The food choices we make represent one of the biggest factors influencing our nutritional status. And our nutritional status is THE most important lifestyle factor affecting our general health and risk for developing certain diseases.

FACT: The average Western diet is leaving us short of essential nutrients. Unfortunately, due to a wealth of well marketed convenience foods and confusing and conflicting information about food - it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to make good choices.

FACT: The average Western diet is leaving us short of essential nutrients.

I know this not just from my observations in nutritional practice analysing client’s food intakes, but also from research done by our own health agencies.  The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey and the World Food Programme identified that:

  • 1 in 3 people in the UK are affected by nutrient deficiencies
  • The consequences can range from poor health and productivity to a susceptibility to a whole host of chronic diseases.

Diet or supplements?

In most instances, careful changes in diet (getting your food intake analysed by a Registered Nutritionist or Dietitian is a great place to start) can identify and plug any potential nutrition gaps before they do too much harm.  However, genetic variations can change the way different foods or nutrients are used by our bodies.

These variations can change our susceptibility to different diseases, and therefore make certain dietary changes more important from one person to another, and these changes may not always be met by diet alone.

This is where personalised nutrition can make a difference.  Although these genetic variations can be viewed as a weakness, the most important thing is that, once identified, their effects can be modified to minimise any risk using nutritional factors.

EXAMPLE: Homocysteine is an amino acid produced in the body that is known to be an independent risk factor for heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.  Now, my dear Dad passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, and although I haven’t been tested for the gene (who wants to know they’ve got THAT time bomb ticking away?!) I HAVE had a test to look for gene variants with potential health effects that can be mitigated by diet and lifestyle changes.  My results showed that I have a gene variant that prevents me from effectively converting folic acid into it’s active form.  This can result in high homocysteine levels and therefore puts me at increased risk of Alzheimer’s or heart disease if I don’t fix it. Luckily, a supplement of pre-activated folic acid (methylfolate) saved the day – and possibly my brain!

As a nutritionist I’m conscious of what I eat anyway, but this was a game changer for me – now I know that I’m doing all I can to protect my health into the future.

If you’d be interested in finding out more about personalised nutrition message me here, or check out my website which has more info about the process and how much it costs.

 

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Roz Witney

Author Roz Witney

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