Ever heard the expression, “You are what you eat”? Well, the associations between diet and disease have long been recognised through epidemiological studies. We know that whether genetic predilections for a disease will manifest in an individual depends on interactions between their genome and environmental factors. And we also know that diet is one of the most important factors to influence health and disease.
So what is Nutrigenomics?
Nutrigenomics is the study of the effect of nutrients on gene expression. It looks at what genes are related to specific diseases and whether we can influence the expression of those genes through changing the nutrient profile of what that individual eats. Our animal friends are great subjects for the study of Nutrigenomics as their diet is much more controllable (than humans) and, with good compliance, a complete nutrition can be fed as a sole source over long periods.
What’s the difference between Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics?
Nutrigenetics is how an individual processes food based on their genetic profile. A good example of nutrigenetics in action is found in Bedlington Terriers. Due to a mutation in the MURR-1 gene, affected Bedlington Terriers are relatively unable to excrete excess copper, leading to copper toxicosis. Given there is no way to change one’s genes with nutrition, Hill’s’ focus is not on nutrigenetics but rather on Nutrigenomics.
In 2003 we became the first pet nutrition company to launch a product using nutrigenomic technology with our ever-popular Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ j/d™ Canine product.
More recently, Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ Metabolic diet was launched as a brand new nutrigenomic “take” on weight loss and management.
How does j/d™ use nutrigenomic technology?
Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, is an omega-3 fatty acid that has nutrigenomic effects on the progression of canine osteoarthritis. Researchers at Cardiff University discovered a dose dependent relationship between EPA and cartilage degradation and thus the nutrigenomic science behind j/d™ was born. EPA, if included in the diet at high enough levels, “switches off” or “down regulates” the genes that code for aggrecanase enzymes, one of the main enzymes responsible for cartilage degradation. Furthermore, at a clinical level, four grade-one peer-reviewed published papers, as well as an independent systematic review, have all clearly demonstrated how efficacious j/d™ is.
So, if you are not recommending
j/d™ for your arthritic patients as yet, then understanding the innovative nutrigenomic technology behind the product may help you appreciate why j/d™ is different to anything else out there in the market.
Metabolic diet for weight loss—if only there was an equivalent for people!
Traditional weight loss diets such as Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ r/d™ and other pet weight loss diets on the market all work on a restricted calorie, low fat, high fibre approach. Metabolic is different! It is a completely unique and innovative diet which actually works right down at the level of gene expression to regulate appetite and burn excess body fat. Informed by years of nutrigenomic studies, scientists at Hill’s were able to select specific nutrients to help change the unhealthy gene expression of overweight pets to be more like lean pets; literally changing the way they metabolise their food and regulate their appetite.
Vets and nurses ask us all the time; “Where can we get something like this?” and “What can I eat to have the same effect!”
Well, there is no magic ingredient, Metabolic uses an innovative blend of wholesome ingredients that naturally influence the genes that change metabolism. This synergistic blend includes nutrients such as linolenic acid from flax seed, beta carotene from carrots, phytonutrients from tomato pomace and myristic acid from coconut oil.
And as you would expect from Hill’s, the proof is in the clinical trials and in real world pets (like your patients) losing weight more easily than ever before.
The future is functional foods!
Hopefully you can now appreciate how Nutrigenomics provides a comprehensive understanding of the effects of diet on health and disease, and that Hill’s has been leading the way in ushering in a new era of nutritional science for our pets. Nutrigenomics is helping us all to fulfill our ultimate goal, which is to enhance and lengthen the lives of pets around the world.
Dr Maureen Revington BVSc, MSc, PhD , Professional Veterinary Affairs Manager, Australasia, Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
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