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Nutrigenomics and Epigenetics


Nutrigenomics

Nutrigenomics is the study of how food and supplements, and the nutrients therein, may impact our health and well being. Biomolecular Nutrigenomics is the medical application of this science and is founded upon our personal health issues, unique genetic blueprint and prior risks and exposures. In essence, it is the ultimate personalized treatment program. Since there are numerous ways in which the food we eat or the supplements we take may prove harmful, this makes it crucial to study these food-gene interactions more extensively. Most realize that consuming highly refined, processed foods contributes to obesity. Yet what about the seemingly inconsequential issue of adding folate, a simple B vitamin, to most of our processed foods? Does everyone process folate well and if not, does this have an impact on our health? It just might be that it does. For example, if you are one of the 15% who have the complete MTHFR C677T SNP mutation, your body cannot use certain types of folate and you're much less likely to process certain nutrients that are required in important bodily functions. Moreover, this excess folate may be harmful as it builds up into toxic byproducts. In fact, extensive research in this area recognizes heart disease, Alzheimer's, and even certain cancers as a risk factor due to this genetic defect.


 

Biomolecular nutrigenomics is the evaluation of well characterized chemical pathway so that we may determine how these mutations and typos impact health. For example, in order to properly assess each individual's folate-mutation response, we should have appropriate genetic testing done as well as the chemical parameters involved within this pathway. In doing so, we are able to determine how these deficiencies and substances wreak havoc within the entire system, often leading to signs and symptoms of illness and disease. This is similar to testing your pool or spa's chemical and PH levels. Most are aware that if the PH level is too low, it affects every chemical in the entire system. In fact, when the PH is too low, chlorine is no longer very effective at preventing algae, bacterial, or parasitic overgrowth and the risk for skin, nose, and eye irritation rise significantly. Yet if the chlorine levels are too high, you risk illness from toxic levels that were previously considered harmless. The key is achieving balance and this is essential for our bodies as well. 


For more information, please see UC Davis School of Public Health's nutrigenomics program @ http://nutrigenomics.ucdavis.edu/


Epigenetics

Epigenetics is the study of how the environment and/or methylation pathway influences gene function and gene expression. Methylation is the biochemical community that your DNA resides within and which substantially impacts health and illness. Epigenetics is multifactorial and evaluates the environmental impact of diet, supplementation, infection, stressors, and medical treatment as well as pollution and other toxic exposures on health status and disease outcomes. One of the most intriguing aspects of this evolving field of science is the fact that many other issues impact genetic expression without actually altering the genetic configuration. 

In the early 1990’s, Duke University scientists conducted a well-known study demonstrating this obvious connection, which is now recognized as the “Agouti gene experiment.” Since both humans and mice share the agouti gene, it has been well characterized and known to trigger many of the same health problems. Generally, this gene leads to a ravenous appetite, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and a much shorter life span. Yet in mice, it also creates light yellow coats of fur while all of their offspring share similar fates. During the experiment, researchers fed pregnant agouti mice a diet rich in methyl groups and were surprised to find that the offspring were all normal, slender, and healthy with much darker coats of fur, even while their DNA remained unchanged.

This is just one example of how diet and supplementation can bypass genetic abnormalities so that undesirable genes are not expressed.  Based on such findings, scientists and medical practitioners throughout the world are currently exploring and developing treatment plans for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many neurological disorders. 

DNA is not Destiny: The New Science of Epigenetics Re-writes the Rules of Disease, Heredity, & Identity

http://www.geneimprint.com/media/pdfs/1162334912_fulltext.pdf