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Nutrigenomic testing: How your DNA can impact your diet

Personal health · May 6, 2020

Have you ever wondered why people respond differently to certain foods? Nutrigenomics is the scientific discipline dedicated to examining how that happens.

Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells that carry out various functions all governed by the hereditary material deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. DNA is what causes genetic variation in people – variations that can result in differences in the body’s digestion, absorption, metabolism and utilization of dietary components.

Nutrigenomics analyzes how nutrition and genetic makeup interact with each other to impact health outcomes and create these unique responses to beverages, food and supplements.

At TELUS Health Care Centres, we work with Nutrigenomix® – a biotechnology company based out of the University of Toronto – which analyzes 45 genes that provide information on responses to nutrient metabolism, cardio metabolic health, food intolerances, eating habits and physical activity. This testing allows us to offer our clients individualized dietary advice and a more in-depth way of looking at eating for health and disease prevention.

What nutrigenomic testing can reveal about your diet

A Nutrigenomix® test can tell you how well you respond to various key components of your diet.

Take caffeine for example: many of us love coffee and consume it daily. While it provides an extra energy boost to help wake us up in the morning, the amount of caffeine that a person can safely consume varies based on their gene variation.

The link between caffeine and heart disease has always been a controversial topic. While some studies have found that caffeine led to an increased risk of a heart attack, others could not produce similar findings despite similar methodology. However, more recent studies have found that the difference of the effect caffeine has on the risk of heart attacks can be better explained by people’s genetics1.

This type of insight can be a great discussion point for individuals looking for a more preventative approach to healthcare.

What the Nutrigenomix® test entails (don’t worry, no studying required)

The process of Nutrigenomix® testing is quite simple. The adult-only test requires clients to refrain from eating, drinking, chewing gum or smoking for 30 minutes prior to testing; a quick buccal (cheek) swab is taken and then given a confidential code prior to laboratory analysis. That’s it!

Once the data has been analyzed, your dietitian will review individual recommendations focusing on wellness and disease prevention.

It’s important to note that Nutrigenomic testing should always be used in conjunction with advice of a certified healthcare professional.

If you’re interested in taking a Nutrigenomix® test, or learning more about the test, please speak with your Care Centres registered dietitian or physician.

1 Whoriskey, P. “Four key studies that link coffee to heart attacks and hypertension.” 2015. Washington Post.

Authored by:
Anya Skornyakova
Registered dietitian, TELUS Health Care Centres