Today, there is a widely held notion of the universal “healthy” diet: with collective benefits applicable across all individuals. The U.S. federal dietary guidelines have aimed to establish blueprints for proper nutrition, which in theory should apply to all and lead to the same or at least similar results. However, increasing amounts of forthcoming research implicate the one-size-fits-all approach as fundamentally flawed due to its omission of a multitude of vital personal factors including biomarkers, metabolic capabilities, and genetic predispositions.
The FDA recently approved 10 of the personal-genomics company 23andMe’s screening tests for hereditary health risks and diseases, issuing a press release that reads: “These are the first direct-to-consumer tests…that provide information on an individual’s genetic predisposition to certain medical diseases or conditions.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that this step “may be the first shot in a health revolution,” allowing patients to make informed decisions about lifestyle choices, and assist healthcare professionals in their advice and discussions. This marks the first time that patients will not have to go through a physician or healthcare provider to receive information about genetic health risks or makeup.
The screening tests include one for Alzheimer’s, and another for a rare blood disorder. Companies like 23andMe and PatientsLikeMe are already developing new technologies and products so that Americans can further manage and monitor their health, studying databases that utilize information from electronic medical records, wearable devices, and patient surveys combined with their genetic codes. 23andMe has formed partnerships with various organizations in the disease research community, spearheading research that explores new potential genetic risk factors for chronic disease.
Embracing this kind of precision medicine will enable us to mine enormous amounts of data and information, in order to further enhance the health of patients across the globe, and possibly halt disease before it develops and progresses.