Personalised nutrition: What my DNA told me about my diet

Tailor-made eating plans are fast replacing one-size-fits-all diets. Could personalised nutrition be the answer to your dietary questions?

Health and fitness have always been key parts of Keran Murphy’s life.

Her job as a personal trainer demands she stay strong and in shape, and so she’s eaten a balanced diet for as long as she can remember.

But two years ago, she decided to explore personalised nutrition – and it’s given her a whole new picture of her dietary needs.

“The results showed me that my body responds well to a high-protein and high-carbohydrate diet, rather than eating too many fats,” Keran, 50, says.

“I was on the right track, but using personalised nutrition gave me more insight into how my body works efficiently if I eat the right way.”

So what is personalised nutrition, and how can it work for you?

How personalised nutrition works

The idea behind this approach to eating is it is tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.

First, a simple cheek swab is used to profile your DNA.

Using that information, scientists examine details such as how you process and store fat, how effectively your body breaks down cholesterol, and your sensitivity to ingredients such as caffeine.

MyDNA scientific director Dr Carlotta Petti says this information can then be used to identify all the nutrients you should be eating daily. A specific eating plan is developed that suits your genetic makeup.

“There’s an abundance of research to demonstate how our genes are responsible for the way our bodies respond to fats and proteins,” Dr Petti says.

“There have also been a number of successful case studies showing how personalised diet recommendations have better outcomes than generic diets.”

A 2018 analysis of evidence on personalised nutrition found individuals do have different dietary responses, and that some studies suggest personalisation may have better health outcomes than general diet approaches.

But the researchers also noted much of the current evidence is based on observational studies rather than randomised controlled trials. Ultimately, more research is needed.

Fresh insight into personal health

personalised nutrition keran
Keran Murphy

Still, Keran found the process gave her new insights now guide her eating habits.

“So, I eat more potato, rice and quinoa. For breakfast I might have oats or an egg with toast but I eat less avocado than I used to because of its fat content,” she says.

“Lunch is often chicken, rice and vegetables because it’s a good balance of carbs and protein.

“My personalised eating plan also showed I can have a second coffee and not get jittery as long as I eat plenty of vegies, such as broccoli or cauliflower, during the day.”

Her nutrition profile also pinpointed the vitamins and minerals that Keran should include more of in her diet.

“My body doesn’t absorb vitamin B well and my calcium levels have always been an issue – I’ve never had strong nails,” says Keran.

“So, I’ve increased my calcium intake by eating more dairy and I take calcium supplements as well as B vitamin supplements.”

Keran has lost body fat and gained muscle and says she feels even fitter and healthier.

“It’s sensible eating and it is all about giving my body the nutrition it wants and needs,” she says.

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Written by Sarah Marinos.