If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you understand the notion of how we are all the same but different. In light of this, we can assume that certain foods affect each person differently. 

Nutrigenomics is a branch of nutritional genomics. It is the study of the effect that food has in our genes. Nutrigenomics attempts to identify and understand the intermolecular reactions that occur between nutrients, food's bioactive elements, and the genome. 

Thanks to nutrigenomics, we have begun to optimise individual's health by implementing a tailor-made dietary plan based on their genotype. What this attempts to achieve is a correction in their physiological imbalances.

One useful finding that Nutrigenomics and DNA testing has made is the cause of chronic inflammation: food intolerance. This side effect of food intolerance can, over time, promote disease in patients. 

Food intolerance is more common than food allergies. The onset of symptoms is usually slower and may be delayed for hours after ingesting the offending food., but they can last for several hours and even into the next day.  Symptoms of food intolerance includes abdominal cramps, bloating, tiredness, and migraines.

Here are the five most common intolerances that often lead to chronic inflammation and other inflammatory disorders.

Lactose Intolerance

There are many debates around the consumption of milk and whether or not it is something we should do. The numbers are quite shocking. An estimated 70% of the UK population is lactose intolerant. 

All new-born mammals are born with the ability to digest lactose, a sugar abundant in milk. However, lactose itself cannot be absorbed by the intestine and must be broken down into absorbable sugars (glucose and galactose) by lactase, an enzyme present on the small intestine's epithelial cells.

What genes are involved in lactose intolerance?

Lactase (also called lactase-phlorizin hydrolase (LPH) in humans) is encoded by the lactase gene (LCT). Regulation of the lactase gene and the ability to digest lactose is found in a gene called MCM6.

The reading of this gene will tell you with certainty if the consumption of dairy products could be the cause of unwanted symptoms. 

These genetic changes emerged in the last 10,000 years within some populations. This coincides with the transition from nomadic to agricultural lifestyles in the time when cattle domestication and dairy foods became common. 

In evolutionary terms, this is called convergent evolution or convergent adaptation. Non-pastoral regions where milk products were not as popular included China (~1%) and West Africa (5%-20%). These populations developed other genetic changes that offered survival advantages based on their diet. 

Salt sensitivity

Salt sensitivity is a measure of how your blood pressure responds to salt intake. People are either salt-sensitive or salt-resistant. Those who are salt sensitive are more likely to have high blood pressure than those who are salt resistant.

What genes are involved in salt sensitivity?

Genetic variations in the ACE gene determine your responsiveness to sodium. About 38% of the general population carries an ACE gene variant. This variant causes increased blood pressure in response to higher sodium in the blood. Carriers of this variant are, therefore, salt-sensitive. 

Two other genes associated with salt sensitivity are NOS3 (related to cardiovascular disease) and AGT (related to Hypertension.)

Salt-sensitive individuals should pay more attention to dietary sodium to reduce their risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. They should monitor their sodium intake, limit high-sodium foods, and increase high-potassium foods in their diet.

Learn more about salt sensitivity here. 

PUFA metabolism

PUFA, also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids or saturated fat, comprises the majority of animal fat. However, the highest levels of saturated fat are from two plant sources: palm kernel oil and coconut oil.

What genes are involved in PUFA metabolism?

The Gene responsible for metabolizing PUFA fat is FADS1. Certain variations in this gene have been associated with blood cholesterol concentration. Individuals that carry the intolerant variation of this gene may require different amounts of dietary PUFAs.

People with this variation should increase their MUFA, or monounsaturated fat, intake and decrease other fats. PUFAs can cause inflammatory responses and lead to inflammatory disorders in the long term. In the worst case scenario, if coupled with your lipid metabolism gene variation and insulin response, the inflammation could trigger cardiovascular diseases.

 Coffee Intolerance

Coffee is among the most consumed, and most controversial, beverages in the world. If you love your coffee but are worried about its effects on your brain, I have good and bad news. The bad news is that coffee tolerance depends on your genetic predisposition to metabolise it. 

What genes are involved in coffee sensitivity?

The Gene responsible for metabolizing caffeine is CYP1A2.

There is good news for those lucky few who have a high metabolism. Fast metabolizers don't have a negative association between coffee and disease. On the contrary, if you’re a fast metabolizer, coffee could even improve your health.

Researchers have identified a gene called GRIN2A that appears to protect coffee drinkers from developing Parkinson’s disease.

However, only around 25% of the population has the gene variant of GRIN2A that can boost the protective effects of coffee.

Individual with a reduced ability to metabolise caffeine should reduce their intake. 

The intolerance may lead to increased risk of heart diseases if consumed in the long run. It is highly recommended that those individuals opt for decaffeinated options.

Nevertheless, the poison is in the dosage. A good quality cup of coffee now and then will never harm you. 

 Iron overload

What genes are involved in iron overload?

The Gene responsible for metabolizing iron is HFE.

The daily absorption of iron from the intestine is greater than the amount needed to replace losses in individuals with this variation. 

Since the body cannot increase iron excretion, the absorbed iron accumulates in the body. People who carry the genes for hereditary hemochromatosis could have no symptoms or signs, but it is treatable if detected early. 

Symptoms of iron overload include sexual dysfunction, heart failure, joint pains, liver cirrhosis, diabetes mellitus, chronic fatigue, and hypermelanotic pigmentation. 

Even though food intolerances are less severe than food allergies, they can still cause long-term damages. This is particularly the case if imbalances are present, adding more inflammation to our bodies.

Food intolerances are easily preventable. It starts by educating yourself about the foods you should avoid and how to optimise your health in the long term.
Many people ignore their symptoms and silence them with quick fixes, without resolving the source and the caused damages. A simple DNA test could highlight what you should avoid and what key physiological factors could be improved.

Let me help you educate yourself! Click here to get started and take control of your health today! Clain your complementary consultation.

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