The personalised approach to diet may finally be upon us with the DNA-based diet of the future. A simple cheek swab might be the key to unlocking your health, and taking your nutrition strategies to stay young and healthy to the next level.
Research (and practical experience) shows us that there is no “one size fits all” approach to diet and lifestyle. Individuals respond better to a personalised approach versus population-based guidelines [1,2]. DNA-based dietary advice has been shown to contribute to greater compliance, weight loss and increased blood sugar control . We are all uniquely different, which is why when your best friend lost 20kgs on the latest diet fad, your waistline remained unchanged following the exact same eating pattern.
What is the DNA-Based Diet?
Healthcare practitioners with accreditation in nutrigenomics (the study of the interaction between genetics and nutrition) can offer to take a non-invasive mouth swab for DNA analysis. In just 2 weeks, your DNA is sequenced and the results are ready for interpretation and translation into a DNA-based diet plan.
Your personalised diet and nutrition approach will be based on one, or a combination of, four specific tests namely: (1) DNA Diet, (2) DNA Health, (3) DNA Oestrogen, and (4) DNA Sport.
What are the Tests?
DNA Diet is designed to provide the healthcare practitioner with the tools to design a personalised healthy eating program, based on the client’s individual genetic makeup. This test also provides insight into how each individual reacts to diet and lifestyle factors e.g. carbohydrate intake, saturated fat intake, and exercise intensity.
DNA Diet tests well-researched gene variations, which have an influence over metabolism, eating behaviour, and absorption and storage of fats and carbohydrates. Analysis and interpretation of these gene variations, allows for the provision of a dietary pattern best suited to the client. This dietary pattern will fit in with one of the three most effective healthy eating plans i.e. the Low Fat Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, and The Low Carbohydrate Diet, which will then be tailored for you by a Dietitian.
The DNA Diet test is however, not a diet plan, and as such will not contribute to weight loss unless translated into a healthy eating program by your healthcare practitioner.
DNA Health is the test for you if you want to know how to optimize your wellbeing and health. This provides guidance in terms of dietary choices and, where necessary, targeted nutrition supplements tailored to offset any nutritional deficiency based on specific gene variations. DNA Health aids your healthcare practitioner in establishing the optimal nutrition prescription for good health, decreased risk of disease, and longevity.
DNA Health currently tests for 36 gene variants involved in the following processes linked to risk for disease:
- Cholesterol metabolism and heart disease risk
- Bone health and osteoporosis risk
- Vitamin B metabolism and cancer risk
- Insulin sensitivity and diabetes risk
- Inflammation and oxidative stress
- Responsiveness to foods including lactose-containing foods, caffeine, salt and blood pressure control, and iron overload disorders.
Did you know that more than 75% of breast cancers occur in women with no family history? An increased lifestyle exposure to oestrogen is a strong risk factor in the development of breast cancer. The DNA Oestrogen tests for gene variants that have been shown to have influence over how oestrogen is processed in the body, as well as if the processing of oestrogen (and related compounds) is healthy and efficient. DNA Oestrogen examines the following:
- Genes influencing the metabolism of oestrogen and related compounds
- The impact of high-risk gene variations
- Strategies for intervention in carriers of high-risk genetic variations
- Individual risk factors associated with hormone-replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, bio-identical hormone supplementation and in vitro fertilization
Practitioners can use DNA Oestrogen results in order to mitigate breast cancer risk in women with high-risk genetic profiles.
DNA Sport takes a look at biological factors influencing the response to training, and overall performance. These factors include inflammation, blood flow, respiration, energy production, fuel metabolism and soft tissue remodelling. Knowledge of the variations in genes relating to these biological areas can be of huge value in terms of optimizing a training programme to exploit potential advantages. The insight gained can also be used to ensure the best-suited training and nutrition choices to prevent injury and boost recovery.
DNA Sport is a test suitable for individuals ranging from the elite performance athletes, to the recreational athlete really looking to maximize their fitness potential and reach peak conditioning. Beginner athletes or those starting on a weight management protocol will also get benefit from the DNA Sport test.
Although genetic testing does not negate the need for behaviour change, the knowledge gained from such testing is invaluable in aiding individuals to make healthy decisions based upon their individual genetic make up. With the knowledge of how your body reacts to specific diet and lifestyle factors, you can mitigate the risks for diseases of lifestyle and boost your health, sports performance, and longevity.
For more information on where to get your DNA-based diet , contact Kim Martin, Registered Dietitian at or contact us using the contact page.
For more information on the DNAlysis company, go to www.dnalysis.co.za.
 San-Cristobal R, Navas-Carretero S, Celis-Morales C, Brennan L, Walsh M, Lovegrove J.A., et al (2015). Analysis of dietary pattern impact on weight status for personalised nutrition through on-line advice: the Food4Me Spanish cohort. Nutrients; 7(11):9523-9537. doi:10.3390/nu7115482
 Nielsen, D.E., El-Sohemy A. (2012). A randomized trial of genetic information for personalized nutrition. Genes & Nutrition;7(4):559-566. doi: 10.1007/s12263-012-0290-x
 Arkadianos I, Valdes A.M., Marinos E, Florou A, Gill R.D., Grimaldi K.A. (2007). Improved weight management using genetic information to personalize a calorie controlled diet. Nutrition Journal;6:29. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-6-29