Nutrigenomics studies how genetic and cellular processes relate to nutrition and health, including how people with different genetic variants respond to alternative dietary conditions and how diet can switch genes on or off.
Nutrigenomics promises more targeted preventative healthcare. As different people respond in different ways to similar diets and lifestyles, it is argued that nutrigenomics could improve on the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of current public health strategies.
Some genetic testing companies have taken things a step further. They sell genetically ‘personalised’ dietary advice. They offer home sampling kits – you send them a cheek swab, a lifestyle questionnaire and a few hundred dollars and they send you your test results and suggest changes to your eating habits.
Food companies are interested in nutrigenomics because it can help them to develop and market new functional foods.