The Truth About DNA-Based Diets

Is this diet just another
marketing scheme or should we take it seriously?

Written by Jessica Smith

What’s always trending?
Looking for ways to improve our health. We don’t want to say that this is a
definite conclusion to why the weight loss industry is a multibillion-dollar
industry, but there’s no denying the correlation. This perpetual quest to
achieve tip-top health has led to the discovery of some intriguing “solutions.”
Among the many recent cure-all
diet discoveries is the DNA-based diet, which is a diet based on your unique
genetic makeup.
But the question that a lot of
people want to know before jumping on the next hottest diet fad (or at least it
should be) — does the diet have any real benefits? Or is this just another way
“health” companies to take our money? We’re diving deep into the structure of
this new diet and investigating whether it’s truly beneficial or not.
So… How Exactly Does the DNA
Diet Work?

The DNA diet is designed to
optimize your health by making sure you’re not in any danger of nutrient
deficiencies. The only way to get a diet plan that will fit your genetic makeup
is to get a DNA test from a company. This test reveals any allergies,
intolerances, and what your body needs to perform its best.
Requirements for the test
depends on the company. For example, Nutrigenomix depends on saliva samples.
But Habit requires you to drink a special shake, and then prick your finger to
collect a blood sample. These samples are collected from the convenience of
your own home, you send it back to the company for them to asses in their labs,
and you generally receive the results in a couple of weeks.
Then the companies will
usually have you subscribe to their meal plans to ensure you’re getting the
best diet possible for your genetic makeup. For example, Habit classifies
people into seven groups, such as Protein Seekers, Fat Seekers, or Balance
Seekers. The names are pretty self-explanatory — if you’re labeled a “Protein
Seeker”, you should be eating foods rich in protein. If you’re labeled a
“Balance Seeker”, you should balance your meals into nearly equal parts of each
macronutrient. You are encouraged to order their ready-made meals so that you
can eat “right for your type.”
Are head-scratching marketing
tactics at play here? Perhaps… depending on what the science says.
What Does the Science Say?

This is a diet based on nutrigenomics
— a science that focuses on the effect food has on gene expression. Or in plain
terms, the way the body reacts to various foods. This information is then used
to come up with personalized diet plans that people can use to ensure optimal
The DNA diet is based on the
well-known fact that every body is different and therefore we all don’t react
in the same way to nutrients. I mean, we all know that someone we are secretly
jealous of who can stay lean no matter what they eat whereas most of us seem to
have to work extra hard for this bod.
So, is there any evidence so
far that this diet works? Well… it depends on the study you look at.
On one side, a paper found
that personalized nutrition information based on genotype, lifestyle, and diet
produced significant positive results. One example is how some people had to
cut out coffee since they have a variant gene that makes them sensitive to
caffeine — and they felt better for it. There is also some evidence to prove
that people metabolize carbs, fats, and proteins different depending on our
genetic makeup and so paying attention to that can help us.
On the flip side, there are
also studies that show that there is not enough statistically significant data
to prove that this diet actually works — meaning there was no real association
between being healthy and following a DNA-based diet or not following one.
There are just too many other factors to consider to base a diet solely on DNA.
A Personal Testimonial

Julia wanted to get a greater
understanding of how her genes affect her training and nutrition. So after some
research, she realized her current diet could have a massive impact on her
athletic performance and overall health.
The main changes she made
following her DNAFit test were to her diet and nutrition, but after learning
about her recovery profile, she adjusted her training program with her coach.
She reports feeling great
during her training and feels like she’s getting more out of it. Julia has also
reported losing fat and getting more toned. She also feels more confident in
her training since it’s all tailored to her unique genetic makeup.
Is the DNA Diet Really Worth

The jury is still out on the
effectiveness of the DNA diet since it’s still in its infancy. More research is
needed since it doesn’t consider all factors like diseases.
So while DNA testing can give
you some insight about what’s going on in your body, it probably isn’t a
magical diet plan that will help you achieve optimal health.
If you need some extra help in
planning your meals and understand how nutrients work in your body, DNA diet
apps like the Gini App can help you understand micronutrients and
macronutrients. It even offers numerous healthy and delicious meal ideas.
As for now, there are many
research findings that are for and against this diet and it’s hard to make a
conclusion on whether the diet is viable now. But the diet does show potential
and may become a success in the next few years, especially for those with food
Jessica is an avid reader who
enjoys getting lost in the world of books. Holding on to her passion for
fitness, she believes that a healthy diet is key to healthy living.

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.