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Your Biochemical Individuality & You

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

Five individuals can present with the same symptoms of anxiety or depression but have five different underlying causes. These underlying causes can range from genetics, inflammation, stress, diet, neurotoxins, and nutrient absorption.

Yet medication or prescriptions from most traditional medical practitioners will be the same for all five people. This is because traditional medicine has yet to acknowledge biochemical individuality- a person's unique nutritional requirements. They are impacted by our genetics, lifestyle, and environmental exposure to various stressors. The way your body uses amino acids, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, and fats is completely unique to you.

Food for thought:

Before delving into biochemical individuality, it is important to recognize the complex link between our brain and our diet.

The brain never gets a second off. It is constantly forming our thoughts and movements, our senses, our breathing, and our heartbeat. In order to perpetually perform, our brain relies on a constant supply of fuel. This fuel stems from the food we eat, and the type of food we eat directly impacts the quality of our brain fuel.

High-quality foods with lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are the best type of brain fuel. It will protect the brain from oxidative stress while nourishing the brain. On the other hand, “low-premium” fuel from processed or highly refined foods does not allow the brain to function optimally. Not only will low-premium food prevent the brain from operating at maximum capability, but it will also harm the brain. Foods high in refined carbs, sugars, chemicals and inflammatory fats increase free radicals. These damaging inflammatory cells circulate within the brain injuring brain tissue and producing symptoms of depression and other mood disorders.

Your diet and depression:

The common Western diet is, unfortunately, one of the worst diets for brain health. The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, is one of the best. The many health benefits are due to the abundant vegetables and fruits, unprocessed grains, fish and seafood, and lean meat content. Compared to the Western diet, people following the Mediterranean diet have a 25-35% lower risk of developing depression.

Not only does the Mediterranean diet contain many micronutrients, it also contains natural probiotics. Promoting good bacteria in the gut’s microbiome will assist our gut in the production of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin, are responsible for delivering messages from the gut to the brain via the Vegas Nerve. When our gut is healthy and receiving proper fuel, these positive messages are sent straight to the brain and our emotions reflect it. But when the gut’s function is sent awry by foods high in sugars and carbohydrates, your mood will be affected as well.

The role of genetics:

As mentioned above, everyone’s dietary needs are unique. This is largely impacted by your genes. Your genes will affect how well your body can absorb minerals and vitamins, metabolize dietary stimulants, and regulate micronutrients. Essentially, your genes offer a guidebook on how and what you should be eating to operate at maximum capacity.

Many people have genetic vulnerabilities that require higher doses of nutrients.

The only way to access and understand this guidebook is through genetic testing. A nutrigenomic plan will discern all the foods you should and should not eat and will offer insight into what nutrients your body needs to supplement. Your genes also determine which chronic illnesses you’re at a heightened risk of.

For example:

  • Zinc is very important in regulating dopamine transporter. There are several genes, SLC30A8 and IL-6, that impact how well your body can process zinc. Variations in these genes can lead to zinc deficiencies without proper supplementation.

  • Vitamin D is required to make serotonin and dopamine via the rate-limiting enzymes. Having optimal levels of Vitamin D is dependant on the VDR gene, the GC gene, and DHCR7. These genes offer instructions for absorbing, carrying, and activating Vitamin D receptors. Variants in this gene will cause vitamin D deficiencies.

  • B6 is necessary for almost all major neurotransmitters for synthesis and optimal functioning. Variations in the ALPL gene will determine how proficient your body is at breaking down and absorbing vitamin B6. The MTHFR gene will impact how you process B6. A defective MTHFR gene can lead to deficiencies.

  • The MTHFR gene will impact how well your body creates an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This enzyme is essential for processing amino acids- the building blocks of proteins as well as neurotransmitter production and breakdown

Because of biochemical individuality, testing for optimal levels is extremely important. This is why the Recommended Dietary Allowance, which was created by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, is unreliable. Your dietary needs are not the same as anyone else.

Everyone should have access to the tools and knowledge to guide you to optimal health. Nutrigenomics is the only way to truly know your unique biochemical individuality. To learn more about nutrigenomics at the Johnson Center, click here.

Through DNA testing, we can precisely identify the patterns and imbalances of your unique metabolism and use nutrients to suppress the expression of disease, illness, and other unhealthy patterns. If you're interested in genomic testing, click here to learn more! Or contact our office at

The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!