We are certainly living in a world of personalised phones, coffee, cars even at our house, we all eat our breakfast cereal differently. Making dietary and lifestyle changes to improve your health and avoid any illnesses is for some not only difficult but also takes a lot of effort. New habits naturally take some practice and a little help, support and guidance (and knowledge) can go a long way.
Three recent studies have confirmed that providing individuals with personalised advice improves motivation and helps individuals understand the rationale for dietary recommendations to improve health and prevent or delay the onset of disease in comparison to general advice.
The first older study looked at overweight individuals who were provided with a nutrigenetic test in order to provide tailored and personalised advice (Arkadianos et al 2007). The control group consisted of overweight individuals who did not receive the test but did get general dietary advice. After 300 days the nutrigenetic group experienced a better long-term reduction in BMI as well as improved fasting glucose levels and better adherence to the dietary recommendations. Altough the study has some limitations, it does provide us with a view of how people who have struggled with their weight for a long time may respond to a more personalised and targetted approach.
The latest study was conducted in Canadian students in which they offered students a voluntary nutrigenetic test which looked at gene variants that are involved in carbohydrate metabolism, salt sensitivity, caffeine metabolism and Vitamin C metabolism (Nielsen et al 2012). The majority of participants found the results in the report understandable and were keen to learn more about Nutrigenetics. In addition, they expressed that the dietary recommendations would be useful when considering their diet. This demonstrates that giving personalised advice using genetic information is not as intimidating as initially thought. Individuals who want more information about their results, should have access to a knowledgable healthcare professional who can expand on the results and recommendations in the report. One limitation of this study is that all the recommendations were given online. In my experience of using nutrigenetic testing, clients benefit greatly from having their report explained followed by practical advice and strategies, easy suggestions and tackling the bigger issues such as reducing saturated fat intake through improved preparation methods and reducing consumption of processed foods with regular monitoring, feedback and support.
It seems therefore that a nutrigenetic approach may have a positive impact in terms of behaviour change and adherence to dietary recommendations. A recent study of Nature readers also revealed that 27% of readers changed their diet, lifestyle or medications following their genome results (Maher 2011). Whilst there is a lot scepticism with regards to nutrigenetic testing, from personal experience, customer feedback and now that the leaders in the scientific field are entering the commercial arena of Nutrigenetics, I can only see the field growing and thriving.
So if you are in need of motivation, inspiration or confirmation, you may want to consider working with a healthcare professional with a personalised dietary approach to optimise your health.
Arkadianos I et al . Improved weight management using genetic information to personalize a calorie controlled diet (2007). Nutrition Journal 2007,6:29
Daiva.E.Nielsen ., Ahmed Al-Sohemy.A trial of genetic information for personalized diet. Genes Nutrition March 2012 open access
Maher B (2011) Nature readers flirt with personal genomics. Nature