Diary of a Student Nutritionist - Week 2 - Nutrigenomics and Detoxification

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Nutrigenomics and Detoxification

This was a really cool lecture and the lecturer was really fascinating! We were exploring the world of nutrigenomics:

'the study of the interaction of nutrition and genes, especially with regard to the prevention or treatment of disease'.

This is where a nutritionist can test a clients genetics and look for things called genetic SNPs which are where a person's genetic sequence for certain enzymes or proteins are out of order and therefore have a different effect. Sometimes these SNPs can be a positive evolutionary change such as slowing an enzyme within your body that if it was working efficiently could in fact have a negative effect, for example, CYP1B1 is an enzyme that will make oestrogen carcinogenic. Therefore a genetic SNP will be a good thing as it will slow this pathway down. A genetic SNP on GSTM1 however will mean that your liver is unable to efficiently remove toxic chemicals from your body, such as cigarette smoke, certain drugs, pesticides on food, beauty products, etc. This person may become very unwell depending on how overloaded their system is and start to develop a number of symptoms related to being toxic, such as poor concentration, hormonal imbalances, acne.....and so on.

A nutritionist ran a genetic test on me about 5 years ago now and at the time I did not really understand its significance. I have had it stored away since and gone on to try and find out why I was so unwell. I used lots of other tests such as heavy metal, mould and stool to work out what might be going on with my body and now I have got the test back out again I am a little shocked. It largely tells me everything I need to know about why my body was struggling from detox issues to poorly converting vitamins and minerals.

'I can now very much see that this is something I will encourage my clients to run when they first start seeing me as it will allow me to see how their body is functioning and what I need to support'

The great thing is that your genes (according to our understanding right now) do not change and therefore if your body always struggles to convert beta-carotene (a pigment found in orangy fruits and vegetables) into vitamin A then you will either need to always support the body with cofactors needed to make the conversion or take a vitamin A supplement (under the recommendation of a practitioner).

It is amazing how you can create a diet based on genetics to get the most out of the body you have. While also enabling you to see why your body reacted the way it did while others around you have a very different reaction to the same thing.

The final part of the lecture was on detoxification and it is certainly way beyond taking a highstreet detox tea or doing a juice cleanse. Detoxification is the process of breaking down and removing unwanted things from the body. It is carried out by a variety of cells but mainly those found in the liver where fat-soluble toxins are converted into water-soluble toxins and removed via the urine or bile. Toxins can also be removed via breath, sweat, tears, vomit, hair and nails. It is far more complicated than I ever knew before starting the course where I assumed the liver worked like a sieve when in fact it works more like a recycling centre with chemicals coming in and being redirected down lots of different paths.

There is so much you can do to support the removal of toxins from the body, both those made within us and man-made chemicals. You can reduce the number of chemicals coming into the body, you can support the movement of chemicals within your body and you can support the removal of the toxins out of your body. For me personally, this has had a significant improvement on my health and a lot of the things I do now were normal practice 100 years ago and have just been forgotten, while others are super new and super-advanced which is pretty cool.

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