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Really, Your Genes Say to Eat Your Greens

Companies are moving in to offer gene-based nutrition advice, the Wall Street Journal reports.

By examining certain genes, these companies — which include Nutrigenomix, 23andMe, Interleukin Genetics, and Vitagene — tell customers whether they are good metabolizers of, for instance, iron or calcium and offer tweaks customers can make to their diet to make it more efficient and healthful.

Mary Pipino tells the Journal she ordered Nutrigenomix's test through her nutritionist and learned from it that she's a slow caffeine metabolizer as well as a poor digester of dairy and absorber of iron. The test also indicated that strength and endurance training are likely among her strong suits. Based on this, Pipino says she stopped eating yogurt and increased the iron supplements she was taking.

Similarly, the University of California, Davis' Bruce German, who is on Nutrigenomix's advisory board, learned he is a slow absorber of folate, which has led him to eat more greens. "Most people know that they should eat more green matter but they don't anyway," he tells the Journal. "Being told you are genuinely at risk makes green vegetables a more convincing food choice."

However, critics say the nutrigenomics field is too young to be giving out diet advice. "We still have a long way to go in the development of practical tools," Tufts University's José Ordovás tells the Journal. That sentiment was likewise echoed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in its 2014 position statement.

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