Testimony of Dr. Amin Gasmi, researcher
Throughout our history, knowledge has been the subject of contradictory judgments, both by scholars and by common sense. It is a primordial reality that places knowledge in a continuum of transdisciplinarity where there are no limits imposed by what are today called specializations or disciplines. All knowledge is inherently transdisciplinary. This was and still is the role played by those several dozen philosophy books which I was introduced to when I was 12 by my father. I had a more limited understanding than today, but they shaped in me this flame of interdisciplinarity and thereby the desire to learn and understand the world. Integrative medicine is one of the many applications of transdisciplinarity in science.
It was in July 2003 that I obtained my baccalaureate in an Algerian public high school, which is most banal. I was then in a physiotherapy training institute and I had studied there for 3 years. I was destined to work in my mother’s office. An already established clientele, patients jostled by dozens and sometimes by hundreds every day including weekends because with us, no appointments, we worked 7 days a week including holidays. Our firm was known throughout eastern Algeria. I had everything to replace my mother in her large office.
My diploma in masseur-physiotherapist in hand, I returned to work in my mother’s office as planned but it only lasted a year because in 2007, I decided to start a long course in sports sciences in complement to my training as a physiotherapist. I was accepted for the competitive examination for the Higher National Institute of Sports Science and Technology in Algiers. At the time, I wanted to become what we call an exercise physiologist, a journey that without knowing it would open many doors for me, including nutrition because in nutrition, we always come from somewhere. .
In a discussion with my father, he said to me, you must take advantage of your presence in Algiers to train yourself in everything that moves! My father and I (I would learn that later) are what we call high potential (emotional for my father and intellectual for myself). He was telling me back at the office that you will need all these skills. This is how I had obtained my BTS in aesthetics during the weekend in barely 2 years, a license in English in evening classes, and 3 coaching diplomas in 3 different sports specialties. Added to this, all the short-term training that I was able to fit into my schedule which resembled that of a minister, ranging from intensive internships in osteopathy and cupping therapy to neurolinguistic programming and hypnotherapy.
It must be said that I often went beyond the scope of what could really be useful to me in the office. This is how I learned German, a little Russian, computer programming and even trading. To finance all this, I worked as a physiotherapist and 2 years later as a nutritionist with national teams and sports clubs. My black belt karateka journey opened the doors to national teams and martial arts clubs.
My training at AMCC
At the same time, I was desperate to learn about nutrition. There was nothing on nutrition back then other than the few dozen nutrition books at the institute where I was studying. Although I was able to read a few, the same notions were repeated regardless of the language of the book (Arabic, French, English, German…). These books seemed to me unsuitable for the reality on the ground. And then one day, I remembered a site that I had visited by chance in 2005 while researching my physiotherapy thesis, the AMCC site. At the time, I did not yet know that you could do such high quality training 100% remotely.
It must be said that in 2005-2006 there was not much about nutrition on the internet. Only this AMCC website which offered training in alternative medicine, including a new training that was not offered before and which had caught my attention: holistic nutrition. The
Alternative Medicine College of Canada offered this training at the time and until recently. Things went very quickly. After a few weeks I had already started my training in holistic nutrition (in January 2007) and it lasted a year and a half or a little longer.
It must be said that at the time for someone who had no knowledge of nutrition and who at the same time had several other trainings in progress, it required a considerable effort from me at the beginning to follow the first courses of vital hygiene. , health education and nutritional foundations. These notions were new to me. But with every effort a reward, as they say. Beyond the very in-depth knowledge that I had accumulated during this training, I had at the same time learned something more important, the ability to be autonomous and self-taught.
I hadn’t seen it coming during this training, but later realized that largely through this holistic nutrition training, I had subconsciously developed a self-learning methodology that I use. still very spontaneously today as a researcher. In transdisciplinary research, we are always confronted with new knowledge, new approaches, techniques that we do not master and all of this must be understood, mastered and appropriate in record time.
In telling your own personal story, you generally try to make it coherent and logical. However, 9 times out of 10, the reasons we initially believe to be behind our choices are misleading. I will now reveal to you what is the real reason behind this very bubbling journey and often turned upside down by unexpected events. I am currently a researcher and lecturer in nutritional sciences. And from where I see it, I now understand that what motivated me was simply the fun and the urge to learn. It may sound simplistic or even idealistic, but it is the strict reality. I often found myself without money halfway through the month because I had spent it all buying books and attending training seminars. Transdisciplinarity is a great idea for me. No limits in a world as vast as knowledge.
The first black swan I can remember was this Orthomolecular Approaches course in my training as a holistic nutritionist at CMDQ. I remember reading the course material over 30 times and spending everything I had over the next 2 years training in orthomolecular medicine.
It was good because in 2010, the year following the end of my training at the AMCC, Algerian doctors had founded the Algerian Society of Nutrition and Orthomolecular Medicine (SANMO). I was not one of the founders but I had arrived at the right time because all of their speakers, at least initially, were Germans and Austrians. I did translations from German to French during SANMO training seminars and at the same time I was in close contact with world leaders. It must be said that my training in holistic nutrition had allowed me to acquire an exceptional level in nutrition. To this day I still come back to this orthomolecular approaches course as well as sometimes to other courses that have not aged a bit. Training and working as a translator at SANMO allowed me to consolidate my knowledge but above all to forge links and to constitute an embryonic network, which will become my professional network a few years later.
