Genetic Testing Child Nutrition

Genetic testing offers benefits for children in many important ways. Some increasingly popular reasons to test a child’s DNA include to learn about about ancestry and future risk of disease.

One of the most exciting new applications of genetic profiling for children is nutrigenetics, which uses a person ‘s genetic information to create a diet plan that fits their individual dietary needs.

Nutrigenetics

All children need good nutrition and a balanced diet to stay healthy. Most parents work hard to ensure their kids are getting all the protein, minerals and vitamins they need to grow and develop. Every child has a unique genetic profile, however, and one size does not always fit all. Nutrigenetics can provide a practical guide to your child ‘s nutrition.

Nutrigenetics is the science of developing a personalized diet based on each individual ‘s genetic profile. This revolutionary procedure can help parents provide their children with foods that will give them the best chance to live long and healthy lives. Here are some of the ways genetic testing can help parents with individual child nutrition:

  1. Antioxidants: Antioxidants attack free radicals, and genetics determine the level of antioxidants that naturally reside in the body. Since free radicals affect a body’s aging process and immune system, children with low antioxidant levels can be given supplements to maintain their health.
  2. Bone health: If a child ‘s test results show a risk factor for loss of bone density, parents can offer foods rich in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients for the development of healthy, strong bones.
  3. B vitamins: Some people have a genetic profile that affects the way their bodies process B vitamins. Children who have trouble processing B vitamins can be given supplements to insure proper cell growth and health.
  4. Detoxification: Our genes affect how well harmful toxins are cleansed from the body. Children with this problem can be offered a diet rich in cleansing nutrients.
  5. Heart health: Many forms are heart disease have genetic risk factors. Parents can offer children at risk a diet designed for heart health.
  6. Inflammation: Certain foods fight inflammation in children with a genetic disposition sensitive skin and a tendency toward inflammation.
  7. Insulin sensitivity: The risk of diabetes can be reduced in children with genetic insulin sensitivity through changes in diet.

Genetics and Child Nutrition for Obesity

Parents are often blamed for overfeeding and under exercising their overweight children. Scientists have discovered, however, that the true cause of obesity often lies in genetics. A study of more than 5,000 twins between the ages of eight and 11 found that only a small variation in obesity between children was due to family environment. Here are some details of the study’s findings:

  1. Genes were found to account for 77 percent of the variation in body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference between individuals. Environmental factors accounted for 23 percent of this variation.
  2. Identical twins were much more likely than fraternal twins to have similar obesity patterns.

These findings do not doom children with genes for obesity to a lifetime of being overweight. Nutrigenetics can provide a way to “outsmart” a genetic profile for obesity. A 2007 study found that genetically personalized diets were effective in both maintaining proper blood glucose levels and long term weight management. Diets in this study were tailored to subjects’ individual gene variations effecting their metabolism and nutrient transport.

Diet and Changing Genes

The science of nutrigenetics has proven that diet can overcome what our genes had planned for us. The connection between genetics and nutrition, however, may go even further. Scientists are exploring that connection, and beginning to find evidence that over many generations, diet can alter genes themselves.

Our bodies produce an enzyme called amylase that helps us digest starch by converting it to simple sugars. Studies have found that people who live in countries where a great deal of starch is eaten have many extra copies of the gene that makes amylase. Those who live in countries with traditionally low-starch diets have fewer copies of this gene.

Researchers believe that natural selection is responsible for genetic adaptations to variations in diet. If this is the case, perhaps it is possible that diets designed to bring the best health to each genetic profile may lead to healthier genetic profiles in generations to come.

Resources

Bio-Medicine. (2008). Groundbreaking study proves personalized diet based on genetics leads to significant advances in long term weight management and blood glucose levels. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from the Bio-Medicine.org Web site: http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-technology-1/Groundbreaking-Study-Proves-Personalized-Diet-Based-on-Genetics-Leads-to-Significant-Advances-in-Long-Term-Weight-Management-and-Blood-Glucose-Levels-586-1/.

Feldman, D. (2007). Gene tests and gene-diet interaction. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from The Diet Channel Web site: http://www.thedietchannel.com/gene-tests-and-gene-diet-interaction.

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