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What is Nutrigenomics? And how can it help the arthritic and overweight pets you treat?



Have you heard of the scientific field of nutrigenomics? Did you know that an individual’s genetic predilection for a disease is only part of the equation? 


Whether a disease will manifest depends on complex interactions between an individual’s genome and environmental factors.  And, not surprisingly, diet is one of the most important environmental factors.


The associations between diet and disease have long been recognised, so no doubt you have heard the popular expression “you are what you eat”, and animals are no different.

So what is Nutrigenomics?

Nutrigenomics is the study of the effect of nutrients on gene expression. It looks at what genes are related to specific diseases and whether the expression of those genes can be influenced through changing the nutrient profile of what that individual eats. Our animal friends are excellent subjects for the study of nutrigenomics as their diet is much more controllable (than humans) and, with good compliance, a complete nutrition can be fed as a sole source over long periods.

So how can nutrigenomic technology help pets with arthritis?

Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, is an omega 3 fatty acid that has nutrigenomic effects on the progression of canine osteoarthritis.  Researchers at Cardiff University discovered a dose dependent relationship between EPA and cartilage degradation and thus the nutrigenomic science behind Hill’s j/d was born. EPA, if included in the diet at high enough levels, “switches off” or “down regulates” the genes that code for aggrecanase enzymes, one of the main enzymes responsible for cartilage degradation.  Furthermore, at a clinical level, four Grade 1 peer reviewed published papers, as well as an independent systematic review, have all clearly demonstrated how efficacious j/d is.  


Our feline friends like to be different, of course, so whilst there is a j/d equivalent for cats as well (Feline k/d plus mobility), it harnesses the power of a different omega 3 fatty acid, docosahexanoic acid (DHA). Click here to learn more about feline osteoarthritis.


So, if you are not recommending j/d for your arthritic patients, then understanding the innovative nutrigenomic technology behind the product, and how efficacious it is, may help you appreciate why j/d is different to anything else out there in the market. Click here to learn more about canine osteoarthritis.

Nutrigenomics sets Hill’s Metabolic weight management diet apart

Traditional weight loss diets work on a restricted calorie, low fat, high fibre approach. Metabolic is different. It is an innovative diet which actually works right down at the level of gene expression to regulate appetite and activate a pet’s natural ability to burn excess body fat. Informed by years of nutrigenomic studies, scientists at Hill’s were able to select specific nutrients to help change the unhealthy gene expression of overweight pets to be more like lean pets, literally changing the way they metabolise their food.  


Metabolic is so effective for weight loss – if only there was an equivalent for people! Vets and nurses actually ask us all the time – “Where can we get something like this?” and “What can I eat to have the same effect?”


Well, there is no magic ingredient. Metabolic uses an innovative blend of wholesome ingredients that naturally influence the genes that change metabolism. This synergistic blend includes nutrients such as linolenic acid from flaxseed, beta-carotene from carrots, phytonutrients from tomato pomace and myristic acid from coconut oil.


And as you would expect from Hill’s, the proof is in the clinical trials and in real world pets (like your patients) losing weight more easily than ever before.


So hopefully next time you hear the word nutrigenomics, rather than thinking nutri-what (?), you think Hill’s and about nutrition transforming lives.

By Dr Jennifer Ervin BVSc (Hons) MPH

Jen is a University of Melbourne (UoM) veterinary graduate who spent many years working in private practice, both in Australia as well as overseas, before moving to veterinary industry. She has worked as a professional consulting veterinarian for Hill’s Pet Nutrition for many years, and is actively involved in the educational programs offered by Hill’s and presents across Australia to both vets and nurses.  Jen is also a qualified yoga teacher and gained her Masters of Public Health from UoM in 2019.  Jen lives on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria with her husband and their two girls and their much loved menagerie of pets.  Her interests include hiking, camping, surfing, yoga, dance, good food & travel.

Dr Jennifer Ervin