The need for a good diet that sustains health, prevents and helps in the treatment of illnesses is an effort that has been in existence for quite some time now. All the same, the start of new technological tools of research has prompted researchers to conduct a thorough analysis of the multifaceted mechanisms that take part in the way the human body processes and reacts to food. Generally, this has influenced human health and the ultimate well-being of people in the society. Remarkably, the knowledge concerning the human genome has rapidly widened the scope of research in nutrition science. Nutrigenomics is a consequence of this emerging alliance that has been realized between nutrition and genomics (Müller and Kersten 2003, pp. 315-322). To be exact, nutrigenomics can be hard to define. This is so because it takes place with new technologies in health and with the emerging inquiries founded in science. All the same, nutrigenomics can be defined as a nutrition subspecialty that aims at understanding the manner in which genome-diet interactions impact on a person’s reaction to disease, susceptibility of disease and the health of the population at large.
Nutrigenomics research endeavors to comprehend the way nutrients and other components of food impact on genome expression although it may also include the way genome of populations or individuals may influence the response to a diet. Other than providing a general comprehension of the molecular mechanisms that exist in health and nutrition, nutrigenomics research usually tends to emphasize on knowledge and diagnostics that may be applied by subpopulations and/or persons to tailor their diet to prevent attacks by disease and enhance general well-being. Diseases like obesity are both influenced by the environment and genes. While obesity is becoming a major concern across the world, it is believed that the problem could be solved through nutrition technologies like nutrigenomics. In his report, McNally (2007, par.1) made a prediction stating that about more than 50% of the people in Britain will experience signs of obesity by the year 2050. Personalized nutrition is thought to be a very useful effort in dealing with the threat of obesity.
Nutrigenomics offers the promise of good health founded on the understanding of the nutritional needs of a human being, health and nutritional status and genotype. Nutrigenomics has emerged as a solution to obesity, type two diabetes and over-nutrition. The scope of diseases that can be handled through nutrigenomics is likely going to increase with the dramatic development that is being experienced in the field. Nutrigenomics is a preventive approach that seeks to ensure good health. The role of nutrition and diet has been and is most likely going to be exhaustively researched. To prevent the establishment of disease, the research in nutrition is seeking to investigate the way nutrition can maintain and optimize tissue, cellular, organ and generally the entire homeostasis process that takes place in the human body. This call for knowledge about the way nutrients perform at the molecular level. It includes a mass of interactions related to nutrients at the metabolic, protein and gene levels. This has been a continuous effort that began from epidemiology then to physiology and from molecular biology to genetics and finally nutrigenomics emerged (Garcia-Bailo et al. 2009, pp.69-80).
The development and emergence of nutrigenomics has been made possible as a result of the powerful research on genetics. This is basically the area that has advanced the role of nutrigenomics in promoting preventive health. The inter-personal variations in genetics or genetic differences which have an influence on phenotypes and on metabolism were identified initially in nutrition research. Later on, these phenotypes were defined. The main objectives of nutrigenomics also incorporate the ability to show the outcome of bioactive food elements on health and the influence of health foods on human health which should amount to the expansion of functional foods that will help people to remain healthy based on their personal needs. Nutrigenomics appreciates the fact that nutrients can interact and at the same time adjust molecular mechanisms that underlie the physiological functions of an organism. Based on this fact, the main role of nutrigenomics is to establish preventive measures to guarantee and sustain a healthy body (Kaput et al. 2006, pp. 5-11).
Nutrigenomics performs epidemiological research scaled on populations making use of genetic knowledge to establish scientific conclusions and informed nutritional recommendations that promote the well-being of individuals and populations (Godard and Ozdemir 2008, pp. 227-28). The field probes much in the connection between nutrition and gene to capitalize on the development of suitable health promoting personal diets. Nutrigenomics explains the relationship between genes and nutrition with a common eventual objective of optimizing health by way of diet personalization. Moreover, it offers a very robust approach to untangle the multifaceted link between nutritional molecules, polymorphisms of genes and the biological system entirely (Garcia-Bailo et al. 2009, pp.69-80).
With the help of nutrigenomics, it has been possible to point out biochemical disorders and their probable causes. They have been connected to their origin in genes. Having established such a fact, nutrigenomics comes up with a product that seeks to ensure that such a situation is not realized. As earlier mentioned, nutrigenomics plays a pro-active role in ensuring that the most likely diseases to be caused by the environment and genes are hampered. The genetic disorders that lead to pathological effects have easily been identified and defined through nutrigenomics. For instance, the polymorphism genetic disorder that is found in the hormone Leptin gene ends up in an obese condition. Others like folate metabolism result from human nutrition. With nutrigenomics, nutrients have been used as signals that make known a certain diet to a particular cell in the human body (Ferguson 2009, pp.452-58).
