Personalized Diets: Can Your Genes Really Tell You What to Eat?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The idea that our genes contain the blueprint for personalized nutrition is the driving force behind personalized nutrition testing. Websites and food companies are currently proliferating such as Nutrigenomix, Profile Precise, and Habit to name a few who provide these personalized services. But, is this true? Well, the answer is not straightforward. But, here are a few details on the idea behind genes and diets.

Personalized Testing Pairs Genes With Nutritional Needs

So, what is personalized testing for? In one article, a writer tried Habit. And the first step in the process is getting tested. You can do it yourself with the use of an at-home test kit for DNA and blood samples. Blood samples are taken twice. The first time is before drinking a high fat and sugary test drink and the second one is after taking the drink.

Then the samples are analyzed and based on the results you will be categorized into one of the seven diet types. Examples of which are range seeker, balance seeker, protein seeker, and fat seeker to name a few.

With the writer’s results, she was analyzed as a protein seeker which meant that her diet should consist more of high protein than any other food group. Other details are also included in the report, which would give you great insights into your personalized diet as well as further cementing your theories about your food response. As an example, the writer’s detailed report confirmed her thoughts on caffeine—that she has a gene variant that makes her sensitive to caffeinated food and drinks.

The high sugar drink acts as a fasting blood test, although it tests a person’s glucose response, it is not a test based on DNA. Further, the test also studies the FTO gene which is linked to weight gain in people who have this gene variant.

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Systems Approach

Based on the example above, the personalized testing is not merely based on genes. It is a systems approach that is integrated together, and from there, each is given a customized recommendation.

The idea behind these personalized testing is that it gives people reliable evidence of what their body is currently experiencing. And these values can be instrumental in helping them to rein in their food urges and resist temptation—and maybe even embrace a healthy lifestyle.

Experts Take

Plenty of experts have pointed out that when it comes to pieces of advice on diets, it is quite deceiving to say that our genes are the blueprint because they are not. Although DNA does influence our weight, it is minimal. Our DNA cannot ever dictate to us when it comes to eating that piece of moist and delicious cake. It’s your behavior towards food that dictates which food you put into your body. According to studies, genes only account for five to ten percent of the risk connected with diseases related to diets like type-2 diabetes and obesity.

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Personalized Nutrition Is Trying to Reach The Masses

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Personalized nutrition is one of the newest ideas catching the eyes of consumers and the big food companies. In theory, it seems like the next big thing to overtake the healthy eating marketplace. However, there are a few hurdles that innovators are battling for this concept to reach the mainstream. Consumer knowledge about their personalized nutrition needs, food manufacturing, and distribution are going to need to change to make this a reality.

Habit: The Startup Company Leading Personalized Nutrition

Habit, a San Francisco-based company, is offering personalized nutrition through genetic testing. The big food company, Campbell’s Soup, has been following closely and recently invested in the startup.

Habit is structuring itself as a personalized nutrition meal delivery startup. They take information gathered from an at-home test kit to create specific meals to meet customers’ needs. At the moment, Habit’s business model is a little expensive for the average consumer. It costs $249 to receive the personalized test kit, results, and advice from nutrition coaches. On top of the $249, each meal will cost you $8.99 for breakfast and $13.50 for lunch and dinner meals. Without a significant technological change to food development and distribution, personalized nutrition appears to be a luxury in the short term.

3-D Food Printing Could Be The Solution

As mentioned earlier, consumer knowledge on food development and distribution would need to change in a significant way for personalized nutrition to reach the masses. 3-D food printing could be the groundbreaking technology to make it possible. If 3-D printers could become as regular as microwaves, they could completely change the way consumers prepare food at home.

Big food companies like PepsiCo are already testing 3D printing to create prototypes of different shaped and colored chips. Other firms like Barilla have used 3-D food printing to make pasta that is shaped like a rose. The number of obstacles facing the industry are still there, but the future looks bright for personalized nutrition.

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