I recently had a client sum up his last three decades this way: “In our twenties all our friends got married, in our thirties we all had kids, in our forties we’re all on diets.”
It’s true – everyone seems to be on a diet these days. With so many to choose from, it can be challenging to find effective ways to improve health through nutrition. As a dietitian, I’m always asked which diet works best. Here’s the truth: none of them.
The problem with diets is they typically offer broad, short-term solutions rather than a personalized, realistic long-term plan. Dietitians teach people how to eat, not how to diet. As part of the new Precision Health program, a new genetic test offered at Copeman helps our care teams individualize treatment plans in a way that’s specific to each client’s genes – it’s called Nutrigenomix®.
A Nutrigenomix® report will indicate how an individual’s body metabolizes certain nutrients. By understanding your genetic profile and your unique response to food, you can make more informed choices when it comes to personalizing your diet.
3 things you might want to learn from a Nutrigenomix test:
- Caffeine can be good or bad – depending on your genes!
Research on caffeine and cardiovascular health has yielded varying results; some studies show caffeine increases risk of heart disease, some show it has no effect and some even show it reduces heart disease risk. This can be frustrating and confusing when you just want to know how much to have.
About 50 percent of people possess a genetic variant that slows down caffeine metabolism. If you’re a slow metabolizer, you’re at a greater risk of high blood pressure and heart attack when caffeine intake is more than 200 mg – that’s about an eight-ounce cup of coffee and less than Health Canada’s two-cups-a-day maximum recommendations. When a heart attack is on the line, isn’t it worth resisting that second cup?
Alternatively, some people possess a genetic variant that lowers their risk of heart disease with moderate coffee consumption (two to three cups) when compared to people who consume no coffee at all.
- You can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by consuming more whole grains
Low-carb diets have been popular for years based on the thinking that cutting carbs will result in weight loss and lowered risk of developing chronic disease, like diabetes. However, 50 percent of the general population have the high-risk genetic variant of the TCF7L2 gene. For these people, consuming more carbs – specifically whole grains – can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
So instead of cutting refined white rice, pasta and bread, replace it with whole grains varieties like wild rice, quinoa, bulgur, whole wheat pasta and bread.
- While not a diagnostic tool, you can test your genes for lactose and gluten intolerance
If you have a lactose intolerance, you likely know and found out the hard way. But some lactose-containing foods may trigger symptoms and others may not because different genetic variants exist for a “slightly elevated” risk of lactose intolerance and a “high risk” of intolerance. If your risk is only slightly elevated, symptoms might be kept at bay with a smaller serving.
Someone with suspected celiac disease will likely cut gluten from their diet to relieve symptoms. This can create confusion when they seek out a diagnosis because antibody testing is sensitive to gluten intake – a positive confirmation of celiac serology testing only works on people who have a gluten-containing diet. Therefore, if someone has eliminated gluten from their diet, they may generate a false-negative result. With genetic testing, dietary gluten intake won’t affect the results, making it a great first step toward diagnosis.