Food Choices Change Our Gene Expression
Without a doubt one of the most important decisions we make on a daily basis is what we choose to eat. Nowadays, those decisions are made all the more complex by the vast panorama of recommendations in the form of books, social media, television, and even advertisements at the point-of-sale.
The broad strokes favoring one recommendation over another involve the various ratios of macronutrients, including fat, carbohydrate, and protein, while the notion of consuming foods rich in the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) seems to be a commonality shared amongst most popular diets.
But we now understand that focusing on macronutrient ratios and content of micronutrients represents significant myopia. The foods we choose to consume are far more then simply metabolic chemicals. Food is information.
Whether your exploration of biology ended in high school or you went on to get a PhD in molecular genetics, each of us was schooled in what has become known as the “central dogma.” This is the tenet that holds that there is a direct flow of information from our DNA directing the production of various proteins that ultimately play fundamental roles in human physiology. Moreover, we were all schooled in the notion that our DNA was an indelible code that would determine everything from the color of our eyes to the ability of our blood to clot. Indeed, the statement, “it’s in my DNA” has been taken to mean that whatever is being referred to is a part of a person’s essence that cannot be altered.
But the expression of our DNA is anything but static. Moment-to-moment, specific genes are being amplified in their expression while others are being silenced – a process that dramatically enhances our adaptive ability to various environmental changes to which we are exposed. The effect of extrinsic factors in changing genetic expression defines the science of epigenetics.
More importantly, it turns out that the changes in the expression of our DNA that will favor either health or disease are, to significant degree, under our direct control. No doubt the notion that we have control of our genetic expression may well seem iconoclastic. But, more importantly, the idea that our choices, in terms of the foods we eat, the exercise we get, and the levels of stress in our day-to-day lives, all influence the expression of our DNA should be looked upon as representing profound empowerment.
Indeed, from the perspective of harnessing the science of epigenetics for health and vitality, by making the right food choices we open ourselves up to a new and virtually uncharted vista.