The State of the Science on Nutrigenomics - Insights from the American College of Nutrition Personalized Nutrition Conference
Healthcare practitioners, researchers, and thought leaders gathered in Seattle from November 7-9, 2018 for the Personalized Nutrition 2018 conference held by the American College of Nutrition (ACN). The conference highlighted cutting-edge research in nutrigenomics with a focus on providing tools for clinicians to apply in their practice. Nutrigenomics empowers clinicians to implement truly personalized nutrition, and finally leave the “one size fits all” approach behind. Here were my top takeaways from the meeting.
When it comes to interpreting genetic tests, healthcare practitioners are key. Direct-to-consumer tests dominate the marketplace, yet many thought leaders feel that practitioners are falling behind. There are over 400 direct-to-consumer genetic tests available, which has undermined the value of these tests and could impact the quality of care given. Interpreting data as a consumer can be both overwhelming and intimidating. There is an opportunity for healthcare practitioners to show value of their expertise and explain genetic test results to consumers, including both benefits and limitations of the tests.
Therapeutic diets need to be prescribed with nutrigenomics in mind. We respond differently to different foods based on our genotype. Many practitioners in the nutrigenomics space view prescribing diets (Mediterranean, Keto, high fiber, etc.) without genetic information as flying blind, and strongly urge other clinicians to consider genetic testing prior to prescribing dietary advice.
DNA-based dietary advice is ready for prime time. According to conference presenters, there is now robust scientific evidence for many genetic markers. Furthermore, improved compliance is seen in randomized controlled trials for individuals following DNA-based dietary guidance.
Nutrigenetically tailored diets lead to better compliance and behavior change.Research shows that patients who receive DNA-based dietary advice compared with generic public health recommendations have a greater understanding of what they should eat and a stronger interest in learning more. This translates to motivation to change, with increased compliance seen after one year.
Though it may seem that nutrigenomics is completely revolutionizing the field of nutrition, researchers in the space view it as an additional tool to nudge people towards healthier eating habits. Overall, there is an increasing consumer awareness and demand for a personalized approach. Gone are the days of “one size fits all.” The future of nutrigenomics is now, and we at FoodMinds are excited to be a part of it.
Tara Linitz, MS, RD is a senior account executive at FoodMinds, a division of Padilla, in San Francisco