NTR 535 Nutrigenomics:
Nutrigenomics describes how nutrition and supplementation can alter the expression of human genes. A person’s unique genetic profile affects the way he or she responds to the nutrients in the diet. One’s genes determine how the body reacts to foods eaten and to the nutrients absorbed and processed from those foods. Nutrigenomics allows one to understand the foods and supplements needed to enhance gene expression and optimize health. Nutrigenomics falls under the umbrella of what many refer to as “personalized medicine”. This new approach to medicine emphasizes treating the individual patient rather than the general population. It emphasizes the need to look more analytically at each person’s unique body.
I chose to take a course in nutrigenomics to align with my Grand Challenge theme of Health, as it is a novel approach to healthcare. We need new ways to conduct medicine in order to respond to the changing demographic of disease and sickness. Personalized or precision medicine is one possible way to address these concerns. Particularly, this course reflects the need to look globally at healthcare and acknowledge that different bodies respond differently based on genetics and ancestry. What works for one person may be completely ineffective for another person with a different set of genes. To understand these types of differences, we must study our global population and begin to understand how genetics differ between populations. Thus, nutrition is a global entity. We cannot dictate a set of “ideal” nutrition guidelines, as they do not exist. To engineer better medicines, as laid out in the Grand Challenges, we must understand how our unique differences at the DNA level contribute to overall health. There is no exact answer, but nutrigenomics allows us to take an individualized approach to medicine.