Healthy food may not help

Last updated 16:15 26/05/2010

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Eating food you dislike just because of its supposed benefits might not actually be doing you any good, research shows.

Scientists have discovered that a person's genetic makeup determines which foods are good for them. That means people will not all experience the same health benefits from the same foods.

Auckland University is currently hosting a "nutrigenomics" conference for scientists and nutritionists from around the Asia Pacific region, where discussing how the research can be used to help people suffering from illnesses is taking centre stage.

Nutrigenomics is a growing research area where scientists study how individuals respond to different foods depending on their genes.

Professor Lynn Ferguson, the head of nutrition at Auckland University, said the developments helped explain why some people did not see benefits when they changed their diet to one they had been told was better for them.

"There's always been a proportion of people dieticians think might be cheating because they don't respond."

A nutrigenomics research programme was underway in Auckland which would help sufferers of the "debilitating" Crohn's disease, which Ferguson said there was a high instance of in New Zealand.

In some centres the illness, which causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, affected one in 325 people, who were usually prescribed drugs and often needed surgery.

Good nutrition was recommended for sufferers, but Ferguson said it would now be possible to tailor a diet which would help sufferers according to their genetic makeup.

Babies born into a family where other people suffered from Crohn's's disease would also have genetic testing done and Ferguson they could be prescribed specific diets which could mean they never develop the disease.

Also speaking at the conference is Michael Fenech, the principal research scientist at CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences in Australia.Fairfax

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- The Dominion Post

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