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Nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics: the emerging faces of nutrition

This paper reviews the emerging fields of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics to explain how new analytical tools can investigate the link between diet and genes. Nutrigenetics studies single gene interactions, whereas nutrigenomics studies how genes interact with each other or with proteins and nutrients.

In the post-genomic era, nutrition is more than just eating well and getting a balance of vitamins and minerals — our genes significantly influence our nutritional needs and the way we process nutrients. The authors argue that understanding these fields is vital to improving nutrition worldwide.

An introduction to the basics of genomics explains how it has been used by pharmaceutical companies to create the field of pharmacogenetics, which has the potential to produce personalised therapies based on an individual's genes.

Some dietary links with illness — food allergies, for example — are straightforward. Others, such as in heart disease or obesity are more complex. The authors offer a fairly comprehensive overview of known links in both cases.

The health implications of studying the link between genes and diet are great, say the authors. For example, cancer or heart disease management relies on dietary modifications but patients often respond differently. A greater understanding of nutrigenetics could lead to better-tailored treatment.

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