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Eat Your Genes

Some researchers and companies envision a future in which people are advised to eat or not eat certain foods or supplements based on their genetic profiles, the Guardian reports.

"It would be preferable to tailor treatment to the individual, rather than to a group or just the population generally," the University of Newcastle's John Hesketh says of personalized nutrition.

A number of personal genetic testing companies already examine certain gene variants linked to lactose intolerance, alcohol and caffeine sensitivity, and risk of celiac disease, among others.

The chief scientific officer of the UK-based DNAFit, Keith Grimaldi tells the Guardian that for a SNP to be part of its nutrigenetic screen, "it has to have been studied in specific gene-diet interaction studies, and the results have to be repeated several times."

However, a number of researchers tell the Guardian that it's still early days for nutrigenomics. Some SNPs are well established to influence, for instance, whether someone needs higher levels of folic acid, vitamins B6, or vitamin B12, but other SNPs aren't as tightly linked to nutritional needs and those that have been identified so far are unlikely to be the only ones. In addition, the interaction of certain variants with each other as well as with the gut microbiome isn't yet clear.

"As long as you don't overreach on your promises," José Ordovás from Tufts University, tells the Guardian, "even with the knowledge we have now, you can start sending people in the right direction, in terms of what will be better for them."