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People Under-Going Genetic Testing to be Accompanied by Trained Professionals

The British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) supports the call  by Southampton University, Exeter University and Southampton Hospital (published in the BMJ https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l5688) for individuals choosing to undertake genetic testing to be accompanied by trained health professionals.

Personalised healthcare is at the beginning of a genetic revolution with the decoding of the wealth of information that lives within us. Nutrigenetics, nutrigenomics and epigenetics are emerging sciences that are already having an enormous impact on all our lives and have a fundamental effect on the way BANT Registered Nutrition Practitioners manage their client’s health. Genetic testing can be used to optimise health rather than identifying disease risk.

The University of Southampton publication highlights important shortcomings with Direct-to-Consumer testing and misinterpretation of results with potentially devastating effects and distress. Completing the test with appropriately trained health professional will help to put the results in context.

In 2014 BANT launched its Register of Nutrigenetic Counsellors, following a commitment to the Human Genetics Commission to set up an advanced practice register covering nutrigenetic counselling, following the HGC’s ‘Genes Direct’ reports in 2003 and 2007.

Nutritional therapy and nutrigenomics are linked and BANT Nutrition Practitioners are finding themselves at the cutting edge of scientific knowledge and its application in practice. Genetics and nutrigenomics can be very sensitive subjects and it is vitally important that nutrition practitioners understand the whole picture, what test they should be recommending, how this translates to gene expression and how to explain it to their clients appropriately, safely and legally. Dietary and lifestyle interventions will have more impact on wellbeing than focusing on any gene in isolation. Nature vs. nurture debate continues but, in the meantime, genetic testing can help to optimise the nurture to inform personalised dietary and lifestyle recommendations for optimal wellbeing.

BANT registered nutrition practitioners take into account individuality that enables personalisation of dietary advice based on the most up-to-date research available. They do not suggest ‘one-size-fits-all’ advice following the health trend of the moment. To find a BANT registered nutrition practitioner click here: http://bant.org.uk/bant/jsp/practitionerSearch.faces