Ever wondered why the Keto, Pegan (Paleo/Vegan) or 5:2 diet works wonders for some and not others? It could be less to do with willpower and more to do with genes, according to a leading expert on culinary genomics.

Nutrigenomics is the science of how food interacts with our genes. The new area of “culinary genomics” takes this nutrition science out of the lab and places it firmly in the kitchen, using your DNA to determine what you should put on your plate and even how to cook it.

Dietitian and culinary genomics pioneer Amanda Archibald said few things had a more powerful impact on our genes than food.

“We all have distinct variants on our genes, which is why some people find it harder to lose weight and others may be prone to gut problems. It’s also why one-size-fits-all fad diets don’t work for everyone,” she added. “To embrace this, we need to forget fad diets and take a personalised approach to what we put on our plates, eating for our bodies and our genes.”

“Through culinary genomics, we can influence our genes to boost our metabolism of fat and sugars, help the natural detox process, optimise gut health and increase protection against age-related diseases.”

Try her top seven tips to eating for your genes:

The basics

Don’t eat the same foods day in, day out. Each ingredient has a unique nutrition signature and variety is important. Try to choose a wide variety food, mixing up cooked and raw ingredients, with an emphasis on cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, herbs and spices.

Master genes

Our master genes (considered potentially more influential than other genes) direct and determine the efficiency of important processes in the body, such as how we handle inflammation, oxidative stress, detoxification and we metabolise fats and carbohydrates. Foods that activate (or deactivate) these genes include blueberries, grapes, kale, onion, turmeric, watermelon, apples, leeks, edamame, bok choy, cabbage and radishes. Try to eat some of these foods every day.

Oxidative Stress

Vegetables from the cruciferous family – broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts – reduces the burden of oxidative stress which can lead to inflammation, but their effectiveness depends on how you prepare them. When you cut these vegetables, you activate a natural chemical process that produces the phytochemical sulforaphane. This natural plant compound helps to switch on powerful antioxidant genes that fight oxidative stress. To maximise sulforaphane, you need to chop up your cruciferous veggies and let them sit in a bowl for about an hour before cooking.

Burn fat

The gene SIRT-1 is the “master of the metabolic universe” because it interacts with a number of genes that can ignite our fat burning potential. Red grapes and even red wine contain the antioxidant resveratrol, which can help activate this gene.


Other foods provide the essential nutrients that ensure the smooth running of essential biochemical cycles in our bodies - one of these is the removal of toxins. So add Brazil nuts, spinach, mushrooms, avocado, oranges, eggs and sunflower seeds to the shopping basket.


There’s no need for exotic superfoods. Lentil and sesame seeds for example, have a large number of vitamins and minerals that support the work of proteins created by our genes and are needed for good health.

Gut health

Pay extra attention to ingredients like kombucha, asparagus, yoghurt, miso and tempeh. These are essential to the inner workings of your gut. A healthy gut is a healthy body. We need a healthy gut to absorb all the key nutrients from foods and maximise the genomic process.

Before making changes to your diet always consult a dietitian or a healthcare professional.

Ms Archibald, founder of the Genomic Kitchen, will be speaking at the 7th BioCeuticals Research Symposium in May, to share her unique culinary genomics approach with more than 500 Australian health professionals.

© Prevention Australia