Las relaciones entre la genética y la alimentación

Genética y la alimentación.

Economía divulga el artículo de Santiago Campillo donde se expone como avanzan las últimas técnicas en genética y el abaratamiento del coste en su aplicación. El ADN está tomando un papel mucho más relevante en todo tipo de disciplinas relacionadas con la salud. Una de ellas, sin duda, es la nutrición. ¿Qué relación tiene nuestra genética en lo que comemos y viceversa? La genómica nutricional se encarga de estudiar este aspecto.

Genética y Nutrición

La genómica nutricional es una disciplina muy amplia encargada de estudiar la relación entre el genoma y la nutrición, así como sus efectos en nuestra salud. Pero esta disciplina se divide a su vez en dos ramas: la nutrigenómica y la nutrigenética. La primera estudia los efectos de los nutrientes en la salud a través de la modificación que generan en nuestro genoma y su manera de expresarse, mientras que la segunda estudia los efectos de las variaciones genéticas en la interacción con nuestra dieta.

Así, la nutrigenómica pretende proporcionar un conocimiento molecular sobre los componentes de la dieta que contribuyen a la salud mediante la alteración de la expresión y constitución genética individual. Por su parte, la nutrigenética tiene como objetivo estudiar cómo las distintas variantes genéticas de las personas influyen en el metabolismo de los nutrientes, la dieta y las enfermedades asociadas a esta.

De esta manera, la nutrigenómica tiene un carácter más teórico, buscando patrones y definiendo diversos aspectos de la genómica nutricional. Por su parte, la nutrigenética es de carácter más aplicado, de manera que en esta disciplina trata de dar recomendaciones referentes a los riesgos y a los beneficios de dietas concretas o de los componentes dietéticos aislados. ¿Y qué podemos aprender de estas disciplinas?

¿Qué aplicaciones tienen?

Cada vez disponemos de más información para decidir nuestra alimentación de acuerdo a nuestro perfil genético. ¿Podemos optimizar una dieta en base a nuestro ADN? Expertos en nutrición creen que sí, aunque solo con la herramienta adecuada. Esto también depende de la aplicación. Actualmente muchos de los dietista-nutricionistas trabajan en el mundo sanitario, dando consejos dietéticos orientados a la salud.

Existen diversos genes implicados en la nutrición diaria que afectan a la forma de absorber los alimentos. Por ejemplo, sabemos que los portadores de una variante conocida como INSIG2 tienen mayor predisposición a desarrollar obesidad. Si junto a este polimorfismo se presenta la variante AA del gen FTO, existe un riesgo elevado de desarrollar obesidad mórbida, por lo que sabemos con seguridad que ante la presencia de estos es imprescindible seguir una dieta muy baja en calorías y hacer mucho ejercicio.

Como este ejemplo existen docenas más: los polimorfismos en el gen ADRB2, o en el gen APOAV, etc. Realizando un análisis genético adecuado podemos conocer las características del ADN de una persona. Entonces, un profesional de la nutrición tendrá una mayor capacidad de determinar qué dieta ha de seguir la persona para evitar problemas de salud. Pero, más allá de la nutrigenética dedicada a la salud ¿nos puede ayudar, por ejemplo, a adelgazar?

Los Test de ADN personalizados

Cada vez son más las compañías que pretenden mejorar la eficiencia deportiva, ayudar a adelgazar o a adquirir hábitos más saludables a partir de un test de ADN. Estos pueden realizarse en una clínica o, incluso, en casa de forma sencilla y relativamente barata. Pero cuidado. A pesar de que a día de hoy estamos en disposición de obtener mucha información a partir de nuestro genoma, los test genéticos no son nada sencillos.

Por mucho que estas empresas clamen una serie de propiedades y ayudas casi mágicas, lo cierto es que tanto el análisis como la interpretación posterior, así como las decisiones nutricionales asociadas, han de estar respaldadas por un equipo profesional adecuado. Por ejemplo, muchos de los genes y polimorfismos asociados a este tipo de test no muestran evidencias concretas relacionadas con un cambio dietético concreto.

Por otro lado, estos test «baratos» no suelen buscar polimorfismos asociados a enfermedad. Para encontrar test de ADN personalizados relacionados con la nutrigenética debemos recurrir a especialistas y profesionales que cuenten con un grupo interprofesional y una entidad (como un hospital) adecuados. Esto se debe, como decíamos, porque al final hace falta un equipo completo para hacer las interpretaciones adecuadas, algo que no es sencillo ni barato.

No obstante, cada vez son más las facilidades y los conocimientos aportados por la nutrigenética y la nutrigenómica, de manera que ya es posible obtener interesantes resultados a partir de pruebas sencillas. Poco a poco, estas disciplinas y sus profesionales van conformando una realidad muy interesante. Una realidad que asienta el futuro de una alimentación más sana, eficiente y personalizada.

 

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