In our ageing world with a growing burden of chronic illnesses, focusing on prevention in medicine is essential. Nutrigenomics is a field that explores how our genes interact with the food we consume, allowing personalised nutritional plans to enhance overall health. Alongside nutrigenomics, personalised and precision medicine work together to provide tailored healthcare approaches, viewing ageing as a phase of potential and grace.
Dr Arief Wibowo, a cardiologist with a unique understanding of genetics in medicine, joins Dr. Meryl Kallman to discuss the emerging realm of nutrigenomics.
Dr. K: Dr. Arief, with your prestigious background in exosome research and your extensive clinical experience in cardiology, no one better understands the scientific theory and practical utility of genomics in medicine. How would you describe Nutrigenomic Medicine, and what’s its connection to Personalised Healthcare?
Dr. W: Nutrigenomic Medicine delves into how our individual genetic variants influence our body’s response to nutrients. It’s a crucial component of personalised healthcare, as it enables us to design customised nutritional plans based on an individual’s genetic traits to optimise their health.
Dr. K: It’s fascinating how this goes beyond the traditional dietary recommendations we used to rely on.
Dr. W: Absolutely! Nutrigenomics offers a more personalised approach by considering the natural link between genetics and nutritional needs. This ensures that our nutritional plans are tailored to an individual’s genetic makeup, making them more effective and practical.
Dr. K: This is something I know you and I are both passionate about. Let’s talk about Personalised Medicine for a bit. How would you define it, and what sets it apart from conventional practices?
Dr. W: Personalised Medicine is all about understanding an individual’s unique genetic makeup, lifestyle, environment, and health history. Unlike conventional approaches, it goes beyond broad categorisations and aims to target the root causes of diseases, leading to more effective and efficient treatments.
Dr.K: It’s remarkable how personalised medicine is transforming modern healthcare, don’t you think?
Dr. W: Absolutely. It’s a game-changer. By providing therapies tailored to each patient’s specific needs and circumstances, we can manage health more effectively and explore new avenues for diagnosing and treating various diseases.
Dr. K: And does that differ from Precision Medicine. If so, how would you describe its role, and what makes it holistic?
Dr. W: Precision Medicine builds upon personalised medicine by incorporating various elements such as genetics, proteomics, lifestyle, and more. It’s about refining our medical interventions to suit each individual, acknowledging the complexity of human health and promoting optimal well-being.
Dr. K: Now, let’s discuss how these disciplines can address chronic lifestyle diseases. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in both men and women. As a cardiologist, how do you see these technologies change the scope of chronic disease management.
Dr. W: Chronic lifestyle diseases like ASCVD, diabetes and obesity are a significant global health concern. By combining nutrigenomics, personalised medicine, and precision medicine, we can develop personalised strategies to reduce risks, enhance health, and even reverse the progression of these diseases.
Dr. K: That’s the beauty of personalised care. We can tailor interventions to suit each patient’s genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors.
Our DNA has laid out this blueprint, so to speak, for our lives and our health. And we cannot change our genetic coding (not yet anyway!) if that’s the case, couldn’t the argument be made that, absent of some acute tragedy, our fates have been pre-determined? Can you share a little about the role of epigenetics in our understanding of genetics and health.
Dr. W: Epigenetics adds another layer of complexity to the picture. It explores how external factors like nutrition and environmental exposures affect gene expression. Understanding epigenetic changes allows individuals to make lifestyle decisions that promote long-term well-being, leading to a preventive approach to health management.
Dr. K: Now you’re talkin’! It emphasises the importance of a holistic approach to health, considering not just our genes but also how our environment influences them. Speaking of personalised approaches, let’s discuss genetically tailored diets and personalised supplementation.
Dr. W: Nutrigenomic research has revealed how genes impact nutrition metabolism. By using this knowledge, we can create personalised diets based on an individual’s genetic composition, optimising nutrient absorption and promoting gut health.
Dr. K: And personalised supplementation can further enhance this approach. By diagnosing specific vitamin deficits or imbalances, we can recommend individualised supplementation strategies to ensure patients get the nutrients they need, isn’t that right?
Dr. W: Yes. It’s about providing the right nutrients at the right levels for each person’s unique biological makeup.
Dr. K: OK, let’s move on to genetics and fitness. I know understanding genetics can improve fitness planning- it helps us create personalised fitness regimens, tailoring training programs based on individual genetic traits to improve training efficiency and effectiveness, and reducing risk of injury.
Dr. W: It’s exciting to see how genetics is playing a role in optimising fitness and performance. These breakthroughs in sports and exercise science will allow us to maximise the benefits of physical activity for each individual.
Dr. K: Finally, let’s discuss how precision medicine facilitates improved drug matching for individuals.
Dr. W: Precision medicine enables us to predict an individual’s response to specific treatments based on their genetic composition. This personalised approach leads to more effective drug prescriptions, reducing the risk of adverse effects.
Dr. K: Iatrogenic causes account for far too many hospital visits and even fatal outcomes. We must take our oath to “do no harm” very seriously. Pharmacogenomics is a major step forward in pharmacology, enhancing treatment outcomes and patient safety. We can now provide the right treatment to the right person, based on their unique genetic profile.
Dr. W: This just leads us to the importance of preventive screening with genomics. It allows for risk assessment for specific diseases. It can guide our lifestyle choices, from exercise to nutrition to sleep habits to best mitigate these risks. It increases the likelihood of early detection and informs pharmacological therapy decision making to ensure the best fit for each of our unique patients.
Dr. K: You really said it all Doc. Risk assessment. Very early prevention. Early detection. Precision therapy. This proactive approach transforms healthcare from reactive to preventive, promoting healthy ageing. The future of medicine.
Dr. W: I couldn’t agree more. It’s about catching health issues early and taking preventive measures to maintain health and well-being.
Dr. M: Precisely. It’s a paradigm shift in healthcare, focusing on preventing age-related diseases rather than just treating their symptoms.
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