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The Connection Between Nutrition & the Epigenome

Nutrition is considered to be one of the most well-understood environmental factors associated with changes in the epigenome. Nutrients in the foods we eat are processed by our metabolism and turned into energy. One metabolic pathway, however, is responsible for producing methyl groups or fundamental epigenetic marks that regulate our gene expression. Essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, SAM-e (S-Adenosyl methionine), and folic acid are important components in this methylation process. Diets with high amounts of these essential nutrients can quickly change gene expression, especially during early development. In the following article, we will discuss the connection between nutrition and the epigenome.

 

Nutrigenomics and Health

 

Healthcare professionals discuss that when it comes to dealing with health issues like inflammation and chronic pain, understanding how nutrigenomics affects our overall health is important. Nutritional genomics, or nutrigenomics, is a science that studies the relationship between nutrition, health, and the genome. Researchers in the nutrigenomics field believe that changes in epigenetic marks may be associated with a variety of health issues, including inflammation or the development of diseases like obesity, heart problems, and cancer. Studies have demonstrated that we may be able to control the effects of the nutrients we eat in order to change gene expression associated with various health issues.

 

Approximately more than 1 out of 3 adults in the United States have been diagnosed with obesity which ultimately increases the risk of a variety of health issues, including prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, among other diseases. Previous studies have demonstrated that changes in epigenetic marks during early development may even predispose individuals to obesity. Moreover, changes in epigenetic marks were also demonstrated to affect metabolic pathways that may increase the risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Healthcare professionals in the nutrigenomics field have created new ways to be able to better find balance through a wholesome understanding of nutrition and the epigenome.

 

“An epigenetic test can provide data that is useful for healthcare professionals. It may also offer information about how certain metabolic pathways are affected by essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals”.

 

What is the Epigenetics Diet?

 

The term “epigenetics diet” was first coined by Dr. Trygve Tollefsbol in 2011. It is medically defined as a group of compounds, such as resveratrol in red grapes, genistein in soybeans, isothiocyanates in broccoli, and many other well-known types of foods, which have been demonstrated to help change epigenomic marks and gene expression. According to researchers, the epigenetics diet can prevent the progression of tumors by regulating enzymes that control these epigenomic marks and gene expression, including DNA methyltransferases, histone deacetylases, and certain non-coding RNAs. Several types of foods included in the epigenetics diet are demonstrated in the following infographic:

 

Image of the epigenetic diet.

 

Researchers used recently advanced technologies that demonstrated how several bioactive compounds may aggravate damage to the epigenome caused by environmental pollutions. By way of instance, dietary supplementation with methyl donors, such as vitamin B12, choline, and folate, among others, as well as the isoflavone genistein, can regulate changes to epigenome marks and gene expression caused by bisphenol A, a hormone-disrupting chemical. B vitamins may also prevent the loss of DNA methylation caused by air pollution. According to these same studies, dietary supplementation with folic acid has also been demonstrated to help prevent the negative side-effects caused by heavy metals.

 

We believe that foods in the epigenetics diet could be used to counteract changes to gene expression and epigenomic marks caused by environmental pollution. Environmental pollutants in several types of foods, such as pesticides in fruits like strawberries and leafy greens like spinach, bisphenol A in the plastic containers of foods and drinks, dioxins in fatty foods, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons produced when meat is grilled or smoked at high temperatures, and mercury in several types of seafood like king mackerel and swordfish, have been associated with changes to epigenomic marks and gene expression. Those exposures, especially during early development, may cause various health issues.

 

For more information regarding the connection between nutrition and the epigenome, please review this article:

Nutrition and the Epigenome

 


 

Nutrition is one of the most understood environmental factors associated with changes in epigenomic marks and gene expression. Essential nutrients found in the different types of foods we eat are metabolized and turned into molecules in order to be used for energy by the human body. One metabolic pathway is responsible for creating methyl groups, important epigenetic marks that regulate our gene expression and epigenomic marks. Essential nutrients, including B vitamins, SAM-e (S-Adenosyl methionine), and folic acid are fundamental components in DNA methylation. Diets that are rich in these essential nutrients can quickly change epigenetic marks and gene expression, especially during early development. Furthermore, adding a variety of good foods to a smoothie can be a fast and easy way to add essential nutrients to your diet. Below is a fast and easy smoothie recipe to help feed your genes. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insights

 


 

Image of ginger greens juice.

 

Ginger Greens Juice

Servings: 1
Cook time: 5-10 minutes

• 1 cup pineapple cubes
• 1 apples, sliced
• 1-inch knob of ginger, rinsed, peeled and chopped
• 3 cups kale, rinsed and roughly chopped or ripped
• 5 cups Swiss chard, rinsed and roughly chopped or ripped

Juice all ingredients in a high-quality juicer. Best served immediately.

 


 

Image of smoothie with nasturtium flower and leaves.

 

Add Nasturtium to Your Smoothies

 

Adding nasturtium flowers and leaves to any smoothie can add extra nutrients. These lovely plants are easy to grow and the entire plant is edible. Nasturtium leaves are high in vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system, and they also contain calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and iron. According to healthcare professionals, the extract from the flowers and leaves have antimicrobial, antifungal, hypotensive, expectorant, and anticancer effects. Antioxidants in garden nasturtium occur due to its high content of compounds such as anthocyanins, polyphenols, and vitamin C. Due to its rich phytochemical content and unique elemental composition, the garden nasturtium may be used in the treatment of a variety of health issues, including respiratory and digestive problems. Not to mention, the flowers and leaves look absolutely lovely in smoothies.

 


 

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

 

Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T.

 

References:

 

  • Kirkpatrick, Bailey. “Epigenetics, Nutrition, and Our Health: How What We Eat Could Affect Tags on Our DNA.” What Is Epigenetics?, What Is Epigenetics? Media, 11 May 2018, http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/epigenetics-nutrition-health-eat-affect-tags-dna/.
  • Li, Shizhao, et al. “The Epigenetics Diet: A Barrier against Environmental Pollution.” On Biology, BMC Media, 23 May 2019, blogs.biomedcentral.com/on-biology/2019/05/20/the-epigenetics-diet-a-barrier-against-environmental-pollution/.
  • Learn. Genetics Staff. “Nutrition & the Epigenome.” Learn. Genetics, Learn. Genetics Media, learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/nutrition/.

 

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