In 2012, I went to France to train myself in research methodology and to explore other horizons. And even during my master’s and doctoral studies, I already gave lectures, trainings, advice to companies producing food supplements and I also received patients and athletes. I must say that the holistic nutrition training was (I’m putting on my trader’s hat) and remains among my top 5 investments today and it is thanks to this passage at AMCC that I was able to launch very quickly in the field of nutritional science.
From Holistic Nutrition to Nutrigenetics
In 2018, I founded with several colleagues (geneticists, biologists, doctors, researchers) the Francophone Society of Nutritherapy and Applied Nutrigénétique (SOFNNA), a learned society with the objective of training health professionals in a new approach to orthomolecular medicine and micronutrition based on the study of metabolic pathways related to nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, hormones, neurotransmitters, etc.). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (kinds of mutations occurring in a single nucleotide in DNA) regulate the speed of metabolic pathways. A metabolic pathway can be very fast (extensive fast metabolizer), fast (fast metabolizer), normal (normal metabolizer), slow (slow metabolizer), or very slow (extensive slow metabolizer). This principle, along with other principles that relate nutritional biochemistry, metabolism and genes, is called nutrigenetics.
In a conference that I gave in Algiers during a SANMO seminar in 2019, I had the opportunity to discuss with the former president of the International Society of Orthomolecular Medicine, Pr Gert Schuitmaker, the discussion was so interesting that we had spent the whole evening discussing (until one in the morning) the importance of creating a revival of orthomolecular approaches by integrating the nutrigenetic approach.
The case of vitamin B9
Among the examples discussed was that of vitamin B9. Folic acid (2nd generation vitamin B9) is still recommended today for pregnant women or patients with vitamin B9 deficiency. The latter has a slow metabolic pathway in humans compared to rats (100 times faster than in humans). Until then, this does not pose any particular problems, in any case no risk according to the data currently available. On the other hand, the
17 to 40% of the world population who present one or more nucleotide polymorphisms of MTHFR (Methyltetrahydrofolate reductase), the enzyme that metabolizes a folic acid substrate encoded by the gene of the same name, in 5MTHF (5-Methyltetrahydrofolate), the bioactive form of vitamin B9, this population group has a higher risk of developing cancers (breast, colorectal, prostate, etc.) because of folic acid.
Two Major Consequences
Indeed, folic acid is not the bioactive form (which is actually 5MTHF) and when MTHFR works at slow speed (15-20% of its normal speed when you are a carrier of the corresponding polymorphism (s)), It is important to understand that this folic acid becomes toxic in several ways including 2 main ones:
Folic acid prevents 5MTHF from binding to these receptors to give the known biological effect of vitamin B9. This is because folic acid exhibits more affinity to the 5MTHF receptor than MTHF itself. However, folic acid does not have a biological effect because it is not the bioactive form of vitamin B9 here. Therefore, a person with MTHFR polymorphisms is already clinically deficient in bioactive vitamin B9 (5MTHF) but will be even more clinically deficient in vitamin B9 when taking folic acid.
The build-up of folic acid is carcinogenic because it is converted to 5MTHF only very slowly when polymorphisms occur, which leads to a decline in NK (Natural Killers) cells. This explains the higher risk of cancers associated with taking folic acid in the general population documented in several studies. The results of the meta-analyzes are contradictory because they include clinical trials that do not necessarily use MTHFR genotyping of patients.
A Custom Path
Each micronutrient has a nutrient pathway. Molecular forms, the rate of intestinal and cellular absorption, the rate of conversion within the nutrient-related metabolic pathway, and the rate of metabolism by the liver and kidneys are processes that allow dosages to be estimated, to propose forms and synergies more adapted and more personalized according to the genetics and the metabolism of the individual and thus to bypass the genetic polymorphisms present in the individual. Genetics therefore becomes a means to understand and restore the proper functioning of the metabolism and not as conventionally understood, something static about which we can do nothing. In the case of vitamin B9, the solution is simple: take 5MTHF (4th generation vitamin B9) instead of folic acid. In other cases, it is more complex, but there are always adapted and personalized solutions when you become an expert in metabolism.
We publish studies regularly within SOFNNA
SOFNNA also aims to produce scientific publications in the field of nutritional sciences and integrative medicine. With my colleagues, in a year and a half, we have published about twenty studies, including 7 concerning the Covid and 2 (which are specific to me) on the application of artificial intelligence in the management of the Covid pandemic. As part of my activities, I was also able to develop an application for measuring heart rate variability (Precision HRV) available on Google play and Apple Store. This is my second area of expertise and my second black swan as well. I would be happy to talk to you about it another time. Currently, we have submitted 14 other studies for publication and 6 more are in preparation.
From Nutrigenetics to Pharmacogenetics
In short, the nutrigenetician is an expert in nutritional metabolism. A similar discipline exists in pharmacology, pharmacogenetics. The same concepts and principles are used but applied to drugs. For a year now, we have started another titanic project which integrates both nutrigenetics and pharmacogenetics. This makes it possible to study nutrient-drug interactions. A nutritherapist does not have the vocation to take care of the drugs taken by his patient, huge mistake! There isn’t conventional medicine on one side and nutritherapy on the other, remember … transdisciplinarity. There are cases of very serious or very beneficial nutrient-drug interactions – which I could not discuss here – to know and master even if you are not a doctor. A nutritherapist, a naturopath or any health practitioner does not have the competence to prescribe drugs but he must know their interactions with the tools he uses.
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