Nutritional Genomics: Nutrigenomics & Nutrigenetics

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  • 0:00 Nutritional Genomics
  • 0:50 Nutrigenomics
  • 2:12 Nutrigenetics
  • 3:13 The Future
  • 3:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Can you imagine a day when your diet will be based on your genes? This is the promise growing out of the study of nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics. Learn how your diet is related to your genome and how this might change health care in the future.

Nutritional Genomics

You have probably noticed that the food you eat can change the way you feel. Who hasn't felt sleepy after indulging in a big turkey dinner, or felt that mental boost that comes from ingesting caffeine? But what if the foods you ate did more than temporarily change your mood or energy level? What if your diet could actually affect your genes? Could allergies, cancers or even the aging process be reversed by manipulating the foods you eat?

These are the basic questions asked by those interested in nutritional genomics, which is the field of study that looks into the relationship between genes and nutrition. Follow along as we explore this relatively new field and discover what it might mean for the future of health care.


When you look at the term 'nutritional genomics,' you see the word 'genome' hidden inside. You can use this to remind yourself that nutritional genomics has a connection to the Human Genome Project. The Human Genome Project is a research project that identified all of the genes contained in human DNA. This project helped scientists understand the links between genetics and health. It also gave new meaning to the old saying, 'you are what you eat.' For instance, because of this research, we know that foods can affect how a gene is expressed.

Nutrigenomics is a discipline within nutritional genomics that studies the effects of foods on gene expression. This sounds complicated, but you are likely familiar with some examples of nutrigenomics already. For example, red wine has become something of a modern-day health food thanks to the fact that it contains resveratrol. Resveratrol is a nutrient that stimulates a gene that protects tissues from free radical damage. Another nutrient that affects your genes is folate, found in foods like fruits and green vegetables. Folate is a nutrient needed by the body to make DNA. When you do not take in enough folate, you have a higher risk of developing cancer.

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