AUTHOR: Dr. Jason Bush
Personalization is an emerging concept in health and well-being, and takes into consideration people’s individual differences when prescribing medications or health advice. Generally, these differences are genetic ones, reflecting the unique combination of DNA sequences that helps shape our appearance and physiology. Since the expression of genes encoded by DNA can be influenced by our surroundings, personal experiences and environmental exposure may also factor into personalized medicine.
How does personalized medicine work? Scientists sequence your DNA and look for changes in the code that are known to be associated with disease, with dietary limitations, or are present in people who have adverse reactions to drugs. And this approach is not limited to humans. For example, dogs with a mutation in the gene MDR1 should never be given the anti-diarrhea drug Loperamide because it will cause severe neurotoxicity.
Personalized medicine also seeks to use genetic information in a preventative way, aiming to pinpoint therapies that will work best for you. While these are exciting advancements, the human genome is a vast sea of information and our understanding of the relationship between changes in the DNA sequence and therapeutic approaches remains limited.
Personalized Health is a different but related concept. While accepting that every person is a product of their genes, both those ‘good’ and ‘bad’, personalized health seeks wellness through dietary choices, physical activity, and conducting ourselves in accordance with guiding principles. By experimenting with various foods, cooking methods, exercise routines, and approaches to mindfulness, personalized health advocates that each person can reach their own pinnacle of well-being.
Perhaps the most promising applications of personalized health may relate to the cells in our body that are foreign. In any given person, the human cells are vastly outnumbered by bacterial cells, specifically those that make up the gut microbiome. And research continues to reveal that those friendly co-habitants play important roles in many aspects of our health. One day, it may be possible to take cocktails of specific probiotics in an effort to prevent diseases by promoting a healthy gut microbiome.
Until then, you can take a different approach: While we don’t yet have an exhaustive list of probiotics and their respective benefits, we know that many types of Bifidobacteria are present in the microbial ecosystems of healthy people. Here, these bacteria promote multiple health benefits via the Bifidogenic Effect and may even help prevent serious diseases. Importantly, the Bifidogenic Effect can be stimulated by supplementing with certain prebiotics.
Prebiotics give you the power to improve your gut microbiome and the wide variety of prebiotic products derived from various sources make it possible for anyone to incorporate these supplements into their Personalized Health routine.