrition science,” Mavrommatis concludes. 

1. Cornelis, M., El-Sohemy, A., Kabagambe, E. and Campos, H. (2006). Coffee, CYP1A2 Genotype, and Risk of Myocardial Infarction. JAMA, 295(10), p.1135.2. Palatini, P., Ceolotto, G., Ragazzo, F., Dorigatti, F., Saladini, F., Papparella, I., Mos, L., Zanata, G. and Santonastaso, M. (2009). CYP1A2 genotype modifies the association between coffee intake and the risk of hypertension. Journal of Hypertension, 27(8), pp.1594-1601.3. Herbert, A. (2006). A Common Genetic Variant Is Associated with Adult and Childhood Obesity. Science, 312(5771), pp.279-283.4. Justice et al. 2019. Protein-coding variants implicate novel genes related to lipid homeostasis contributing to body-fat distribution. Nature Genetics. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0334-2.

Source: https://www.technologynetworks.com/genomics/articles/personalized-nutrition-makes-dietary-advice-easier-to-chew-318166

What is Nutrigenomics?

Nutrigenomics of Vitamins + SNPs, Food Sources

Nutrigenomics (nutrition + genomics) is an exciting new area of science that uses the latest research to create the best path for your health.

Simply put, nutrigenomics informs us which nutrients and foods influence our genes toward optimal health.

How?

By learning which nutrients switch on genes that activate essential functions and which nutrients switch off genes that cause health issues.

There is a lot of nutrition noise in our world. You only have to search the internet to find untold numbers of supplements and recipes that claim to influence health.

Nutrigenomics allows us to see past the noise of nutrition fads and advertising.

We can lift the body’s hood to see which systems make us vitamin-deficient or cause health issues and which genes are involved in those systems.

When we know the genes involved and which nutrients affect these genes, we can use nutrition to achieve optimal health.

In this blog article, I will describe the origins of this new field of nutrition science and describe more precisely what nutrigenomics means. You can learn more about nutrigenomics in my new book, The Genomic Kitchen. But first, let's go over two examples of how it works and see how you can use nutrigenomics to create the best path for your health.

We are taught that humans obtain Vitamin D either from the diet or by exposing our skin to sunlight.

However, many foods rich in Vitamin D are no longer eaten, or they are eschewed–such as liver, butter, and eggs (from free-range animals), as examples. Therefore diet is no longer a guarantee of Vitamin D ingestion.

But, getting enough Vitamin D (from food or the sun) is just the beginning. The Vitamin D you do get needs to be “activated” in order to do its job.

This is because the Vitamin D from food and the sun isn't active–it doesn't do much in that form. It's actually the Vitamin D precursor called cholecalciferol.

Cholecalciferol must be activated by being converted into the body-friendly form called calcitriol. This requires multiple steps with multiple enzymes in our liver and kidneys.

Each of these enzymes is a protein coded by our genes!

What happens if one of those enzymes along the pathway of Vitamin D activation isn't quite right? What if the gene that codes for it has a variation called an SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism–more on this below)? These genetic “errors” can impact the amount of Vitamin D available for the body to use–even if you are getting enough Vitamin D (precursor) from food and the sun!

Let's take this one step further

If you get enough Vitamin D and all of your Vitamin D activation enzymes work perfectly then your Vitamin D is activated. The next step is for the active Vitamin D to bind to special receptors in specific cells to do its job.

For example, one of Vitamin D's jobs is to help our intestinal cells absorb calcium. To do this, activated Vitamin D (calcitriol) needs to bind with receptors in those intestinal cells to tell their genes to make proteins to absorb calcium.

Those receptors in the intestinal cells are also proteins that are coded by genes.

If someone has an SNP (variant) in any of those genes that code for the Vitamin D enzymes or receptors, they will need more Vitamin D than others.

Nutrigenomics helps us understand how to navigate the unique biochemical circuitry of each individual so that we ensure the right food (or supplement) information is provided for your unique self. Vitamin D is one example of how one person’s need for vitamin-rich food is not enough for someone else, their genes.

Nutrigenomics is the science that tells us why and what to do about it!

Let's say you want to reduce inflammation, something I call fire in the body. You can use nutrigenomics to choose food that influences the genes directly involved in managing inflammation.

Let’s put this in perspective.

Knowing which foods work with the specific genes that cause or tame inflammation, we can plug the right foods in. This effectively dampens the noise around anti-inflammatory food and supplement claims and leads us to the specific foods and nutrients that work as anti-inflammatories for us humans.

Elderberries turn on the inflammatory TNF-alpha gene

When it comes to inflammation, we know that the allium family e.g., onions, garlic, leeks, etc. can turn off the inflammatory TNF-alpha gene.

Elderberries, capers, turmeric (especially the roasted root) and radishes can do the same thing! This is un simply taking a supplement that claims to tame inflammation.

Nutrigenomics gives us very precise information the information that food provides to our genes.

Now you see the value in knowing which genes that help and hinder our health, and the nutrients that influence them.

Let’s begin at the beginning with The Human Genome Project. This landmark research project completed in 2003 provided scientists with a blueprint of the approximately 20,500 genes that make up human beings. Think of it as a map of how humans are built. It shows us what's deep in our cells that make us unique: different heights, different eye colors, different risks for diseases, etc.

