Nutrition and Epigenetics - How Diet can change DNA
Nutrients as well as several bioactive ingredients found in many foods we eat every day, can change the epigenetics functions of our DNA. Modern research highlighted how nutrition and diet can alter many functions related with genetic expression such as histone modifications or DNA methylation, thus influencing, altering or reverting many diseases and condition associated with epigenetic mutations.
Adequate genetic expression can be altered through our life, as several processes such as DNA sequencing and methylation, chromatin remodeling and histone modifications could be modified by many factors such as aging, cancer, environmental factors and embryonic development. Epigenetic mutations have been associated with many conditions including diabetes, chronic inflammation, cancer, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. Nutrition and bioactive foods may influence these genetic changes, opening a new interesting frontier in the treatment of these conditions, as showed by a new epigenetic study performed at the Tufts University of Boston1.
Nutrients such as, vitamin B-12, folates, choline, betaine and methionine can alter the methylation of histones and DNA itself by acting on the methyl donors S-adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) and S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet)2. Other bioactive food ingredients such as biotin, niacine and pantothenic acid may act through a direct inhibition of the enzymes involved in DNA modifications, or may change the way these enzymes react with their substrates. Altered genetic expression may, in turn, affect several diseases that are caused by epigenetic modifications. Some of the food items rich in folates include beef liver, spinach, black eyed peas and choline is found in eggs, liver and peanuts. According to research studies published, diet and nutrition rich in some of the food items mentioned can potentially alter your DNA.
1. Sang-Woon Choi, Simonetta Friso. “Epigenetics: A New Bridge between Nutrition and Health.” Adv Nutr November 2010 Adv Nutr vol. 1: 8-16, 2010. doi: 10.3945/an.110.1004
2. Jin SG, Kadam S, Pfeifer GP. “Examination of the specificity of DNA methylation profiling techniques towards 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine.” Nucleic Acids Res
Dr. Claudio Butticè, PharmD.