By: Harrison Deisroth – University of Hawaii – Manoa
WYAO Hawaii collaborates with the community through one of UH Manoa’s Nutrition classes, Community Nutrition and Nutrition Education, instructed by Jinan Banna, PhD, RD, CDN to help students translate nutrition science into terms the general public can understand using blogging as their tool.
In 1848, the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach claimed that “man is what he eats.” One hundred seventy-three years after this statement, we can confirm that diet is a considerable factor affecting the health of humans; however, much of the media devoted to using nutrition to improve health doesn’t consider genetic susceptibility to disease.
Your genome – the 100,000+ genes passed down from your parents – reveals the hidden pieces to your health puzzle; however, up until the early 2000s, the medical genetics field was mainly concerned with single gene or chromosomal disorders like down syndrome. In 2003, this changed. The human genome sequencing done by the Human Genome Project made genetics a driving force in medical research.
For example, the National Human Genome Research Institute explained that previous studies into the genetics of diabetes risk had identified over 80 areas in the human genome associated with type-2 diabetes. Because of this research, new tests may detect “diabetes genes,” allowing consumers to identify if they may be at risk for diabetes and other chronic, preventable diseases.
Future nutrition professionals could use this information about genetically predisposed health risks to create individualized preventative nutrition plans for clients. This individual approach can generate more buy-in from clients and develop a more effective form of treatment.
Although the current use of genetic testing in nutritional intervention, “nutrigenomics,” is controversial, we should look forward to the advances in genetic research and their implications in future nutrition treatment.
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