How does diet affect our epigenome?

By | August 12, 2020

how does diet affect our epigenome?

Transgenerational effects on metabolism and metabolic diseases have been known tin cans. It is in many consumer products, including water bottles and and studied before the advent of the field of epigenetics. Thank you for visiting nature. Cell Physiol. .

Author disclosures: S-W. Choi and S. Friso, no conflicts of interest. Nutrients can reverse or change epigenetic phenomena such as DNA methylation and histone modifications, thereby modifying the expression of critical genes associated with physiologic and pathologic processes, including embryonic development, aging, and carcinogenesis. It appears that nutrients and bioactive food components can influence epigenetic phenomena either by directly inhibiting enzymes that catalyze DNA methylation or histone modifications, or by altering the availability of substrates necessary for those enzymatic reactions. In this regard, nutritional epigenetics has been viewed as an attractive tool to prevent pediatric developmental diseases and cancer as well as to delay aging-associated processes. Although the possibility of developing a treatment or discovering preventative measures of these diseases is exciting, current knowledge in nutritional epigenetics is limited, and further studies are needed to expand the available resources and better understand the use of nutrients or bioactive food components for maintaining our health and preventing diseases through modifiable epigenetic mechanisms.

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Unlike behavior or stress, diet is one of the more easily studied, and therefore better understood, environmental factors in epigenetic change. The nutrients we extract from food enter metabolic pathways where they are manipulated, modified, and molded into molecules the body can use. One such pathway is responsible for making methyl groups – important epigenetic tags that silence genes. Familiar nutrients like folic acid, B vitamins, and SAM-e S-Adenosyl methionine, a popular over-the-counter supplement are key components of this methyl-making pathway. Diets high in these methyl-donating nutrients can rapidly alter gene expression, especially during early development when the epigenome is first being established. Take a detailed look at the nutrients that affect our epigenome and the foods they come from. Nutrients from our food are funneled into a biochemical pathway that extracts methyl groups and then attaches them to our DNA.

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