What is “Nutrigenomics”?
Nutrigenomics is a cutting edge science which is enabling researchers to determine how specific nutrients and foods interact with and affect one’s genetic make-up. The practical application of the science is that this knowledge will enable the design of a diet that will be based on your dog’s specific cellular constitution in order to maximize nutritional benefit and minimize adverse biological and metabolic effects of specific dietary components. The specifically designed diet would interact with your dog’s genes at an optimal level without changing the genetic make-up. In other words, at some point in the future, you may be able to order a personalized food product designed just for your pup.
Nutrigenomics for Disease Prevention
In addition to maximizing nutritional benefits, a nutrigenomics focused diet could be designed to suppress the genes associated with certain diseases present in your pet. Different sets of genes are turned on (active) or turned off (suppressed) at any one time and the genes control what is happening at a cellular level in one’s body. Each cell in one’s body has a specific function, be it in the heart, bone, brain, skin, muscle etc. Changing a cell’s gene can then change the cell’s ‘destiny’, thus determining what kind of cell it will become (i.e. muscle, skin, brain) and potentially determining whether the cell will be healthy or diseased. Canine nutrigenomics could be the future of preventing diet-related disease such as diabetes, obesity and even arthritis.
How does Nutrigenomics work for diet-related diseases?
The first step is to identify the early phase signs of diet-related diseases in your dog so that nutritional supplementation can be added to return your pup to a healthy state. Different diets elicit different patterns of gene behavior, protein expression and metabolite production. Nutrigenomics describes the patterns of these effects, called molecular dietary signatures. Nutrigenomics analysis targets biologically active food components, reviews the molecular dietary signatures and leads to the creation of a tailored functional diet with foods that will keep your dog healthy in accordance to her specific needs.
Of course, each dog’s needs are different and a nutrigenomics designed diet takes these specific differences into account. Here are some specific examples of the effect of specific dietary substances:
- Some breeds like the Giant Schnauzer which are prone to obesity, commonly have a B12 deficiency. A nutrigenomics designed diet would include B12 supplementation.
- Foods rich in vitamins A, D, Zinc and fatty acids can directly influence gene expression.
- Dietary fiber has been shown to have an effect through changes in hormonal signaling, mechanical stimuli or metabolites produced from the microbial flora in the bowel.
- Just like in humans, the addition of vitamin E, beta carotene and selenium can reverse free radical damage.
- Omega 3 fatty acids can improve the skin.
- Oligosaccarides (carbs) and probiotics are good for GI health.
Obviously one size won’t fit all. As with functional medicine, compounded medications and bioidential hormones for humans, nutrigenomic therapy will be based on your dog’s life stage, body type and lifestyle. Animal nutritional professionals prescribe and recommend nutrients and diet formulations based on a specific knowledge of how said nutrients react at the level of the genome. These diets should be designed and tailored to the genome or genomic profile of your dog in order to optimize physiological balance, nutritional benefit, disease prevention, treatment and performance.