We’ve been told since grade school that what we eat is important, but we’ve all been told to eat the same sort of healthy things. This isn’t bad, but with the up-and-coming science of nutrigenomics, researchers can take the science of healthy eating to a whole new level. What is nutrigenomics, and how can it change things for athletes and non-athletes alike?

What is nutrigenomics?

Genomics in itself is the study of how a person’s genetic makeup affects how their body processes things like medicine and other foreign substances that are introduced into the body. The study is still in its infancy, but it has shown that genetics, or more specifically an individual genome, plays a large part in how the body is affected by drugs, food and other materials.

Nutrigenomics is a subsection of this form of science, specifically studying how food is absorbed by the body and how that absorption is affected by the individual’s genetic structure.

Most people don’t even think about how the food that they eat affects them. Of nearly 90.000 participants polled, it was found that just shy of 58 percent of them got the majority of their daily calories from heavily refined and processed foods.

Finding the best diet

Nutrigenomics isn’t just an abstract scientific concept - it could potentially change the way athletes eat in order to optimize their training. Imagine being able to plan your diet to include only foods your body processes well, to improve or increase your intake of the three macronutrients: fat, carbohydrates and protein. That’s what nutrigenomics can do, simply by looking at your genome, a metabolic profile and a set of body metrics you provide.

There’s one company already trying to do just that. Habit, a startup based in California, creates meal plans based on its customers’ genetics. While it isn’t a new idea - companies have been selling meal plans based on everything from your blood type to your ethnicity for as long as there have been diets - this is the first one backed up by science.

Whether you’re a professional athlete or someone who’s just looking how to eat a little healthier, nutrigenomics could potentially change the way we eat, the way we train and the way we approach both sports and our health.

Image: Henrik Sorensen | Getty Images

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