SHERIDAN — A registered dietitian in Sheridan is the only one in the state to offer a new genetic test that can identify DNA markers that can be used to provide individualized nutrition advice.
Georgia Boley of Tailored Nutrition, LLC, said the Nutrigenomix Personalized Nutrition Assessment measures seven different indicators of how a person’s body metabolizes different nutrients.
The genetic test is derived based on research done at the University of Toronto and was licensed for application in the United States in March to be offered to the public only by RDs. The test analyzes DNA extracted from a saliva sample to determine the unique way the person being tested is genetically predisposed to metabolize nutrients. For example, some people have a genetically assigned tendency to process folate in a less efficient way, which might mean they should eat more of it for optimal heart health.
“You’re genetically wired to be a certain way,” Boley explained. “Based on your genes, you may not make enough enzymes to make nutrients into their active form.”
Boley said that while some genetic tests could reveal a physiological destiny that is set in stone, the Nutrigenomix test looks for modifier genes that are Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms. These gene variants alone don’t do much, but they modify our response to different nutrients.
“They’re not scary genes in my mind,” Boley said. “They’re genes that can be modified.”
While Boley’s background in nutritional counseling has historically been in clinical settings, she hopes to expand her new practice to include more preventative nutritional work for wellness, sports nutrition and optimizing cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.
Boley said she sees the genetic test as another tool in her kit for nutritional counseling. While there are countless fad diets and nutritional programs that come in and go out of style quickly, she feels DNA analysis is the next step, and that it is here to stay.
“The reports are very evidence-based,” she said, adding that presently, there have been at least two peer-reviewed independent clinical studies for each of the seven gene-based nutrition messages and their link to metabolic functioning. She said more information regarding what the test reveals may become available when more research is completed.
“There’s enough scientific evidence that these messages are appropriate,” she said.
After the unique characteristics of a client’s genetic makeup have been identified, Boley can tailor dietary recommendations to individual clients.
“Just as unique as we are on the outside, we’re unique on the inside, metabolically,” she said, adding it’s possible for her to offer genetically-based nutritional counseling without meeting a client in person — the test can be done via mail, and the results can be delivered over the phone.
Boley said she plans to work with the University of Wyoming Research and Extension and private physicians to decipher how genetic testing for nutrition optimization can be used in Sheridan.