Nutrigenomics demonstrates that nutrients are sensed through a sensor system in the body cell. Such a kind of sensory system operates like a sensory ecology in a way in which the cell gets information by the signal which in this case is the nutrient concerning the environment which is the diet. This system of senses that construes information from nutrients concerning the environment (diet) comprises transcription factors as well as many other additional proteins. After the nutrient has completely interacted with such a kind of sensory system, it converts gene, metabolite production and protein expression based on the nutrient level sensed. This is how nutrigenomics has been used to deal with the complications and disorders that are experienced in the human body. Consequently, various diets must draw out different forms of gene as well as protein expression and even the metabolite production (Subbiah 2008, pp. 229-35).
The patterns of such effects as described above are the main descriptions that nutrigenomics seeks to highlight. They are called “dietary signatures.” These “dietary signatures” are evaluated in particular cells, body tissues and organisms and through this. The manner through nutrition impacts on the process of homeostasis is examined. The genes which are influenced by the varying levels of nutrients should be pointed out and then their control is studied. The variations in this control and regulation are occasioned by the variations that occur between the genes of different individuals. Generally, nutrigenomics has played a very significant role in determining the relationship between diet and genes (Subbiah 2008, pp. 229-35). This has been a very useful concept and approach that has been used to address many health problems through preventive measures put in place based on the scientific research between nutrition and genes.
Genome is generally the instruction code written into people’s DNA. These instructions tell the human body how to function. Ideally, most of the genome is similar in each and very individual. However, there are small variations in people’s DNA and these are what make a particular person unique and different from another. These differences are referred to as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and they influence all kinds of things like athletic performance, hair color and assimilation process in the human body. Nutrigenomics has also been used to impact on athletic performance. What is required is to understand the genome. With such an understanding, nutrigenomics has been used further to help people to understand the kind of routine and exercise as well as the changes that may be required to make maximize wellness. Common intelligence has it that a marathoner is most likely going to have success in a 100-meter race. The converse is also true. Even though it can be easy to envisage that the variation in genes is a chief source of the variations in athletic performance, pointing out the real genetic causes need a careful grouping of athletic traits and a thorough analysis. Consequently, individuals are expected to know that both lifestyle and genetic make up have the ability to influence health and general wellness in them (Stover and Caudill 2008, pp.1480-87).
Drawbacks of Nutrigenomics
Despite their inception into the world of health science and nutrition, a lot of research is still needed before the diets of nutrigenomics become an influential reality. The diet-gene interactions are believed to be very few. Based on this, it is also believed that there is not enough information that can amount to a specific useful advice. Moreover, it is also believed that there are fewer genetic differences that can be screened. Nutrigenomics can also be limited in the sense that prescriptions in the field will perhaps be different based on age and other physiological factors like pregnancy (Subbiah 2008, pp. 229-35).
On a different note, some of these nutrigenomics may not be useful in some communities and some class of people. The testing of nutrigenomic raises a lot ethical issues like whether the genetic profiling must be constrained to the wealthy clients all the time or it should be made available as a standard coverage of healthcare (Rawson 2008, pp. 23-36). There are some places where people may not really be fighting with cases such as obesity among other complications. Therefore, nutrigenomics may be limited to some geographical locations. Again, there is no empirical evidence that changes in nutrition based on the commercial analysis recommendation will cut down a person’s risk of developing a given illness.
Some researchers also tend to believe that examining a handful of genes from a hair snippet or a swab from the mouth and coming up with a plan of diet and a huge bill for the same is a waste of finances and the way is impulsive (Kaput et al. 2006, pp. 5-11). Nutrigenomics companies need to counteract to the allegations that they are making claims that are false. In the past, nutrigenomic effects have been said to lack in scientific accountability and may be deceiving the consumer. There is also the challenge of counterfeit goods that have no background in nutrigenomics but still dominating the market.
The current options for consumers are not that stable. There are still issues related to a scientific proof on their application and use. Some authorities believe that it is a mere rip off from the consumer. The nutrigenomics are not that relevant to the consumer. The products are mainly bought by the wealthy class and people with weight problems and family chronic diseases. They are also common amongst people with concerns about aging and diseases that are related to age. Again, people with a strong commitment to health matters happen to be among the main consumers (Stover and Caudill 2008, pp. 1480-87).
The Future of Nutrigenomics
Nutrigenomics has experienced a low impact in the past mainly amongst the middle and upper class citizens. It has previously been seen as an expensive fad amongst the consumers. Even up to now, the impact is not yet felt fully. Consumer education would be significant for the future of these nutrigenomics and the public health in general. However, nutrient-related diseases seem to be increasing and affecting people of all race, age and social class. Therefore, nutrigenomics might be potentially useful in the future. Nutrigenomics will have a very huge impact on diets in the future and in the society at large (Rawson 2008, pp. 23-36). It is expected that its impact will be felt in a wide scope ranging from dietary practices and agriculture to medicine and lastly to public and social policies.
Nutrigenomics is thus a science that has put together the relationship of genes and nutrition to come up with preventive health measures. The concept takes a pro-active approach in dealing with nutrition-oriented diseases like obesity among others. Nutrigenomics has been realized among the wealthy individuals and this has had a negative impact on their usefulness and influence. Well, the current inception and the use of nutrigenomics may be seen as an expensive fad but soon it is going to be a potentially useful concept acting as a standard coverage of health.