Nutrigenomics for your pets: What the heck is it and why you should care
Nutrigenomics … what a word! According to Wiki-wisdom, this science is "the study of the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression."
"It is about how our DNA is transcribed into mRNA and then to proteins and provides a basis for understanding the biological activity of food components … By doing so, Nutrigenomics aims to develop rational means to optimise nutrition, with respect to the subject's genotype. By determining the mechanism of the effects of nutrients or the effects of a nutritional regime, Nutrigenomics tries to define the causality|relationship between these specific nutrients and specific nutrient regimes (diets) on human [or animal] health."
That may be a little hard to wrap your head around, so think about it this way:
Each animal's DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is different. Encoded in the DNA is a way for cells to make proteins, but not every cell can make its proteins optimally without DNA-appropriate nutrition. And according to the science of nutrigenomics, those nutrient needs vary from one individual to the next according to their DNA.
So for example: Dogs originating in northern climates may have adapted to a diet containing specific local ingredients that can help their DNA to produce proteins properly. And that’s critical if northern breed dogs are to be as healthy as possible.
The hard part? Finding out what’s best for each individual. The goal of this kind of work is to identify an idealized, personalized kind of nutrition for each individual. The science is on its way, but isn’t there yet.
Again, more Wikipedia thoughtfulness to chew on:
"Nutrigenomics has been associated with the idea of personalized nutrition based on genotype. While there is hope that nutrigenomics will ultimately enable such personalised dietary advice, it is a science still in its infancy and its contribution to public health over the next decade is thought to be minor."
In its infancy, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean that veterinary specialists aren't doing their darnedest to get the best nutrition to animals by studying their DNA. The idea underlining nutrigenomics is that one day we will all have access to highly individualized diets that give us, and our pets, the best possible chance at long, happy, healthy lives.
Dr. Patty Khuly