We all know that our genetic code is the blue print for our looks, characteristics, traits and more. However, more and more research on how the environment (stress, nutrition, living conditions) also has an effect on the expression of our genes. Certain genes that we carry can either go expressed or unexpressed in our lifetime. For example, the gene for cancer can be turned “on or off” by certain environmental factors. We are learning that eating vegetables, cruciferous vegetables in particular, can aid in keeping the cancer gene turned off. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli cabbage and cauliflower, carry certain phytochemicals that act as “modulators” in prostate cancer genes. This means that the phytochemicals can keep a cancer gene switch turned off. That’s pretty cool……quite impressive in fact.
When your mamma told you to eat your vegetables, she knew what she was talking about! Phytochemicals are neither a mineral or a vitamin, but are in a league of their own. For example, lycopene found in tomatoes protect against prostate cancer. The 2003 study was able to show that women with high phytochemical intake were at a much lower risk than their peers to develop ovarian cancer. (The American Society for Nutritional Sciences Journal of Nutrition). In yet another study of rats, 2 genetically identical rats grew to be very different. These rats have a gene that makes them yellow in color and obese in size. However, the rat who’s mother’s diet included folic acid (B12), choline cloride and anhydrous betaine grew to be brown in color and smaller in size, despite being fed the same diet as it’s peers. The diet fed to the skinny rats mother that included the mentioned compounds aids in what is called methylation. Methylation, in short, changes access to DNA in a gene. (This is definitely the cliff notes version, for more in depth explanation please see sources below). So what your mom ate or experienced while pregnant with you can still have an influence on you now. (Expectant mothers, take note!).
The bottom line is that eating a nutritious menu may help you lose weight, but it really can influence your overall health all the way down to your genes (and blue jeans!). Go load up your plate with a beautiful array of vegetables today.
“Cracking the Metabolic Code” by Dr. James Lavalle