The Current and Future Role of Nutrigenomics in Human Health

Nutrigenomics is a field of science that merges two smaller fields for application and research purposes (Müller & Kersten2003, p.8). Genome refers to the collective physical factor in a human being’s genetic definition. This collection of genes is primarily contained in the chromosome.

Thus, the chromosome is the basic unit that forms the genome. A sequence of chromosomes spells out a specific string of code or information that determines a person’s natural physical attributes. In this essence, the genome defines the hereditary characteristics of the human being. It also governs fundamental processes in the human body (Cantor & Smith1999, p.5).

Nutrition is another field that deals with the study of food composition and its effect on the organism that is using it (Whitney & Rolfes 2002, p.4). Nutrition closely relates to the study of the conventional behavior of genomes. Thus, when the study involves the investigation of the two distinct fields, it is referred to as nutrigenomics. Different human beings react in different ways to the diet intake they are subjected to.

The cause of the varying reaction to the dietary ingestion is not well known up to date. However, it is known that genes have a relationship with the diet and always interact in an organism that feeds. Genes have a significant influence on the utilization of certain components of the diet, while the diet has a particular effect on the genetic composition of an organism.

In some people, the interaction between the genome and the dietary composition of ingested food has health implications in an individual. In addition, the nature and composition of the two factors are determinants of the likelihood of the development of some diseases, particularly chronic diseases such as cancer.

The exact nature and arrangement of genes in the chromosome and the arrangement of the chromosomes themselves are known as the genotype of the particular cell or organism in question. On the other hand, the physical and chemical characteristics that vividly display due to the information stored in the genome of a cell or organism are collectively known as the phenotype (Simopoulos & Ordovas 2004, p.101).

Since nutrigenomics reveals the effect of a particular diet on a person, the field is useful in determining the nature of the individual response to a certain dietary composition. This information provided by nutrigenomics describes an appropriate diet for a particular person.

Such a diet description can help control the development of chronic disease and guide the medical personnel and the patient through the process of recuperation. For every individual, there is a diet regime that is most appropriate in case of an effort to control a disease or to avoid the occurrence of the disease.

Although nutrigenomics is a poorly understood field, recent studies present specific effects of various chemicals on the genome. The chemicals are usually ingested during normal feeding processes, and the chemical is absorbed or rejected as part of the diet (Astley & Penn 2009, p.54).

One particular interaction between genes and alcohol varies from one individual to another, such that each individual has different chances of developing a disease due to the ingestion of alcohol. Moderate drinking results in a lower risk of developing a heart ailment.

Consistent mild drinking of alcohol results in a low level of a certain type of dense cholesterol. The particular type of cholesterol plays a key role in the development of heart disease. On the other hand, excessive drinking has multiple adverse health effects, including the possibility of a heart ailment.

Furthermore, not drinking at all could also contribute to the development of the disease. Although the different lifestyles of people with different drinking habits are thought to be possible causes in the disparities of occurrence of heart ailments, the interaction between the genome and the response to alcohol is thought to be that main determinant.

The allele that controls the enzyme that breaks down alcohol is of two types that randomly occur. The body of an individual who has one type of gene produces this enzyme at twice the rate of production of the other individuals with the other allele type.

The occurrence of disease in individuals with low metabolism of alcohol is less likely. In this way, individuals with low metabolism of alcohol are protected from heart ailment if they ingest a mild amount of alcohol. In this finding, alcohol and elicits a positive response from the body due to the genetic composition of the particular individuals (Müller & Kersten 2003, p.2).

A certain cytochrome enzyme is known to metabolize caffeine. Production of this enzyme is linked to a certain gene, which varies from one individual to another. The gene influences the rate of metabolism of caffeine. A complex effect is observed among individuals with slow coffee metabolism. While people with slow coffee metabolism have fewer cases of breast cancer, there was a higher risk of MI.

The overall effect of coffee on individuals with slow metabolism of caffeine is that the development of breast tumors was inhibited. On the other hand, slow caffeine metabolism poses a higher risk of developing hypertension. Individuals exhibiting fast caffeine metabolism obtained no protective effect from the ingestion of coffee.

Some investigative studies indicate that vegetables and fruits reduce the risk of developing a variety of cancerous tumors. In addition, unconfirmed findings indicate that high vegetable and fruit diet contribute to averting the possibility of developing cardiovascular ailments.

This is directly linked to the reaction to a phytochemical in the human system. The reaction is dependent on the nature of the genome of the particular person. However, it is not necessarily true that the intake of vegetables automatically leads to protection from cancerous tumors and heart ailments.

