Free Press Journal

DNA-based diets finding favour with nutrigenomic doctors and fitness freaks


It’s time to look past the dietician-directed fitness regimen and get into scientific health mode. Tapapriya Lahiri explores how DNA-based diets are creating niche with nutrigenomic doctors and fitness freaks alike

Did you find the holy grail of preventive healthcare method in India? If not, DNA diet—a super specialised and customised diet charts as per one’s gene—is rapidly making a mark among the upscale discerning fitness enthusiasts. The food and gene interaction are imperative components that help build or destroy health. An apt nutrition-based diet can bring you in shape while assuring to accentuate your curves. But, have you ever thought that, why a sinful indulgence is making you some pounds heavier than your friend? It’s none other than your DNA, as genetic composition of human body varies from each other.

As genes act as a critical catalyst for determining the body functions, an endeavour of nutrigenomics—genomic science with nutrition par excellence—sets the tune of millennial lifestyle patterns. The days are gone to follow the generic diet charts prepared by the nutritionists or dieticians. DNA dietary plans are rolled out after a compact genomic research which is more targeted and understated for the betterment of health.

To execute a weight loss program after assessing the genetic test reports can bring a paradigm shift in the Indian preventive healthcare and wellness landscape. To get an upbeat know-how of DNA and to unlock the secret of one’s genetic code, Indian doctors and nutritionists are turning the table with élan to impart proper findings of gene based diets to create awareness. Prescribing fad diet charts to the patrons have become an absolute passé, rather they are gearing up to broaden the concept of DNA diet.

DNA dynamics

When sedentary lifestyle has become a great threat to genes, some nutrigenomic start-ups are working relentlessly to make a difference in fitness and workout regimens with DNA tests. No doubt, it is garnering deep interest among the consumers nationwide.

Dr Amol Raut, CEO, GeneSupport, a Pune-based nutrigenomics testing lab says, “As medical science is branching out, run-of-the-mill nutritionists can’t afford to advice patrons without going through an extensive training programme designed specifically for nutrigenomic counsellors.” While shedding light on DNA diet plans for weight management, Dr Raut adds, “Information stored in DNA (genes) can be used to understand the weaknesses and strengths of an individual’s metabolism. Every individual has a different genetic make-up and requires diverse nutritional and work-outs which is unique in terms of metabolic activities, irrespective of genders.”

Bangalore-based nutritional healing clinic, Qua Nutrition is playing an imperative role in imparting distinctive nutritional knowledge among the city discerners. Suhasini Vishwanathan, head of quality control in dietetic management at Qua Nutrition Clinics affirms, “Nutrigenomics is getting substantial attention as a science to monitor gene expression. DNA diets are very helpful in defining the measures we must take to keep diseases and deficiencies at bay. Since they are specific to each individual and no two people have the same set of genes, it gives an absolute tailor-made approach and challenges to work on each strategic nutritional profile. Unlike blood tests which could read the current statistics of a nutrient deficiency and allergen, genetic tests are specific to one’s genes and draw a permanent picture which helps to plan precise diet charts without assuming the best strategy, otherwise. There is no trial and error with the formula of DNA diet.”

The food and gene interaction are imperative components that help build or destroy health

Decode with genes

To be a part of a lifestyle game-changer and flaunt your fit moves, genetic testing is catching fast among the consumer audience. “Gene-based programmes are designed to assist practitioners and individuals to optimise their overall health by guiding and planning diet and lifestyle regime based on genetic differences in metabolism, lipolysis, fat absorption and other cellular nutrition. Hence, the gene-based diet works on the principles of personalised approach to one’s health” reveals Aditi D Sarkar, senior nutrigenomic counsellor of GeneSupport, Pune. Aditi also seconds, “Nutrigenomics recommendations remain consistent throughout the life, as genes don’t change and strictly recommends concentrating on cellular nutrition.”

Chennai-based preventive healthcare start-up Xcode Life Sciences is also making a shift in improving the quality of life through genetic testing and suggesting clients to revamp their mode of living, eating habits and exercises as per DNA findings. Co-founder Saleem Mohammed says, “When fitness industry is booming at a fast pace, cellular nutritional preferences are gaining importance, leaving aside the mundane diet plans. To get a precise hold of an exceptional field of nutrigenomics, we are educating consumers how DNA diet is transparent to a notch higher.”

“Nutrigenomics testing is done using samples such as blood, saliva and buccal swab. Cells from these samples can be used to isolate the DNA and check the presence of vital information in the genes. Similarly, this information is also present in form of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP), which essentially decodes the variations in individual’s genetic make-up. Such variations are recorded and its co-relation with metabolic activities are captured in form of a detailed nutrigenomics report which acts as a reference for dieticians, nutritionists and doctors to make relevant changes in the diet and work out plans,” shares Dr Raut.

Discerner’s talk

When information is filled to the brim in the web, application of scientific principles is ruling the roost in the fitness fraternity. A Pune resident and market research professional Soma Saha was quite overawed when she heard that DNA analysis is a permanent nutritional solution to stay fit and healthy. Soma says, “Being a workaholic woman, I need super-nutritious foods which suits my genes. I am researching about the recent developments in the nutrigenomic field in India and its progression and similarly, I am planning to meet the experts who can treat me well.”