Personalisation is one of the TOP 10 Nutrition trends of the coming years. And what does this mean in real life situations? Rachel Clarkson is a London based Consultant Dietitian and specialised in nutrigenomics. She has partnered with Nutrigenomix, a Canada based company for DNA testing, to provide DNA-driven personalized dietary recommendations to the clients of her clinic.
Rachel, you are a dietitian and started your own consultancy. How did you get there?
I've always been fascinated by the workings of the human body and an undergraduate degree in Biomed allowed me to build a great foundation for this - especially genetics. I was particularly interested in wellness optimization and understood that the way we nourish our bodies had to play a part. A Master of Science in Nutrition and then a further post-graduate diploma in Dietetics at Kings College London opened up a whole new world of prevention and management of the disease. I went on to publish my research in genetics and nutrition, started work in the NHS and then attended a conference in San Francisco in Personalised Nutrition which inspired me to take a course in Nutrigenomics at Monash University - which I believe was the beginning of my career as a Consultant Dietitian in the area. My clinic is based on Harley Street in London where I empower clients with personalized dietary recommendations, based on their DNA.
You are specialized in the nutrigenomics science of cardiometabolic conditions, weight management and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Can you share your approach?
I believe and research has identified the huge part modifier genes have to play on the way we all respond to nutrients. One size doesn’t fit all and nutrigenomic insights allow me to make personalized recommendations according to what fits best for individual patients. We know that certain genes affect the way people respond to nutrients that are associated with an increased risk of cardiometabolic conditions and weight management. This type of analysis plays a big part in an assessment of a patient and is one piece of a puzzle that guides an action plan to supporting a patient to achieve their goal. IBS management is a little trickier because we can only test for predispositions to gluten and lactose intolerance with nutrigenomics so I use this in combination with evidence-based dietary advice, biochemistry and food challenges.
You are passionate about evidence-based personalized nutrition. Why is this important?
Nutrition advice that isn’t based upon robust evidence or is anecdotal can be very damaging to an individual's health. Patients trust in their practitioner to be an expert and therefore recommendations must have scientific backing and that requires using biotechnology testing companies that are evidenced-based – something that is hard to find in such a saturated market of extremely poor testing companies.
What is nutrition for you?
Nutrition is my passion, mission, vocation, and profession - what the Japanese call ikigai.
Do you have a role model and how does this role model inspire you?
Mariette Abrahams is a Registered Dietitian and business consultant in Personalised Nutrition. She invited me to San Francisco to join her at the International summit of Personalised Nutrition and inspired me to start my practice as a Nutrigenomic Specialist.
This interview was carried out by Simone K. Frey who has become a fan of Rachel since they met in Cologne during Nutrition X summit.