Nutrition and Epigenetics – How Diet can change DNA

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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.


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.