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Nutrigenomics: the Genetic power of Food


Have you ever wondered about how a good diet or a bad diet could affect your body?

I’m not just talking about how nutrition can play a role in how you feel or how the number of calories in and the number of calories out can affect the size of your waist-line. I’m talking about how food can affect the literal makeup of your body.   Food is a language that communicates with your DNA.

A new study out in the journal, Genomics, entitled, “Plant miRNAs found in human circulating system provide evidence of cross-kingdom RNAi,” offers a perspective that may be surprising…and may change your thinking next time you’re considering eating a baker’s dozen of donuts or heading to the farmer’s market.

Basically, plant microRNAs have been found in the blood of humans. This is causing, what the authors of this study call, “cross-kingdom RNA interference.”

For this to really sink in, you may want to know exactly what microRNA is. Ribonucleic Acid or RNA is the intermediate step between DNA on the way to protein production. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a major family of small RNAs that are ~23 nucleotides-long single strands of RNA that bind to mRNA transcripts to inhibit their translation into protein. Studies have shown that miRNA is introduced into the body by dietary intake, gut absorption, and then systemic circulation.

Why is this “cross-kingdom RNA interference” important?

Ultimately, it answers the question: How can a good diet or a bad diet affect you and your body?

How can it affect your body? MiRNAs can affect your body in BIG WAYS.

These miRNAs can actually influence your genetic expression!

Yes. That’s right. These miRNA can influence your very own DNA expression.

Our diet is more than just nutrition and calories. The human diet is a language, a means for communication with our DNA.  Whether a diet is heavy in vegetables, fiber, and healthy fats, as in a Mediterranean diet, or is high in sugar and trans fats as in the typical Western American diet, each is a language communicating a message with our DNA to influence the very expression of our DNA.  If a mother’s hug can change our genetic expression, so can our diet.

Here are some examples. Plant miRNA from honeysuckle can inhibit the replication of influenza A.  Kind of important now that the US in the midst of a widespread influenza outbreak.  Plant miRNA 159 has been shown to target the TCF7 gene that inversely correlates to the incidence and progression of breast cancer, which means that it can decrease the growth of breast cancer.  After all, according to a recent analysis out of the journal Nature, cancer is primarily a disease of lifestyle.

MiRNA 159 sounds fancy, right? Are you curious where miRNA 159 comes from?

Take a guess…

You can find it at any grocery store.

It is a vegetable.

It is green.

It is of the cruciferous family.

It is…broccoli. Seriously. The miRNA 159 that targets the TCF7 comes from broccoli.  Broccoli appears to be a love language with our DNA.  Kind of gives a different perspective on what really is medicine?

Plant miRNAs in human blood from the diet has been proven in multiple studies. Using diet and nutrition to target human gene expression is not new. Generally, it is referred to as nutrigenomics, the communication of diet with your DNA.

How can a diet that is good or bad effect your body? Well, it depends on what you’re eating!  Don’t expect anything but junk from your DNA if you feed it junk.  But, feed your body a language of love through broccoli (well, green vegetables) and expect better genetic expression in return.

Whether you are eating well or eating poorly, your diet is certainly in communication with your DNA, and as you heard, it is possible to change the expression of your DNA by what you eat. To block breast cancer growth and progression or to inhibit influenza A, these were both combated by eating certain foods simply found in nature like broccoli or honeysuckle.  Food is medicine.  Food is prevention.  Food is the key to disease or wellness potential.

Considering your diet can change your DNA and gene expression, think twice about the power of food. Nutrigenomics may sound cutting edge, but you already know yourself how powerful food can be. In the end, you are what you eat. Consider it. It’s powerful. Who do you want to be and what do you want your DNA and your genetic expression to be.

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