Can We Really Take Charge of Our Health Destiny?
For many years there has been a debate over Nature versus Nurture: Environment versus Genetics
Are people overweight due to ‘fat genes’ or is it because of poor diet and exercise habits common to their family or environment? Also, if your parents have a degenerative disease like diabetes or cancer, should you be preparing for the inevitable?
Now, this question has been answered to a degree in the field of Alzheimer’s. In a landmark study, research has shown that a diet high in omega-3 fats reduces the expression of the Alzheimer’s gene APOE4.
This ‘bad’ APOE gene is found in 50 percent of all Alzheimer’s patients and in about 15 percent of the population. Having the APOE4 gene therefore increases your risk of getting the Alzheimer’s disease: a dreaded and deadly form of dementia currently affecting about five million Americans and 500,000 Canadians.
This important study by Prof. Daniel Michaelson of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Neurobiology, shows a diet high in omega-3 oils and low in cholesterol significantly reduces the negative effects of the Alzheimer’s causing APOE4 gene in mice.
Is This Really Surprising?
This is what nutritional advocates like Real food For Life and its readers have known or felt, all along that a good diet can overcome a lot of health challenges – in this case moderate the effects of genes. It is reassuring to have this verified in the news.
Omega-3 fatty acids have already been picked out as affecting an important list of body reactions. In the article N-3 fatty acids and gene expression from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they list the affects of n-3 fatty acids as:
- Decreasing inflammation (read ‘pain’)
- Modulation of molecules or enzymes associated with normal cell function;
- Direct effects on gene expression.
Why Stop There?
All genes are constantly being turned on and off. Even our experiences cause changes in our DNA. As Professor Kendel of the Dolan DNA Learning Center explains: “When you learn something and put it into long-term memory, you alter gene expression, giving rise to alterations in the anatomy of the brain.”
If just a subtle influence on the body – like nerve cells communicating together can alter the chemistry of DNA – think of what nutrition can do! Some foods are also more nutrient dense than others so they would have more effects.
The Power Foods we highlight on this site are full of nutrients. Some of the powerful effects of herbs also comes from this gene process.
Obviously there are limits to this. If you are now 5 feet tall you can never be 6 feet tall no matter how many veggies you consume but we can be sure to function at a higher level.
So let’s do our best; eating food that truly nourishes us rather then diminishing our body.
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