This marked the end of a scientific venture that began 13 years earlier in 1990. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA, the Human Genome Project was completed. The entire human genome had been sequenced, giving the world a full insight into the most personal thing to us.
Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is at the core of every human. It is the manual containing all the instructions on how to make you, you. There is growing evidence that your genetic code can detail your risks for cancer, alcohol dependence and even longevity. At Nell, we look into nutrigenetics, the interaction between nutrition and the human genome.
It is common knowledge that a healthy diet is a balanced diet. But, the issue with it is that it isn’t specific. It’s universal. When no body is ordinary, how can we expect a one-size-fits-all diet to work for everybody? Personalised nutrition has shown to reduce the occurrence of disease and decrease health costs. Nell uses genetic dispositions data, blood biomarkers and lifestyle assessments create personalised actionable insights into nutrition so that you create tangible change in your wellbeing.
So, what can DNA tell you about your diet?
Quite a bit!
Take vitamin D, for instance. Crucial for bone health, immunity and respiratory health, it is a nearly universal deficiency with over one billion people suffering from it. It turns out, if we have a specific genetic variation on the CYP2R1 gene or the GC gene, it would increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency. Such variations in these two genes significantly affects the body’s ability to metabolise vitamin D. What does that mean for your diet? Simply put, have a higher proportion of foods that are high in vitamin D!
However, your DNA is not limited to intolerances and deficiencies. It can even highlight your predispositions to certain tastes. At Nell, we test sensitivity to fatty and salty tastes, along with vitamin D deficiencies. Evidence has shown that a polymorphism in the CD36 gene (GG allele) leads to an 8x decrease in sensitivity to fatty tastes, meaning that carriers of this variation have an impaired perception of fat, leading to a tendency to increase the quantity of fatty foods consumed. Similar work has been done on the TRPV1 gene, which plays a major role in sensitivity to salt. Carriers of the T allele of the TRPV1 gene perceive salt at suprathreshold levels (i.e. more sensitive) than those with other alleles of the gene. So, depending on which allele you have, it can impact how much salt you intake!
Knowing your DNA means being aware of what your body baseline is. With this wealth of information, you can personalise your nutrition to cater to your body’s unique needs. If we start to understand the science behind what we were born with, how our current lifestyle is affecting our health and how to achieve our own health goals, we can make better, educated choices towards a healthier, happier life.