We cannot change our genes, however we can (and do) alter the way our genes are expressed. This happens naturally through our interaction with the environment, our relationships, and through the nutrients we take in. As you can imagine there is continual research going into understanding this process more.
A new field of medicine called nutrigenomics is emerging and investigates the effect nutrients have on this gene expression. How and what nutrients turn on and off gene activity. The practice of nutrigenomics is essentially genetically specific supplementation. Individualized medicine in its finest form to date. The use of nutrigenomics can help us bypass or compensate for genetic mutations that are compromising proper function.
When analyzing genetic information to direct naturopathic care, we are looking at genes that are involved in an essential reaction in the body called methylation. One more famous gene involved in methylation codes for an enzyme called MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase). A large percentage of the population (40%) has a defect in this gene, which can lead to trouble with methylation. This gene (like all genes) however does not function in isolation. We look at several genes within these biochemical pathways to find the clues we are looking for to help explain and treat symptoms of disease.
The importance of Methylation
- Building DNA and RNA
- Immune function
- Neurotransmitter balance
- Energy production
It is now understood that many disease states are accompanied by poor methylation status. Working on the concert of genes involved in methylation improves a person’s ability to methylate which can translate into better health.
For the average healthy person, simply changing your lifestyle and eating good food is enough to optimize genetic defects that may be present. And of course these suggestions are first and foremost our recommendations before delving into the intricacies of methylation and other genetic information. If these healthy lifestyle strategies are already in place and good health remains elusive, genetic testing and the nutrigenomic approach to health might be the next best step.
As with any emerging field there are critics and controversies over using genetic information to target healthcare. As with any emerging field we approach it with great care and caution. This is in essence the future of medicine, for both natural and conventional health care. As we see this evolve we will see great advancements to current healthcare strategies in all fields of medicine.
For more information on genetic testing and nutrigenomics – contact us.
Dr Meaghan’s mission is to inspire others to higher levels of health and wellness. She does this by sharing the simplicity of natural medicine with the profound results of modern natural therapies. Her goal is to help determine the cause of a person’s symptoms and illness and work with them to achieve an optimal state of health and wellness. She works with individuals who are ready to take an active role in their own healthcare.