Geneticists look at the epigenetic tags that switch on or off those gene variants. Nutritionists seek out smart foods, functional foods that could override those gene variants. Epigenetics also meets plant extracts and the power of berries. You may wish to check out the site, "Superfoods: 11 berries to improve your health."
There's a career in nutrition that's linked to genetics--that of metabolic and genetic dietitian. The work consists of planning diets based on the metabolic and genetic needs and requirements of an individual as prescribed by a physician specializing in genetic disorders or genetic research. You have a nation or world of smart foods, functional foods, and foods tailored to individual metabolisms and genetic response. And then there's the fast-food generation that now is global in most major cities.
Nutrition meets epigenetics
Some, but not all, genetic and metabolic dietitians/nutritionists wonder whether mankind is destined for a nutritional and genetic divide that may or may not yield a superior species of nutrition-enriched to exercise dominion over the nutritional have-nots. So now we have the digital divide, the socio-economic divide, and the nutritional divide separating the healthy foods enthusiast who can afford organic produce from the fast-food generation of supersized sugary sodas and other similar foods.
Take a genetic dietitian, for example, having an informal discussion with a geneticist. The geneticist brings up the topic of self-directed evolution, of working with nutritionists and registered dietitians that specialize in genetic and metabolic issues.
The nutritional have-nots \
Genetics researchers actually talk to nutritionists trained in genetic and metabolic nutrition. What the researchers are looking at are genetic subsets that respond to various plant foods, minerals, fatty acids, or proteins. You might even find speakers panels at conventions where genetics researchers and nutritionists discuss the future of foods.
Some diets are tailored to the DNA in some ways, customized to genetic signatures and expressions based on testing that's not complete. You really need to test the entire genome to get the big picture and more of the details.
Nutrition-educated scientists and physicians may speak with genetics experts about self-directed evolution, where genetic technology is used as tools to correct health problems in society. But there's a hidden agenda. The technology also is used to enhance humanity.
That's what's frightening to some. The idea that society has traded the 1910 version of misinformed eugenics for newgenics. Metabolic dietitians know that the genetics experts have such correction going on along with research that's being funded. But who's funded all the gene therapies doing good for so many people with defective chromosomes or gene variations?
When is the nutritionist called in?
It's like walking a tightrope. The nutritionist is not yet called in when there's embryo screening. But is called in when there are numerous genetic therapies. Inherited disease is not wanted, and gene therapy to prevent it is being studied and funded. It's difficult to find out who's doing the funding for the average consumer. There are public records, of course.
What nutritionists, including metabolic and genetic dietitians, are being told by geneticists at conferences and conventions is that modification of genes responsible for adverse behaviors such as aggression and gambling addiction are being studied.
Genetics experts reveal to the dietitians who read their research that the technologies studied now will in the future permit healthier babies stronger and smarter in ways that society can only imagine since hearing of the Human Genome Project. Many of these improvements are available.
The improvements are costly. Parents will pay for correction. That seems to be the road genetics is taking, and careers for metabolic and genetic dietitians have been pulled into the arena of this research by looking at studies of how food switches on good gene tags and hopefully will switch off the risky ones.
Here's another scary part. Correction is expensive. The affluent can afford personalized medicine, including expensive genetic improvements as well as basic genetic corrections to common gene variants causing risks of developing diseases that vary from hypertension to vision problems.
What nutritionists are talking about when they talk back to the geneticists with whom they work is that there's going to be an economic class associated with genetic correction and improvement just as there's an economic class today associated with face lifts, tummy tucks, porcelain veneers, and breast augmentation.
It's about the great economic divide
Just as there's the digital divide between the haves and have-nots, the computer literate and the technology avoidant, the future is pointing in the direction of a great economic divide between personalized elective health care with genetic improvement for those who can afford it, and those on the other side of the divide. The poor will not have access to the type of genetic improvement seen as personalized medicine, nutritionists surmise.
When they point this out to the geneticists, they emphasize that it goes beyond selecting a designer baby. The genetically corrected class will be, they fear, selected for better jobs, insurance, credit, and basic health care resulting in better financial security in old age such as buy outs, pensions, insurance after retirement, and other perks enjoyed by the affluent.
Some metabolic and genetic dietitians may discuss with geneticists the possible future that includes benefits and advantages offered to the genetically correct or corrected. The question is what happens to those on the other side of the genetic divide? You find terms such as 'genelining'. (mentioned on page 442 of the best-selling book, War Against the Weak, by Edwin Black).
The book mentions the possibility of frightening scenarios such as designer babies for those with wealth versus genetic ghettos and a genetic underclass in the chapter, Newgenics. Some of us nutritionists have read the book and imagine talking with geneticists about what the book reports concerning "a sharp societal gulf looming ahead to rival the current inequities of the health care and judicial systems."
Designer babies and smart foods are nothing new, since the Human Genome Project became big news. Nutrition touting smart foods is as much of a branch of genetic technology as personalized healthcare is a branch of predictive medicine. Nutrition and genetics go together as far as researching food as medicine.
Nutrition looks at nature's randomness. So does genetics. Infant gender selection frequently is in the news. Here are some examples in the mass media of infant genetic selection that goes beyond choosing the gender of an infant before conception. "Science May Pave Way For Designer Babies - ABC News.com," 26 December, 2002. Or look in the Los Angeles Times and read the article, "A way to choose a baby's gender," Los Angeles Times," 3 March, 2003.
It goes beyond selecting before conception the gender of a baby for someone who has one boy and wants one girl. You now can choose the features and coloring. And if you have a gene variant that makes you deaf or a dwarf, you can choose to have a deaf or dwarf baby to fit into your family and community. Read the article, "Couple 'choose' to have deaf baby," British Broadcasting Corporation, 8 April, 2002. BBC News | HEALTH |. Or see, "Babies Deaf by Design," The Australian, 16 April, 2002.
In the book, War Against the Weak, on page 442, the author, Edwin Black, reports that a deaf lesbian couple in the Washington, DC area obtained sperm from a deaf man, and produced a deaf baby to fit into their deaf family and community. See: "Children by design: a deaf lesbian couple's decision to intentionally conceive deaf children .... Also read: Children by design: a deaf lesbian couple's decision to intentionally conceive deaf children reignites the debate over "designer" babies. (Parenting). The article is published online at the Free Library site.
The book, War Against the Weak notes that a dwarf couple wants to genetically design a dwarf child. And the book also mentions that a Texas couple wants to genetically customize a baby who will become "a large football player."
In War Against the Weak, on page 442, the book notes "that a West Coast sperm bank caters to Americans who desire Scandinavian sperm from select and screened Nordics." Other related books of note on similar topics include: Procreative compounds: popular eugenics, artificial insemination and the rise of the American sperm banking industry. Golden, Janet, Industry Overview, Sep 22, 2004. 12008, Antimicrobial postexposure prophylaxis for anthrax: adverse events and adherence. (Bioterrorism-Related Anthrax). Rosentein, Nancy, Oct 1, 2002.