Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 25, 2021
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The 21st-century diet

The next phase in diet therapy has hit Canada. Research has pinpointed some of the genes that interact with nutrients which, in turn, impact heart disease, diabetes and other degenerative diseases.

Omega-3 fatty acids

The NOS3 gene regulates the production of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase for the production of nitric oxide. People with one of two variations in the gene are at greater risk for having high triglyceride levels when consuming a diet low in omega-3 fats.1


The CYP1A2 enzyme metabolizes caffeine in the liver. Variances in the gene can cause variations in the activity of the enzyme. Metabolizing caffeine at a slower rate seems to be associated with an increased risk of heart attack, even when caffeine intake is within four cups of coffee daily.2

Vitamin C

The GSTT1 gene produces a protein from the glutathione S-transferase enzyme family, which plays a role in the utilization of deficiency when they don’t meet the RDA for vitamin C.3

Folic acid

The MTHFR gene produces methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, an enzyme that plays an important role in the way the body uses folic acid. People with a variant of this gene are at greater risk for folate deficiency when folate intake is low.4

Whole grains

The TCF7L2 gene produces transcription factor 7- like 2, which affects how the body turns on or off some other genes. People with one of two variants of TCF7L2 have a 67 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.5

Saturated fat

APOA2 directs the body to produce apolipoprotein A-II. This protein plays an important role in the body’s ability to utilize different types of fat. People with one variant of this gene are at a greater risk for becoming obese when they consume a diet high in saturated fats.6


The ACE gene regulates the production of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). People with one of two variants of this gene have a 230 percent increased risk of having high blood pressure when their sodium intake is high.7

So how do we know if our patients have variants of these genes? Nutrigenomix, a University of Toronto spin-off biotechnology company spearheaded by Dr Ahmed El-Sohemy, Canada Research Chair in Nutrigenomics and an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the U of T, has developed a genetic test kit that will be available through dietitians offices beginning this month. For info:

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.


Showing 2 comments

  1. On July 5, 2012, K O'Neill said:
    OR..... People could just forgo the testing and eat properly and exercise. Just sayin'...
  2. On July 12, 2012, Registered Dietitian said:
    People are also more likely to follow a "prescribed" healthy diet than a general guideline. Some need more motivation to avoid the overwhelming presence of highly processed, sugary, salty and fatty goodies in the market place. Yes, people could just eat "healthier", but what if you were able to tell a client you shouldn't eat 6-7 of Grains daily like the Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide suggests because you're at greater risk of diabetes? Do you think they would be more likely to make changes especially after paying a pretty penny to find that out? I do...

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