In another event, a certain syndrome associated with a particular allele is directly linked to the development of diabetes and obesity. The syndrome is present in a quarter of the human population. In the case of diabetes mellitus, a link may exist between the developments of the pancreas, which secretes insulin to regulate blood sugar levels and the syndrome.

Alternatively, the allele may affect the rate of secretion of insulin. The particular allele may govern whether an individual will develop diabetes mellitus in the future, depending on whether it causes the absence or presence of the syndrome (Campbell & Campbell 2005, p.34).

Genetic differences also cause a different preference for food substances. To discern the nature of this relation, genetics and nutrition have to be studied concurrently, and the relationship between the two established. The food substance is known as a bioactive in the scientific world. This phenomenon manifests through the discreet control of a sense of taste.

Polymorphism of the gene that controls the sense of taste is responsible for the variation of preferences of bioactive. The sense of taste discriminates against some compounds that are direct causes of diseases such that an individual avoids them. Not all people may reject these compounds. In some other cases, a rejected compound may be of use to the body if ingested.

Some other food that tastes like the beneficial types of foods may not necessarily result in beneficial effects on the body. Foods that taste bitter are likely to receive varying treatment form one individual to another. In some cases, the body senses the taste of the food and determines that the food could be harmful to the body.

A variation of the gene that controls taste offers protection to people against chronic diseases. The chronic diseases that are inhibited are those whose development is enhanced by the constituents of the particular food. This phenomenon may result in different reactions to vegetables in individuals

Obesity is one health problem that affects the modern human population due to the mechanization of most activities in the world. Obesity is a significant health problem in countries that are already developed. However, obesity is not wholly related to the amount of food an individual ingests. It may also not be linearly proportional to the nature and extent of physical activity by a person.

However, obesity is linked to the genetic composition of an individual’s genome, among other factors. In some female individuals, the energy-giving food is broken down in the cell to produce ligand, while it may also produce some other molecules that tend to attach to DNA strands.

Consequently, the DNA is not able to control the hormonal imbalance such as to provide the correct guidance to the body on depositing of fat and metabolism of excess fat in the body. If the dietary composition contains a certain substance that affects genes this way, its continued ingestion, even in small amounts, is likely to result in a clinical condition of obesity.

Nutrigenomics explain why one person will get obese despite efforts to control the amount of food ingested while another will stay slim despite ingesting significantly larger amounts of food, which may even have a relatively high-fat content

Nutrigenomics is not well understood even by modern scientists. The existing verified facts are few. The relevant authorities do not document other findings properly due to their failure to satisfy the minimum requirements for them to be regarded as scientific facts.

Even the already established facts are too complex for biologists to determine the exact processes they lead to specific outcomes. The only aspects of the phenomenon revealed by nutrigenomics are the fact that the phenomena are causal. This means that a certain type of genome configuration has a certain reaction to a particular nutritional intake.

The biologist is slowly realizing through study, that the field of nutrigenomics may have more applications in the future than it has today. Analysts hope that the field of agriculture, genetics, and health will change in the future owing to the increasing knowledge of the effects of.

The analysts envision that a new way of administering diet will be established such that the agricultural system adopts nutrigenomics as a way of determining the composition of the diet for specific individuals. Scientists also predict that nutrigenomics will treat patients of chronic diseases and disorders that are directly related to diet.

According to scientific speculations, the nature of genomes present in the majority of people in the population will govern the economies. The particular genomes that are found among the majority will lead to an increase in food production aimed at satisfying that particular sector. Several effects of the predicted outcome of the advancing field of nutrigenomics are obvious.

One specific speculation is that the nature of the genomics of the majority will determine the fate of food industries. Major markets will be choosing to stock products that favor of the genomes of the majority of people. Manufacturers of food will modify most of their products such that it fits the genetic requirement of the individuals.

People with financial abilities will have an interest in their genomes with the intention of purchasing food that provides an appropriate diet. In this case, nutrigenomics governs the direction of the economy since agriculture, and the food industry will rely on it. In addition, nutrigenomics will play a role in determining the general health of the populace.

The more appropriate the diet of the people, the healthier the population will be. Discriminating against some types of food in the early days of development may have a positive impact on some people’s long-term health conditions. Studies indicate that the primary diet of a young person affects the health of that person even at old age.

However, this selection of diet according to its effect on long-term health conditions may affect future preferences later in life. Individuals subjected to dietary selection may be unable to switch their preferences in the future. This makes a modification of the diet later in the future difficult (Kilgour 1976, 112).

The current food production is in such a way that the food is generated randomly. The estimated amount of each type of food is produced without the knowledge of the exact figure of the magnitude of demand. Future food requirements will have the possibility of estimation of a close figure.

