Food system

Nutrition and genetics

Nutrition and genetics

Nutrition is a fundamental pillar for health, especially for the most common diseases in industrialized countries.

The international scientific community agrees that nutrition is key to health, particularly regarding the most common diseases in industrialized countries.

Being nutrition essential for genes to work, precision nutrition (also referred to as personalized nutrition) studies how genetic variability has impact on each person’s response to the various components of nutrition.

Not only our genes (some 30,000) interact with our food, the million genes in our microbiota (group of microorganisms that inhabit our bodies) do as well.

Precision nutrition or personalized nutrition is defined as nutrition that adapts its strategy to an individual’s specific needs, including nutrigenetic and nutrigenomic needs

Precision nutrition as a public health tool

Personalized nutrition should be considered, now more than ever, a public health issue that countries need to be responsible for in order to face potential new pandemic scenarios. It has been scientifically proven that immunity and nutrition are related.

Jose Mª Ordovás is a professor of Nutrition and is considered to be one of the fathers of nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics. He is currently the director of the Nutrition and Genomics Research Lab at Tufts University (Boston) and a Senior Scientist at the IMDEA Alimentación institute (Madrid). According to Ordovás, the future of research in precision nutrition is to predict who will benefit from a dietary recommendation and who will not, in order to avoid blanket dietary recommendations.

In this scientific field, there is still a long way to go and much to explore, not just leveraging biochemical and genetic factors, but also all the information on our lifestyle that is compiled by our smartphone apps or activity bracelets (wearables).

A synergetic relationship between a sustainable food system and a sustainable healthcare system is needed. Global public-private partnerships must be made to achieve it. This could be precision nutrition’s great contribution: driving both systems together.

Nutrition is key to prevent diseases in industrialized countries—obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cancer. COVID-19 patients with poorer prognosis or who have, regrettably, died, lived with this type of diseases.

Poor nutrition prior to the pandemic has heightened the risk of large populations, particularly in developed countries. Not only is nutrition important for non-communicable diseases, it is also very important to prevent communicable diseases.

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