We’ve always been told that we are what we eat, but in the future, we’ll be told what to eat based on what we are, genetically. “…You may in the future choose your breakfast cereal based on your genes,” says geneticist Peter Singer. “It is hypothetical today but possible that if you have a particular gene, you will be advised to use a cereal that decreases your chance of heart disease and avoid another that would increase the chance of colon cancer.”
Steve Connor writes in The Independent that scientists have recently announced the discovery of genes that may increase the risk of obesity and osteoporosis, and companies are already developing products to take advantage of these discoveries. These and other problems can be delayed or avoided completely if the right diet is started at an early enough age.
Someday soon, the way we eat may be largely determined not by what we like, but by the genes we’ve ended up with. We’ll have our DNA analyzed and invest in customized diets based on the results. One British company, Sciona, is already offering a genetic test for anyone concerned about how to adapt their diet to the genes they may have inherited. Their website says, “Small differences in your genes can influence how well your body metabolizes foods, utilizes nutrients and excretes damaging toxins, all of which can affect your general state of health. By finding out if you have any of these small variations, [we] can provide you with specific dietary information that cannot be obtained from any other source.”
Nutritionist Tom Sanders thinks lots of people are going to be exploited this way, just as they are with every diet fad. He says, “Tests are only really useful when the disease is clinically silent for a number of years before it erupts. The idea that you’ll have a test to determine whether you should eat grapes or bananas is really nonsense. One characteristic of humans is the huge variety of diets that we can live on quite well. A genetic test to fine-tune your diet is not going to undo the harm of sitting down and watching television for 50 hours a week.”
Don’t let anyone tell you that who you are is determined only by your genes?there’s a lot more to us than that.
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