For decades, research focused on nutrition believing that all adults possess the same nutritional requirements. They also realized that the nutrition needs differed for adults and children as well as between the male and female population. Dietary guidelines are formulated with the basic need of preventing deficiency diseases. This is also the principle on which the RDA works defining the quantity of nutrients required per day for almost all people to stay healthy.
Recent years have seen many research and studies performed on the effect of genes and gene variants on dietary supplements. Nutrigenetics play a prominent role in helping us understand the genetic basis of health and disease in planning a personalized nutrition chart. Nutrition specialists are becoming adept in understanding the information on genes, gene variants, diet, lifestyle and environment so that they can formulate nutrition plans depending on the genetic base of every person.
Pharma Industry & Gene Variants
Personalized pharma care was not a great hit in the past, but with the number of individuals dying every year due to adverse drug reactions, the pharma industry is gaining potential in this context. For different drugs, variants in drug metabolism genes or other genes that affect the individuals’ response to the pharmaceutical is measured. For instance, such pharmaceutical intervention is becoming increasingly seen in the popular breast cancer drug, tamoxifen. This kind of personalization in consumer goods and the acceptance of people to pay a high price to such individualizations is an indication that the market is ready to accept personalized nutrition to treat, manage or prevent specific medical conditions.
A classic example of personalized nutrition is the presence of celiac disease which calls for gluten-free eating. This disease runs in the family and carrying a gene for this disease does not establish the fact that the person is bound to suffer from it, but only means that the individual has a genetic predisposition to dietary factors.
The public is showing increased interest in staying healthy and well. By health, we mean continued state of soundness and vigor of body and mind. The food industry strives hard to fulfill the nutritional and health needs of individuals. Sadly, many consumers choose foods depending on their convenience, price, desire and appearance.
The question remains if public health can be improved with personalized nutrition practices. What would be the cost of such practices and would it be affordable only by the luxurious few? Any new discovery comes with its own pros and cons and so does the utilization of nutrigenetics/nutrigenomics in public health care. These include trivializing the role of genes in health and suppressing general healthy eating messages. Presently, people are not much concerned or are rather confused about principles such as ‘exercise more’ or ‘eat less calories’. But, in the long run, these techniques are the only ways to optimize nutrition for health and wellness.