There is a proven relationship between the consumption of certain foods and their impact on health. For example, consuming whole grains has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. But not only what we eat is important, but also how it is prepared or processed.
Grind the grains to obtain refined grains, remove the germ and bran from the endosperm and lose this protective effect. It has been suggested that the fiber content of whole grains helps reduce the glucose / insulin response after meals, also decreases the concentration of total cholesterol and low density lipoproteins (LDL, the “bad cholesterol”) and improves the properties. functions of the digestive tract.
Likewise, although the consumption of meat provides proteins and amino acids, necessary for the correct growth and maintenance of the organism; High consumption of processed meat, regardless of its type (beef, pork or chicken), has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. In this case, it seems that the presence of sodium (table salt), nitrates and nitrites, as well as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) found in this type of product, could explain this increased risk for cardiovascular health. .
Of course, the balance between health and disease does not depend on diet alone, but is influenced by many factors. Although diet plays an important role and many chronic diseases they could be largely avoided by taking care of the diet and encouraging healthy habits. In fact, most of the common illnesses in our environment are due to inadequate diet monitoring, resulting in a significant loss of healthy years of life in westernized societies like ours.
Technologies -omics and Nutrigenomics
The effect of foods and their ingredients on health is due to their specific action on the functioning of cells.. Nutrients, directly or indirectly, are substrates of metabolic pathways and their contribution to the diet can modulate cellular metabolism, activate certain metabolic pathways and slow down others. For example, a diet rich in carbohydrates and low in fat stimulates the hepatic synthesis of fatty acids “de novo”. The body tries to compensate, as far as possible, the deficits or the excesses which one engages in the diet. Illness occurs when your efforts have not been effective enough.
Over the past 20 years, significant advances have been made in the techniques of studying metabolism, associated with the development of so-called high-performance post-genomic technologies. These new tools are able to characterize in great detail the molecules of our cells, their interrelationships and their regulation. Omics technologies have specific names depending on the molecule studied.
Like that, Mass genotyping, along with functional genomics, has made it possible to know the sequence of the human genome and begin to understand its function.; it is completed by transcriptomics which studies the expression and functioning of genes, proteomics which studies different proteins and metabolomics which studies metabolites, substrates and products of metabolic pathways. Taken together, these technologies help us understand a level of detail that was not possible before – how metabolism works and how it is regulated.
In this context, nutrigenomics emerges as the discipline which approaches the study of the effect of nutrients on metabolism using omics technologies. In particular, nutrigenomics studies changes in gene expression in response to diet, when we can understand the interaction that occurs, we are closer to designing more effective nutritional strategies to combat or prevent disease related to the disease. diet.
We know that not everyone reacts the same to a diet. Obesity is difficult to treat and in part because not all people have the same metabolic response to a specific diet. There are molecular differences between individuals, some encoded in DNA, in our genome, and which are responsible for the inter-individual variability that occurs when faced with certain stimuli, such as food. This specific part of Nutrigenomics is studied by the discipline we call Nutrigenetics.
SNP and nutrigenetics
Although the genome is almost identical to all individuals of the human species, there are small differences, inter-individual variations in the DNA sequence of different people. These different sequences are called polymorphisms, and can affect our appearance, metabolism, and health, as well as how we respond to a diet or strategy to fight obesity.
There are several types of genetic differences, and the simplest are point variations from one nucleotide to another at specific positions in DNA; is what is called single nucleotide polymorphisms (or SNPs, pronounced Snips, from the English single nucleotide polymorphism).
SNPs are the simplest and most common form of genetic variation, accounting for around 90% of all polymorphisms in human DNA, and it is estimated that there are around 10 million SNPs in total. Other genetic variations consist of deletions or insertions of fragments of hundreds of nucleotides. The impact of SNPs and the different variations that we can encounter depends on their position, the role that this DNA sequence plays, and can range from remarkable to almost imperceptible.
Let’s see the relevance that SNPs may have in the genetic predisposition to obesity with the example of the FTO gene. The presence of polymorphisms in this gene promotes ingestion, even without appetite because it affects the feeling of hunger and satiety. The risky variant also predisposes to the consumption of refined flour, sugar and sweets; It also promotes increased calorie and fat intake and is more likely to be obese than in people who don’t have the risky variant.
Finally, mention that FTO gene SNPs show interaction with diet composition, so that they can modulate the response to weight loss according to the type of diet followed, achieving better weight loss by proposing a diet adapted to the variant possessed. Genetic information, based on the characterization of SNPs available to us, as well as nutrigenetic information, i.e. the interaction that occurs between these SNPs and nutrients, is one of the tools of the personalized nutrition.
Advances in the knowledge of metabolism and its relationship to food, as well as the complex interactions generated between the genotype and the nutrients, but also their relationship and their adaptation according to the lifestyle we follow and with the environment that surrounds us, are crucial aspects in producing personalized nutritional recommendations, which promote health and contribute to the well-being of people.
True personalized nutrition aims to integrate scientific knowledge with the particularities of people (genetic and metabolic), adapting to preferences and lifestyle. This is now possible thanks to mathematical tools, defined by experts in the field, which encode these specifications and help prioritize the best options. This helps to make decisions (type of diet, diet, favorite foods, …), choosing the most appropriate at a given time and adapting them as you progress towards the proposed goal (weight loss , increase in muscle mass, bone mass, etc.) according to the individual singularity that each person presents.
Oorenji: Precision Nutrition and Nutrigenetics
Oorenji is a personalized nutrition app designed so that when using it you can easily plan your menu weekly personalized by knowing the recommended rations of each food.
Ooreji’s artificial intelligence algorithm takes into account the general and biomedical variables of the user (age, sex, physical activity or physical condition of the person) and genetic variables (this information is obtained through an analysis of ‘a saliva sample). You can download Oorenji from the official Android and Apple stores.
* Author: Dr. Francisca Serra Vich, professor at the University of Nutrition and Bromatology, has taught at the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) since 1990. *