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Greens and Genes: The New Science of Health Through Food

posted on 11/10/2016 Facebook Facebook

Most peoplerecall with a bit of eye-rolling that frequent mealtime parental directive to“eat your vegetables”. Little did we know that years later, those dailyentreaties would prove to be life-saving. The new news is that the latestscience shows that food can actually alter your genes and send messages to therest of the body, as well as affect the quality and quantity of your lifespan.How is this so?

Back in the1990’s, scientists began to realize that DNA was not necessarily destiny as itrelated to common conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.Lifestyle habits and environmental influences became recognized as having apotent capacity to either activate or silence genes.

This wasground-breaking news and a game changer in the field of health and wellnesswhere the new message transformed from one of despair over one’s geneticendowment to one of empowerment -- choose a healthy lifestyle, alter genes positivelyand as a result, optimize your ability to decrease disease and disability.

The genome comprisesthe entire load of our hereditary information, and is packaged in our DNA whichcontains countless stretches of genes that are either fairly immutable (e.g.,height, eye color) or are flexible (e.g., you have the potential to becomeobese or diabetic, or develop heart disease).  For years geneticists haveconcerned themselves with what is happening inside thegene to affect our lives. The epigenome involves what is going on “epi” around the “gene” to influence itsexpression.

Surrounding each gene are proteins called histones. New researchhas revealed that histones are actually the script writers for the gene,monitoring your actions, wrapping around each gene and writing a script ofinstructions for it to follow. Histones are influenced by every thought (toxicstress vs calm meditation), mouthful (junk food vs healthy food) and step(couch potato vs regular walker) we take. Each action causes the histones toalter how that gene will “speak” to the rest of the body (genetic expression).Positive, productive changes are induced through a process called methylationin which methyl (CH3)groups are added to the DNA by some action you choose to do (for example,eating broccoli instead of a cheeseburger). This results in either a partial orcomplete quieting of a gene that would normally have left you with a high riskfor a negative health outcome, such as cancer, for instance.

Don’t worry just remember “health through food”.

Here’s a sampling:

Nutrient

Food Origin

Methionine

Sesame seeds, brazil nuts, fish, peppers, spinach

Folic Acid

Leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, baker''s yeast, liver

Vitamin B12

Meat, liver, shellfish, milk

Vitamin B6

Meats, whole grain products, vegetables, nuts

Choline

Egg yolks, liver, soy, cooked beef, chicken, veal and turkey

Betaine

Wheat, spinach, shellfish, and sugar beets

Resveratrol

Red wine

Genistein

Soy, soy products

Sulforaphane

Broccoli

Butyrate

A compound produced in the intestine when dietary fiber is fermented

Diallyl sulphide (DADS)

Garlic

 

This new science helps you reframe your entire relationship withfood. Sure, you’ll be getting wonderful vitamins, minerals and other nutrients,as well as water and fiber. Yes, the lean protein is great to build andmaintain your muscles. But now, as you shop for groceries, suddenly there’sanother extraordinary benefit--- you’re making your histones happy, producinggifted genes that lead to lively longevity.

Another side benefit to is to fall in love with cooking.You cannot rely upon dashboard dining and grab ‘n go junk food for yoursustenance if you want happy histones. Consuming processed food leads toself-destructive genetic expression. Instead, hop back into the kitchen andmake room for three bean soups, colorful salads, and savory meats and fish.Whether vegetarian or flexitarian, prepare your foods with loving care andenvision your genes directing a stronger immune system, as well as better bloodsugar and cholesterol control.

Further, if you add moderate regular physical activity, likewalking, you’ll further quiet destructive genes.  Research has shown thatsimply walking an accrued 30-45 minutes per day can dampen the most powerfulobesity gene in humans by 40%. Add healthy nutrition and suddenly DNA is nolonger destiny. Your lifestyle choices are. Remember that:

Genetics may load the gun, but environment and lifestyle pullthe (epigenetic) trigger.

Indeed, you are what you eat…with an epigenetic twist. Make thegreens and genes connection. Live a life of health through food, keep yourhistones happy, and your genes on a mission of wellness. Bon appetit!

 

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