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Nutritional genomics in healthcare practice today

Watch Melissa provide an overview of nutritional genomics and how medical and nutrition professionals need to have an awareness of the area.
MELISSA ADAMSKI: So while this area of science is not something that has been implemented mainstream in the medical and nutrition professions at this stage, it is an area that I encourage all healthcare professionals to do more reading on and make sure that you’re on top of the evidence. Firstly, the media are very interested in this new so-called DNA diet. How our genetics can affect our nutrition requirements, it’s starting to come through in some of our public health guidelines. For an example here in Australia in 2012, the Medical Journal of Australia released their position statement on vitamin D for Australians and New Zealanders.
And within that position statement, there is a section on how our genetics does influence the vitamin D status of our bodies. Now while this position statement does suggest that these genetic variations do play a role in our levels of vitamin D, the position statement does not provide us with any advice on what we should actually do with that should a patient ask us how they should change their vitamin D intake. Or what we can actually do about it if a patient actually does show that they have one of these polymorphisms. Another area you may come across nutritional genomics in your practice is the area of genetic testing.
Traditionally, genetic tests were offered through medical specialists who were trained in the specifics of genetics. However, now, patients and individuals have access to a wide range of genetic tests through many different avenues, including healthcare professionals who may not have been traditionally involved in genetic testing in the past and also online through biotechnology companies. We need to be able to critically analyse these test results and have an understanding if there is any usable information from this that we were able to apply to our recommendations for the patient. Another area of nutritional genomics that you may come across in your practice is the area of supplements.
And we are now seeing a wide range of supplements coming on the market that are targeting themselves or claiming that they’re able to support our DNA health. And it’s very important, as a healthcare practitioner, we’re able to critically analyse these supplements and understand whether they have any benefit for our patients or not. So as you can see, there are many areas of nutritional genomics that may touch your practice, even if you’re someone who’s thinking that it’s not something that you’d like to implement at this stage. Questions that I’d like to leave you with are what are the best practice guidelines in your healthcare profession? Are there any guidelines from your professional bodies in how to implement this into your practice?
Whether it’s something you use in practice or not, it’s very important that you stay on top of the science, on top of the evidence, so you can competently discuss this with your patients when they have questions for you.

Watch Melissa provide an overview of nutritional genomics and how medical and nutrition professionals need to have an awareness of the area to be able to respond to their patients.

Talking point

After watching the video, reflect on the approaches, attitudes and awareness of nutritional genomics of your practice, and then within the Comments, consider sharing with other learners your thoughts on the following:

Have guidelines for nutrigenetic testing been specified for the country in which you practice? If so, who is permitted to conduct/carry out nutrigenetic tests?

Don’t forget to contribute to the discussion by reviewing the comments made by other learners, making sure you provide constructive feedback and commentary.

Find out more

Go to the See also section of this step for links to resources that may be of help and interest to you. Accessing these links is optional.

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Food as Medicine: Food and our Genome

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