Genes are important to the framework and function of the human body. They hold a unique recipe for every protein and direct biological pathways in the body. One gene may make one type of protein, another gene will make another type of protein. It is proteins that make us who we are (physically).

Proteins are fundamental to life and our health. They lie at the heart of how our bodies function. They direct everything from how we are built and move, to things we don’t think about breathing and digesting our food.

Some proteins become muscle while some become hormones, enzymes, cell receptors, or bone, for example.

Completion of this important Human Genome Project gave birth to genomics, a field of science that tells us what genes are and what each of them does in the human body.

We know that our genes can affect our health because certain conditions run in families. Genes we inherit from our parents can affect the types of foods and nutrients we should eat. Perhaps we may have a food allergy, be lactose-intolerant or have celiac disease, for example.

But, now we see that it also works the other way around!

Science shows us that there is a two-way-street–our food and nutrient choices also affect our genes and overall health. This is the science of nutrigenomics!

Even though we may have inherited certain genes that code toward health or away from it, how powerful those genes are can be influenced by what we eat!

The role of nutrition is not in which genes you inherited from your parents–but rather, how much each gene affects your health. And if we can influence how much our health-promoting vs. disease-promoting genes work, imagine how much healthier we can be and feel!

Science now shows that nutrition has a powerful influence on how much each of your genes affects your health. Much more powerful than we thought.

The science of how genes are powered by nutrition is called nutrigenomics = nutrition + genomics. While there are many elements that provide information to our genes, such as stress, exercise and environmental toxins, nothing is more influential than food and nutrients. Nutrition is the principal source of information genes work with.

Nutrigenomics = Nutrition + Genomics

Nutrigenomics allows us to understand how the food we eat, specifically nutrients ( vitamins, minerals, carbs, and fats, etc.) and other components in food called bioactives (they actively affect our biology), interact with our genes and influence what they do. Up until this point, we didn’t know how powerfully nutrition influences our genome.

Nutrigenomics gives us new insight into how food actually works in the body influencing health at the gene level. Genes are the pivot that food interacts with to produce proteins which guide every aspect of how the human body works.

Genes hold a unique recipe for every protein your body makes. Every protein directs a function in your body. This is why knowing which foods and nutrients affect which genes (i.e. nutrigenomics) is a critical path to health.

Nutrigenomics has highlighted another way our food and nutrients affect our genes. The science shows us how certain foods and nutrients can stabilize our genes and prevent some SNP variations.

As we get older and are exposed to things toxins and free radicals our genes can make more mistakes.

So, by eating certain foods we can help our genes correct these errors, or create “workarounds,” and keep our proteins and cells (and entire body) in optimal health.

In a word, YES! Here’s why.

As you now know, nutrigenomics is the science of how food works with human genes. We share approximately 99% of the same genes with each other. After all, genes are what make us human. What differentiates us are those little variants called SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms).

These variations are tiny differences we all have in our genetic information that is used to create individual protein “recipes.” They can determine whether the protein that is created is functioning the way it should be, or whether it's not working to its full capacity.

Whether our Vitamin D activation enzyme is made correctly or whether our inflammatory gene proteins are turned down.

When a protein is not showing up to work on time in your body, or slacking on the job, it sometimes requires additional nutrient support from a specific food or even a supplement.

While genomic testing provides the clearest insights into YOUR unique gene blueprint, human genes respond to food the same way for all of us. The difference between you and I is that you may need more Vitamin D than I do. The bottom line is still that ALL humans need Vitamin D and all of us need those activation enzymes working as well as possible!

Here’s an analogy. Cars use the same basic mechanics to move.

Differences in the make and model of a car don’t change the fundamentals of how the engine makes the wheels turn! The type of fuel a car needs may change, but its engine still turns the wheels.

It’s the same for humans. We all need food and we all use it the same way. Nutrigenomics tells us which foods work with which genes.

The human body uses this same food information in the same way to perform the tasks of being a (healthy or not-so-healthy) human. Genomic testing allows us to pinpoint these fine differences and adjust your food approach to maximize the benefits you get from it. The fundamentals of eating and using food don’t change.

This is how we can use the science of nutrigenomics without needing to get a genetic test.

Nutrigenomics gives us a guide to the best food choices to make how genes work in our bodies.

It is for this reason that we created The Genomic Kitchen Ingredient Toolbox. Our Ingredient Toolbox contains familiar ingredients that you can immediately put on your grocery list and easily add to your plate. These ingredients are organized into a system we call M.I.S.E. The M.I.S.E.

system is rooted in the science of how food influences master genes that impact long-term health. Choosing these ingredients allows you to eat in harmony with genetic pathways associated with oxidative stress, inflammation, and metabolism and optimize gut health.

They allow you to start the journey of fine-tuning the biochemical circuitry of your body and eat in accordance with the language and flavor or human DNA.

To learn more about the best food choices you can make for your genes, click on the image or the right to download Genomic Kitchen Ingredient Toolbox Quick Start Guide

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  3. Sales NM, Pelegrini PB, Goersch MC. Nutrigenomics: definitions and advances of this new science. J Nutr Metab. 2014;2014:202759.

  4. German JB, Ziovic AM, Dallas DC, Smilowitz JT. Nutrigenomics and personalized diets: What will they mean for food?. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2011;2:97–123

Source: https://www.genomickitchen.com/blog/nutrigenomics

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