According to buzz at the 2005 American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo this past October, nutrition will continue to get very personal in the coming years. Ruth DeBusk, PhD, RD, a nutrition consultant in Tallahassee, Florida, and Colleen Fogarty, MS, RD, program director of Nutrigenomics at Interleukin Genetics in Waltham, Massachusetts, presented an overview of personalized nutrition, also known as “nutrigenomics.” Nutrition professionals are strategically positioned to develop food plans to mitigate problems caused by a client’s genetic profile (e.g., gluten sensitivity) or by potentially harmful environmental effects (e.g., iron poisoning). The presenters shared the following key take-home messages:

  • Our genetic information determines much of our physiological function.
  • The good news is that the outcome of that genetic information is not necessarily cast in stone and can be improved through diet and exercise.
  • People inherit health/disease susceptibilities through the genes that are passed down in families.
  • Lifestyle choices–in addition to family history–help determine who among the genetically susceptible will be well or ill.
  • Through nutrigenomics, dietetitians will someday play a central role in helping people maximize their genetic potential through personalized food plans.