Epigenetics and Nutrition

Photo by Elli O. on Unsplash

Imagine before you is a large salad, well-seasoned, loaded with bright and colorful vegetables, topped with lightly grilled salmon, and a large glass of water. Beside that dish is another, a heavily processed cheeseburger from any popular fast-food joint, with an extra-large side of fries, and a tall chocolate milkshake. Now, ask yourself, which of these meals do you eat more often? What if someone told you that the choice you made today, between those two meals, would impact not only your current and future health but that of your children and even your grandchildren? Epigenetics, as we previously discussed, is the expression of your DNA. If you were a computer, your DNA would be the hardware, and epigenetics would be the software. So, while other factors (stress, lack of sleep, environmental exposures) also have the ability to impact your genetic expression, nutrition is the one we have the most control over.

Take bees for example. The queen bee is genetically identical to the worker bees, but that is where the similarities end. The queen bee is the only bee capable of reproduction, is generally larger in size, is instinctually driven to kill her rivals, and will live a significantly longer life than her siblings. Studies have shown that the reason for this is nutritionally based. For the duration of her life, a queen bee exclusively eats royal jelly. Royal jelly “turns on” a queen bee’s epigenetic changes. Regular bee larvae only feed on pollen and honey.  Though a drastic example of how nutrition can affect one’s epigenetic expression, it is a real example. Studies continue to see how nutrition affects epigenetic expression. In humans, epigenetic expression is not as cut and dry as it is found in bees. Not only is our epigenetic expression affected by nutrition, but it’s also affected by environmental factors, stress, and any transgenerational inheritance (inherited epigenetic changes) that we receive from our parents or grandparents. In order to account for these individual variations and to customize nutrition, epigenetic evaluation can help determine what specific nutritional needs each of us may have.  Additionally, if we have any problems with our epigenetic expression, the evaluation can also help provide guidance in determining the best nutrition intervention to achieve the changes we are looking for.  With epigenetics, it is possible to match nutrition to genetics for each individual.  That is what customized nutrition is all about.

You may have heard the expression, “you are what you eat.” In this case, it takes on a whole new, complex meaning. Every meal choice you make has the ability to impact your genetic expression through epigenetics.  Epigenetics can provide a significant amount of information in regards to what the body needs.  Many areas can be addressed through a nutritional epigenetic evaluation:

Even food allergy susceptibility in children can be influenced by epigenetics.

No place is this more evident then during pregnancy.  For the most part, the mother’s and father’s epigenetic alterations are wiped clean at the time fertilization.  This gives the developing child a clean slate, genetically speaking, to start with.  Despite the fresh start, this remains a very sensitive time epigenetically.  Recent research has shown that the mothers diet can alter and reprogram the genetic expression of her child.  These epigenetic dietary modulators include:

If you have tried diets in the past that just didn’t work for you, a nutrition epigenetic evaluation may be just what the doctor ordered.  You need to know what will work for your individual epigenetic expression. You need to match your nutrition with your genetics. You may need increased monosaturated fats, or your body may respond better to high polyunsaturated fats.  Crazier yet, you may actually require higher complex carbohydrates or lower protein intake to burn fat.  If you suffer from inflammation, then knowing what your body needs based on your genetics can be exactly what helps to reduce that inflammation.  As we like to say, wellness is a lifestyle, not an event. Dieting is not enough to change your epigenetic expression because diets don’t last. Making customized, long-term nutritional changes (for your body) based on your epigenetics is the key to significantly impacting your health and that of your children, your grandchildren, and the health of future generations as well.

Your optimal wellness potential begins in your epigenetics.  Start your customized epigenetic nutrition program today by calling our office at 865.675.9355.

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