The Gene Quest - Dr. Janani
We recently talked to Dr. Janani Balsubramaniam, MBBS, MS(USA) who currently runs a health center in Tamil Nadu called Dr. Janani’s Health Management Center. She offers solutions to health problems through personalized diets. We had a freewheeling conversation with Dr Janani about genetics and how it affects health and its benefits. Here are some highlights from the interview.
Do you think Genetics plays an important role in the well-being and treating medical conditions?
Yes, many medical conditions have a genetic background. Diseases such as excessive blood pressure, high sugar levels, and various auto-immune illnesses including thyroid in the general population and polycystic ovarian disease are becoming more frequent among young women as they enter their second decade of life. People state that “as you get older, you’re more likely to develop diseases”, but this isn’t true; you’re not born with diseases, and as long as you take good care of your body, diseases won’t develop. Our lifestyle can influence all these and genetics can be the underlying reason, genetics impact metabolism, physical activities, sleep patterns, diet. Having control over our diet is crucial. Your diet can decide whether certain illnesses will manifest in you or not. Therefore, knowing about your genetic makeup will help your body by modifying your dietary habits accordingly. There is always a better solution in understanding the root cause than treating symptoms.
What’s the golden trinity of nutrigenomics?
Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics are subdivisions of Nutritional Genomics; however, apart from the definition, their practical application is similar. So, the golden trinity of nutrigenomics is Genetics, Nutrition and Health. All three of these entities are impacted by each other, as well as themselves. Nutrigenomics is the study of the effect of genetic variations on the metabolism of nutrients that are present in our food which impacts our health ultimately. A specific individual nutrition plan is formed using what your genes tell you about your eating preferences and snacking patterns to help regulate your habits and prevent overeating.
How does dietary fibre play a role in the human body?
Fibre is not a nutrient nor does it have any nutritional value, however, it has its special place in nutrition and dietetics. It has a vast number of properties like, consuming enough fibre helps in controlling blood sugar levels, lowers levels of cholesterol, normalizes bowel movements, makes you feel fuller and satiated after a meal, feeds the gut bacteria, and helps these bacteria thrive which results in better digestion.
Can you help us understand a bit about deficiencies caused by veganism?
As a trend, being vegan means that you shouldn’t consume animal products like dairy or meat. In addition to avoiding cosmetics that contain animal products, vegans avoid flu vaccines made from chicken eggs and do not consume vegetables cultivated with the aid of animals.
Raw vegetables are high in dietary fibre and vegan diets are lower in essential fatty acids, calcium, Vitamin B12, and other nutrients. The recommended fibre intake is about 25-30gm per day. The fibres in vegan diets contain phytate, which prevents zinc, copper, iron, etc. from being absorbed which may impair other important biochemical processes in our body.
Humans are animals, therefore we are incapable of metabolizing food in a way that results in 100% bioavailability (the amount of a nutrient in the diet). This is why the food chain exists in our ecosystem. For example, plants absorb minerals from the soil which are then consumed by animals, and humans then consume it and absorb the minerals necessary.
We’d like to know your thoughts about understanding and interpreting genetic results. How important is genetic knowledge for nutritionists?
Nutrigenomics teaches you to eat depending on what your genes tell you to eat, i.e., you feed the body what it wants rather than what you want. Today, nutrigenomics plays a key role in managing obesity and metabolic disorders. These tests identify where we are wrong and how we can fix it. About 1700 diseases can be prevented with these results.
The ABCDs of your evaluation are-A: Anthropometry
B: Biochemical parameters
C: Clinical Examination/Evaluation
D: Diet history/DNA Testing
There is another D in today’s world, which is DNA testing; those who want to lose weight or follow a personalized plan find it tedious and confusing. You can only interpret and understand results with proper coaching and guidance.
Genetic testing determines what kind of genetic variations you have, based on that information you can determine your probability of developing a particular disease or condition. Our blood tests tend to change from time to time-based on whether or not you have fasted and other parameters. These frequent blood tests cannot predict whether an individual will develop a certain disease. DNA testing provides vital information such as what kind of deficiencies, diseases, or nutrients you might require, and some metabolic issues you may have. With a simple gene test, you can narrow down a person’s diet needs, demands and risks. It is a cost-effective one-time test that can provide you with a roadmap of your entire life.
“I feel the reports given by The Gene Box makes the work simple and provides all the information needed to interpret the results and it’s just straightforward”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this course and did this course help you reach your goal?
In one word, I’d say it was enlightening, before taking the course I thought “It is kind of easy, maybe it’s a quick crash course”, but the amount and depth of knowledge and information you gain can’t be measured. What you grasp today stays with you for your entire life and the way the course is delivered is systematic and clear. I loved it.
“The Gene Box provides various customizable panels to choose from and you may choose what you want which covers a certain number of traits of your interest..”
After finishing the course, I even established a partnership with them for performing genetic tests on my clients and patients. I can inquire about any questions I may have and request people to help me through if I need more clarity. I’m recommending it to my friends, and it’s worth the money, even the Genetic Testing at The Gene Box Is affordable compared to the market.