Health is wealth
we all learned that as kids, and the maxim has been so ingrained in our psyche that we are constantly on the quest for newer and better ways to improve our fitness. Countless exercise regimes and fad diets have come up on the horizon, with proponents claiming everything from long lives to youthful looks. The Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, the 3-1-1 diet have their own set of super fans who claim them as the panacea for all ills. However, there is no common agreement on the perfect diet. Some people claim a gluten free Paleo diet as the ultimate good, however, others claim that the diet stops one from getting all essential nutrients. Some people have claimed the Atkins has done wonders for them, while others assert that it has just left them hungrier and weaker than before, which only goes to say, that there is no one size fits all when it comes to diets. All of which brings us to the question what if there was a diet that was tailor made exclusively for you, based on not just the short term view of your current BMI or your current state of health, but one that takes a long term view of your genetic profile? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Well, guess what! There actually is! Enter the world of nutrigenomics, the latest in the field of tailor made diet plans. So what exactly is nutrigenomics, and what are the career prospects in the field? Read on to find out!
What is Nutrigenomics?
Improved research in the field of genetics has allowed scientists to gain new insights into the expression of genes- The human genome project was completed in 2003, thus enabling them to study the effect of various parameters, including pharmaceutics, environment, stress and other factors such as diet, in this case on our genome. This new insight has led to the creation of another facet of scientific study – Nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics is the study of the effects of nutrients on the genetic expression of an individual, or to put it, in a nutshell, is the study of how genes and food interact with each other, and deals with how dietary considerations can impact different components of a person’s genome. This new science is revolutionizing how people are dieting and leading to targeted nutrition. A nutrigenomic-ist needs to have knowledge about both genome structures and nutrient in foods. A nutrigenomic-ist reads a person’s genetic chart and after analyzing it advises him on a diet plan that is tailored to his specific needs.
How to become a Nutrigenomicist
Students who are interested in pursuing a career in the field of nutrigenomics can do so by getting an undergraduate degree in either genomics, nutrition, biochemistry or microbiology. A student can then go on to complete a master’s degree in nutrigenomics. Some of the best universities to learn nutrigenomics in the world are
- Cornell University – The Cornell Institute for Nutritional Genomics has recently launched a training program in nutritional genomics. The program aims to equip students with the necessary knowledge about the interaction of diet with metabolism, DNA, protein methylation and gene expression
- The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)– UCLA offers a multi-departmental program on Genomics and Nutrition. This program consists of courses that span across several departments such as genetics, molecular epidemiology, nutrition, metabolic disease and others
- Purdue University – Purdue University, college of health and human sciences, has an excellent interdepartmental nutritional program that incorporates subjects that include food technology, biochemical and molecular nutrition and human and clinical nutrition
- University of Nebraska –The University of Nebraska, launched a program entitled – Nebraska gateway to nutrigenomics, which was recently rechristened as Nebraska Prevention of Obesity Diseases (NPOD). The NPOD funds and supports research in the field of nutrigenomics
Career prospects in Nutrigenomics
Nutrigenomics is a relatively new field and employment opportunities are only expected to increase as more and more people eschew global diet recommendations for a more tailored and targeted diet and fitness plan. It is likely that the demand for nutrigenomic ists will increase especially as the impact of the field on diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Dementia and other diseases will be known. A nutrigenomic-ist can expect to earn anywhere between 35,700 USD and 101,300 USD annually.