Although one cannot estimate the food requirements of a population to pinpoint accuracy, a rough estimate will facilitate the production of food just enough for the population. This will have a significant effect on agriculture since the product will be predetermined prior to an anticipated rise in demand (Virgili 2008, p.75).

With the integration of nutrigenomics into the modern community, specific diet requirements of an individual will require that diagnosis to support the justification of the approved food regime. Prevention of chronic ailments and the promotion of health among the population will be the main aim of nutrigenomics.

This is because there is a need to justify a particular restricted diet for an individual. A restricted diet without a justified reason will be subject to rejection by people within a short time. Health reasons will keep people demanding for their specific food products to satisfy their diet requirements, hence sustaining the structure of the food market and agriculture.

The adoption of diets to conform to the developments brought by nutrigenomics will eventually shift the food supply from the normal supply chain made up of ordinary market vendors and stores. Health experts will be new food distribution agents. This is because the food will no longer be bought as an ordinary product but, but it will be a prescribed just like medication that is taken on prescription in some predetermined doses.

Some pharmaceutical companies have started selling some of the healthy food through their specially trained staff. However, the current sales are directed to the financially well-endowed people since they are the only ones with enough financial capability to purchase the food.

The current food promotion industry claims that food products have a significant benefit for their customers without considering the effect of their different genomes. In the future, it will be possible for people to get advice on the benefit of food based on facts supported by science. In addition, the prescribed diet will be only functional if it is formulated based on the science of genomes and nutrition.

Nutrigenomics will encourage the development of a new line of medical care services. This industry will specialize in determining the genetic composition of the human genome of a single individual. Prescription of the specific appropriate diet will have its basis on the nature of the genome.

The composition of food materials that are suitable for the particular genome will be formulated for a particular individual. However, some people may take considerable time to shift from the normal food selection criteria to the new criteria influenced by the demand of one’s particular genome.

While the nutrigenomics field will be aimed at averting the occurrence of many ailments and development of some chronic diseases, most of the ailments, particularly those caused by pathogenic microorganisms, may not be within the scope of the customized diet. This is because not all diseases relate to genetics, while immunity to disease directly relates to genomics.

It requires a new set of business alliances and cooperation between authorities to realize the new age of nutrigenomics. It is not possible for a single industry, say, the one that produces the specific diet food, to influence change around the world alone.

The company has to team up with other industries such as the biological studies institutions, health institutions, and include then relevant authorities to sanction various activities. Scientists in the field of genetic biology, medicine, and must cooperate in developing a system of diagnosis, research, implementation, and refinement of the field of nutrigenomics.

A prediction of the future health status of the world population indicates that the level of health standards will rise from the current curative approach to chronic diseases to a preventive approach. The dietary composition approach will also enable predict the likelihood of occurrence of chronic disorders (Tai & Gillies 2007, p.28).

Nutrigenomics is a relatively new field of science that seeks to explore the relationship between the discipline of nutrition and that of genomics. While both separate studies have been around for a long time, the idea of merging them has not occurred to professionals in particular fields.

Recent efforts to relate the two fields and find out their relationship with human health have bore fruit. Some viable solutions to existing health problems are definite. The field of genomics helps identify the specific requirements of a certain gene composition. This gene composition or genome is then matched to an appropriate diet.

Nutrigenomics is a continuous phenomenon undergoing changes due to emerging issues in science. The exploration into the field of nutrigenomics has just begun. The progress of research is observable in the ongoing developments and changes in the health sector, and the future trend of development of the field is predictable. Moreover, the conclusion of this development can be roughly envisioned as a healthier world population.


Astley, S., & Penn, L. (2009). Design of human nutrigenomics studies. Wageningen Academic Publishers: Wageningen, Netherlands.

Campbell, T. C., & Campbell, T. M. (2005). The China study: the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health. BenBella Books: Dallas, Tex.

Cantor, C. R., & Smith, C. L. (1999). Genomics: the science and technology behind the human genome project. J. Wiley; New York.

Kilgour, O. F. (1976). Multiple choice questions in food and nutrition. Heinemann Educational Books: London.

Müller, M., & Kersten, S. (2003). Nutrigenomics: goals and strategies. Nutrigenomics, 4(April), 1-9.

Simopoulos, A. P., & Ordovas, J. M. (2004). Nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics. S. Karger: Basel

Tai, E. S., & Gillies, P. J. (2007). Nutrigenomics: opportunities in Asia. ILSI/Karger: Basel.

Virgili, F. (2008). How does Nutrigenomics Impact on Human Health. Is There an Answer? 4 (March), 1-8.

Whitney, E. N., & Rolfes, S. R. (2002). Understanding nutrition (9th ed.). Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.

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