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Nutrition + Genomics = Nutrigenomics

Many of you may have a family history which includes certain chronic diseases. In my family, heart disease is the most common along with Alzheimer's disease. Other families may suffer from auto-immune disease or cancer. The genes our parents pass down to us give us the predisposition for certain illnesses. These genes though, are not a pre-determined destiny. We do not have to follow the path towards actually getting the diseases of our parents and grandparents.

Our genes can be influenced by our lifestyle, such as our environmental impacts, stress and nutrition. Over the past decade as the human genome project has accumulated data we can see the impact of nutritional components on certain genes and their ability to turn certain genes on and off.

Food has bioactive components which impact genes as they make proteins to turn up or down their activity. There are many examples in the literature. Alliin, is a compound in garlic which downregulates genes involved with cancer cell proliferation, and upregulates cells which allow us to fight off inflammation. Knowing which foods have the capacity to lower inflammation we can add these to our regular intake. Other foods rich in Alliin include onions, leeks, and radish. Berries and turmeric, are other examples of foods which activate our inflammatory response.

Think about how often you eat fresh foods and herbs? Which genes do you have which could be impacted by your eating? Genetic testing is one way to know what specific genes you may have that can be altered with nutrition. In the meantime, most of us share the same genes and can start eating with nutrigenomics in mind.

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