Although the term technically refers to the influence nutrients have on genome expression, it may also refer to how a person’s genome affects the way their body reacts to certain foods when consumed (*see references below).
A nutrigenomic test typically requires a sample of saliva from which the genome is analyzed for specific genetic markers. These markers may indicate how a person responds to certain nutrients and their risk of nutrition-related chronic disease through identifying what variant of a gene they have. An example of this would be identifying which gene variant the client may have for responding to caffeine they ingest through diet (*references 3 and 4).
Nutrigenomics falls within the scope of practice of a Dietitian as it involves the collection of information on how individual genetic variations may affect a person’s response to food and examining how the interaction between genes and food can positively influence health outcomes. Generally, a Nutrigenomics lab will send genetic testing results to the Dietitian who can then discuss the results and appropriate dietary modifications with their client.
Nutrigenomics may be part of the assessment of the Dietitian and impact the design of the individual care plan. As for any new or emerging practice, Dietitians should refer to the
Decision Tool for New Aspects of Dietetic Practice
and decide if nutritional genetic testing is relevant in their practice and clinically useful for their client.
For example, the Decision Tool may be used to determine if nutrigenomic testing is an appropriate resource to inform a client’s dietary needs and if the administration of the test by a Dietitian is consistent with their responsibilities under the CDBC Bylaws, Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The CDBC also prepared a
Q&A and helpful resources
to support Dietitians with evidence-based information on nutrigenomics.
The College encourages Dietitians to consider emerging nutrition care approaches and trends with an evidence-informed lens and in consideration of the legislated dietetic scope of practice, bylaws, code of ethics and standards of practice.