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Genetics may define diets of the future
Scientists look at how personalized nutrition could change how and what we eat
By Carrie Peyton Dahlberg - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Monday, October 15, 2007
Deep in each person's genetic code may lie the answers to which medicines can help them, which environmental
toxins can kill them, and even which foods they should eat to live well.
The tantalizing prospect of personally tailored diets, dictated by our genetic makeup, drew hundreds of scientists
and dietitians from around the world to UC Davis over the weekend for a conference on nutritional genomics.
The fast-growing field "will be huge," said Jim Kaput, who next month will take over as head of the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration's division of personalized nutrition and medicine. "We are definitely not ready for it."
In interviews, Kaput and other conference speakers said that as the cost of creating individual genetic profiles
drops, doctors, dietitians and consumers will be able to get massive amounts of data about themselves.
The challenge will be figuring out what to do with it.
"Eating for your genotype is probably decades away," said Judith Gilbride, a nutrition professor at New York
University who last year was president of the American Dietetic Association.
Genes interact with each other and with the environment in so many ways that it will be a long, slow slog toward
advice so specific that you're told to eat more broccoli while your neighbor is advised to opt for oranges.
What's likely to come first are potentially valuable snippets of information.
In a study that made headlines last year, researchers zeroed in on a genetic variation that affects how quickly
different people process caffeine.
They found that people who drink lots of coffee but metabolize caffeine slowly face a greater risk of heart attacks
than those wh