While we are more than 99.9% similar in our genetic makeup, there is approximately 0.1% of DNA which makes us unique. Changes in the sequence of nucleotides, also called polymorphisms, can cause differences in the character or amount of protein encoded by a given gene. This is reflected in many characteristics, such as eye colour, muscle structure, body height, body weight, metabolism of caffeine, lactose, fats and carbohydrates, needs for vitamins, etc.
In principle, all genetic variants are normal, but some of them have virtually no impact while others have a significant impact on our metabolism or even the risk of developing various diseases.
Genetic variants or polymorphisms indicate a change on a certain location of the DNA, where two or more different alleles can be present. Two unrelated individuals can differ in about one hundred thousand to one million genetic variations, but most of these differences do not have a significant effect on physiology and nutritional needs.
When we talk about genetic variants, we usually use the term genotype – which simply refers to the exact state of the certain genetic variant. For instance, we say that someone’s genotype is GG or AA. The genotype is part of the genetic makeup which, together with the environment, forms the uniqueness of each one of us.
Genes are parts of our DNA sequence which carry information for the production of proteins. They are located in 23 pairs of human chromosomes. Chromosomes appear in pairs: one comes from the mother and the other from the father. Thus, every person has two copies of each gene (with the exception of sex chromosomes in males).
One variant from a given gene is called an allele. The two alleles can be identical or different. We all have the same genes, it is just that some people have different versions (variations in DNA sequence).
Genetics is a scientific field that deals with genes – their molecular structure and function, their expression and occurrence in populations, connected to heredity and the study of the relationship among organisms.
Who and what we are is largely determined by our DNA. The DNA is essentially present in the nucleus (core) of every cell of our body. It determines our appearance, how we respond to environmental factors (e.g. sunlight, nutrients, physical activities…) and to a certain extent our behaviour too. Our DNA is unique – comparable to a fingerprint. In the whole world, no two persons have an identical DNA (except identical twins).
Our genes are certainly an important parameter. However, lifestyle, sport, nutrition and many other factors influence our body. Having performed the DNA diet test NutriFit helps us to make appropriate changes.
A nutrigenetic analysis is the branch of genetics that analyses how our bodies handle nutrients and can be used to create an individually tailored diet and lifestyle plan based on individual predispositions.
Some people are more susceptible to become overweight or they metabolise certain substances or nutrients poorly, for example, caffeine, nicotine or alcohol. Knowing this kind of information enables us to better understand our specific needs and act accordingly. If we know our DNA, we can turn this information to our advantage and adjust our diet and lifestyle to positively affect our health and well-being.
Nutrigenetics is a scientific discipline that studies genetic variants in our DNA and evaluates their impact on our metabolism and body characteristics, which influence our nutritional needs. Nutrigenetics focuses on the analysis of genetic variants that can be controlled with diet and lifestyle changes. Because each one of us has a different genetic makeup, our nutritional needs are also specific and unique.