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Posted by Antoine Begin, LL.B., MBA, juin 19 2019
Health Insurance
Employees Well-Being: How Nutrigenomics Can Help

Nutrigenomics

What is nutrigenomics?

Nutrigenomics is a science that combines genetics and nutrition. It consists in using the DNA of our chromosomes to make dietary recommendations based on the unique needs of each individual. Genetics reveals how our body reacts to or uses certain nutrients. More specifically, these nutrients are digested, transported, used and transformed through the action of enzymes, which are proteins with specific bodily functions. An individual’s DNA contains the instructions for producing each of these enzymes. Variations in certain genes can reduce or increase the efficiency of enzymes. Read on to learn more about nutrigenomics!

Some people will eliminate caffeine quickly because the enzyme programmed for this purpose is highly effective in their case. Others will eliminate it more slowly due to a less effective enzyme, resulting in an increased likelihood of caffeine  accumulation,  thus increasing the long-term risks of heart attack and high blood pressure. Conversely, these risks decrease for those who eliminate caffeine quickly. Sodium, sugars, omega-3s and certain vitamins are also nutrients for which genetics can have a significant impact.

Specific genetic variations will affect either the effectiveness or the production of enzymes or hormones. This can have significant health-related impacts. For example, an insufficient production of lactase can cause gas, bloating and cramps, while an insufficient production of insulin can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Common nutrition interventions are generally aimed at treating rather than preventing a condition; data such as blood levels, weight and reported symptoms are analyzed to determine an individual’s current state of health. In contrast, nutrigenomics is a preventative approach that provides information on non-modifiable risks that could affect a person’s health. Whether a person is in good health or not, everyone can benefit from the information obtained through nutrigenomic testing. Combined with a comprehensive assessment by a health professional, this nutrigenomic information can enable people to make necessary adjustments to their diet in order to prevent certain conditions rather than having to treat them in the future.

The value of nutrigenomics in the workplace

About one in ten Canadians live with diabetes, almost one out of four experience high blood pressure and nearly one in three have issues with cholesterol (dyslipidemia). Individuals with these conditions may be exposed to complications that will affect their quality of life, such as cardiovascular, kidney or blood circulation disorders. These common conditions could be prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle which includes adequate nutrition.

Considering the early mortality rates associated with such disorders, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes alone represent an economic burden of more than one hundred million dollars a year in lost production nationwide. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the economic potential of preventive health is increasingly recognized. As many common conditions are hard to reverse, prevention is key. The information obtained through nutrigenomic testing can enable people to adjust their eating habits in order to prevent future health issues, such as diabetes and some forms of cardiovascular disease. This information also helps prioritize the required changes based on the relative risk associated with various nutrients and set objectives that are more relevant to each person.

Additionally, studies have shown that people are more inclined to commit to nutritional advice when it is based on their genetic make-up. Positive consequences have been observed in terms of their understanding of the recommendations, their interest in learning and their motivation in making lifestyle changes.

Offering nutrigenomic testing enables employers to stand out on several fronts. In addition to being actively involved in the health of their employees in an innovative way, they get a competitive edge that will help them retain their staff. As the benefits of workplace health and wellness programs have been clearly demonstrated and an increasing number of businesses are offering such programs, it is particularly important to propose unique health offerings.

In conclusion, it is clear that prevention is a key component of maintaining good health and nutrition is a big part of it. Due to its approach, which associates nutrition and prevention, there is a growing interest for nutrigenomics. Combined with coaching by a nutritionist or another qualified health professional, nutrigenomic testing is a major source of added value for a business that strives to establish itself as an employer of choice that stays up to date with the latest trends.

To learn more, contact a genetic specialist from Biron today.

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Antoine's genetics make him a slow metabolizer of CYP2C9 and TPMT enzymes. He would therefore experience side effects with drugs for arthritis and little efficacy for some cancer treatments. To his delight, however, he is a fast metabolizer of caffeine. Director of sales and business development at BiogeniQ since 2015, he has contributed to the implementation of various projects and strategic partnerships aimed at the adoption of genetics by the medical profession, by insurers and by employers.
Antoine Begin, LL.B., MBA