Influencers, Instagram and Precision Medicine

One of the reasons we have such a need for individualised care has become increasingly apparent in the last decade with the rise of social media, coupled with public interest in health and wellness.


While medical advice in the past may have not been as tailored as necessary for each individual - due in large part to a lack of tests available to medical professionals - the advice you received still came from a qualified professional.


Compare that to 2019 “wellness” where everything from gut health, hair and nails can be improved with a collagen supplement sold to you by a wellness influencer on Instagram. Moreover, even if they aren’t being paid to promote a multivitamin, they are still giving out unqualified diet and lifestyle advice. Advice that may seem harmless but in actual fact could have lasting implications depending on the individual reading it.


We know that a personalised approach to diet and lifestyle is not only the fastest way to improve health outcomes and protect against potential illness or chronic health concerns, but it’s also the safest approach to health care.


Multivitamins


There are many multivitamins available on the market today. While it is true that nutrient availability in our food and soil has decreased over time, the need for supplements should still be assessed on a case-by-case basis.


Different nutrients work together or compete against each other for absorption. Without knowing a person’s nutrient status through testing, we don’t know which nutrients they are lacking. If they are lacking in key nutrients - and they can’t exclusively obtain those nutrients through food - we can target specific nutrients or co-factors to best help with absorption.


One scenario where more is not better, is in the case of folate or methylfolate where too much can actually mask a b12 deficiency. If a person had sufficient folate levels through diet prior to supplementation, it can cause an imbalance in other nutrients. Similarly, certain nutrients such as magnesium are needed to help the body absorb calcium.


As you can see, generalised supplementation can seem harmless while it may in fact be detrimental and certainly isn’t the most effective way to address individualised concerns.


Fad Diets on Instagram


Another trend we see is generalised diet advice on the internet. With the use of genetic testing and the precision medical model we are able to develop a unique plan best suited to a person on a case-by-case basis. No two dietary plans are the same.


Even if two clients would both benefit from a very low carbohydrate diet after testing showed they were poor carbohydrate metabolisers, there are still other factors that would dictate the nuances of their diet. Such as there blood lipid panel and cholesterol results.


Both people may have a similar diet at a macronutrient level, I.e very high fat, moderate protein and low carb. But one person may be genetically predisposed to cardiovascular disease with high total cholesterol. Their diet might need to contain more plant-based fats such as olive oil, olives, nuts and seeds and very little saturated fat from animal products such as butter, bacon and lard. The difference is profound at a risk level. Especially when the representation of a ketogenic diet or a very low carbohydrate diet on the internet typically shows a lot of cheese, bacon, fatty cuts of meat and butter. This approach could actually worsen the health of the client who is predisposed to heart disease.


The bottom line is precision health care allows you to take the guesswork out of your health. It also provides a safeguard against any risks as you are supervised by qualified professionals and treated on an individual basis.



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