Figuring out what to eat can be a daily frustration. Whether it's because you're trying to find a middle ground between your heart, which is telling you to order the greasy option on the menu, and your mind, which is telling you to settle for the healthy option on the menu, knowing what to pick is a battle that may leave you ordering both, hoping that one balances out the other. Our bodies are weird, and figuring out what kinds of food we should be consuming isn't a one-size-fits-all decision. That's where one of the biggest trends for 2018 comes into play: nutrigenomics.
The word, which is a Frankenstein-like combination of the words nutrients and genomics, is a study that's gaining rapid popularity for the way it could influence individual weight loss and overall health.
"Nutrigenomics is the study of how specific foods and nutrients impact our genes and our health," says Paul Salter, Bodybuilding.com nutrition editor and the founder of Fit in Your Dress. "This field, which is still very new and growing, looks to learn how specific nutrients have different interactions in one person's body versus another, to help inform one of what he or she may need to eat, or avoid eating to improve their health across a variety of parameters."
Here's what you need to know about nutrigenomics.
It Can Be Used to Treat Disease
Dr. Lionel Bisson, a health and wellness doctor in New York City, told POPSUGAR that nutrigenomics has diverse applications in nutrition and medicine that includes treating cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
"In the last 2 1/2 years I have been using nutrigenomics in my practice to treat patients based on their symptoms and genetic studies," says Dr. Bisson. "Their genetic studies are used as a guide to recommend the right nutrition for prevention."
It Explains Why Diets Aren't One Size Fits All
What nutrigenomics explains is how some diets work for some people and completely fail for others.
"For instance, this field of study may help to determine why some people benefit from a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, while others thrive on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet," Salter says. "Essentially, it's studying the response to specific foods or nutrients at the cellular level."
The information we get from nutrigenomics allows individuals to find their own customised and personal diet plan.
"It's literally a road map to your body," says Mae Badiyan, a health expert and doctor of natural health. "Using information from their nutrigenomics, people can achieve greater results by eating foods that work well with their bodies at the level of their genes.
It Lets You Know What Foods You Should Avoid
Emily Bartlett, a holistic expert, and cofounder of Real Plans — a meal planning app — says that nutrigenomics helps people understand what foods to avoid so they don't distrust their own health.
"Take gluten, for example: if you knew your child was genetically unable to process it, you could help her to avoid a lifetime of digestive problems, inflammatory disease, and so much more," says Bartlett.
So who can benefit from this study? The easy answer is anyone.
"Everyone can benefit from the science of nutrigenomics," says Brandon Mentore, a sports nutritionist. "Once your genome is analysed and run through an interpretation engine designed to identify the nutritional SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that interact with your diet, you can customise your dietary consumption for health and vitality, disease prevention, and much more."
Badiyan does provide a word of caution to those interested in nutrigenomics, though.
"This is a developing field. We're still learning a lot, so nutrigenomics is not the golden ticket to curing and preventing all diseases," says Badiyan. "As with anything, it's important to have open and thorough discussion with your healthcare provider and make sure they're involved in your wellness journey."