Today, I will talk about a new concept taking more and more place in “today’s wild world” of nutrition: NUTRIGENETIC.
Please do not be afraid of the word NUTRIGENETIC; it is quite easy to understand what it is all about; and as ZCarber’s, you will quickly appreciate the relevant role it may plays in our way of eating.
NUTRIGENETIC is the study of the EFFECTS of food on GENE EXPRESSION. It has for purpose to identify and understand, at a molecular level, the interaction between dietary bioactives substances and our genes.
A specific gene can be “express” or not, according to the food we eat, expressing meaning a gene can influence how a substance is absorbed, metabolized, its effects on our body and, finally, its elimination. The ultimate purpose of this type of research is to identify the single food/single gene relationship.
All this being said, the interesting part about NUTRIGENETIC is it may helps us to develop an optimal “nutrition plan” for the specific genotype (genes) of a one single person, optimizing health, delaying onset of disease or diminishing its severity.
The 20th century focused on vitamins and minerals, and macro elements like proteins, carbohydrates and fats, defining their role and dosage for preventing deficiency diseases. Sadly, this could not change the epidemic of obesity and diabetes we are now facing BECAUSE it did not consider GENETIC VARIABILLITY, the inter-individual differences.
For example, the gene that controls production of hormone LEPTIN (which cuts our appetite after eating) is easily affected by individual food intake; which means two persons can eat exactly the same stuff and still, one will continue to be hungry and eat and get obese, while the other will stop having food naturally and be of a normal weight.
Another good example concerning NUTRIGENETIC, is the one explaining why we have individual levels of tolerance to substances like nicotine, alcohol or caffeine. If one, for example, comes from a population with ancestral drinking habits, it is likely he will eliminate, and tolerate, more alcohol because of a change in his ancestors gene pool he will have inherited.
Our gene may also be affected, at one moment of our life, by a vitamin deficiency and have consequences later on: a lack of vitamin B12 may cause alterations of methylation of DNA at a younger age, changing it permanently, which may become the door to a risk of cancer in later life because of a modification of the tumor suppressor gene.
You may understand now the reason WHY one population may have done well in the past on a HIGH carb-LOW-fat diet, and WHY more and more folks in our countries, with a past of HIGH carb-HIGH fat diet, are getting sicker: their genes have been altered permanently and there is no way they can reset them.
In NEUTROGENETICS, nutrients are seen as SIGNALS that tell a specific cell in the body about the diet. These signals are identify by a sensory system that works through a network of proteins (probably in the number of 100,000). Once a nutrient is identify, it changes gene expression by producing or not some proteins, which can be, nowadays, identify by lab testing, and they are called DIETARY SIGNATURES. Having, or not having, a specific protein in your blood may help to identify any genetic predispositions to diseases.
At the end, all this knowledge help us to identify FUNCTIONAL FOOD that will keep people healthy according to their individual gene set-up. It is beginning to change the whole field of nutrition and dietetic practice.
What becomes very interesting, and Zero Carber’s are witness of this, we are discovering today’s RDA (recommended dietary allowance), which are designed for the general population using the UPPER SAFE LIMIT, do not apply for some genetic subgroups ON A SPECIFIC DIET. Just looks how we are doing find on a diet containing very low vitamin C?
All of this said, I think we can easily understand how folks like us are doing so well on a Zero Carb diet: because it is the diet that suits are particular gene pool. A gene pool, which we were born with BUT, also, a gene pool that was modified by old and bad eating habits. Sadly, we did not come to Zero Carb early enough in our life, as we all tried impossible “recommended” diets that all ended nowhere, BECAUSE they did not respect our individual gene-coded needs.
The diet-gene interaction is highly complex and it brings up the need for a “NUTRIGENIC PROJECT” the size of the Human genome Project, in order to identify genes that promote diseases.
Still, there is some testing available through some private labs; for example, you may have a dosage of your blood HOMOCYSTEINE, which correlates to your individual risk of a cardiac event. INTERESTINGLY, an high level can be CORRECTED by eating specific food or supplementing; as it can identify you belong to a genetic pool, like the Germans, which have a metabolic problem eliminating the said protein (will have high levels of HOMOCYSTEINE), or the Italians, which metabolize it more easily (generally lower levels of HOMOCYSTEINE).
I wonder when we will have a genetic mapping specific to identify WHO may benefit from a Zero Carb diet??? Well, probably, nowadays, a big lump of folks in our population...