Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body


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A developing field called nutriepigenomics examines the connection between diet and chemical marks that can be attached to or removed from our DNA, thereby turning genes on or off. Many new studies suggest that certain foods or supplements may be able to adjust the expression of our genes, potentially influencing our health, for better or worse.

Interestingly, many health professionals are beginning to incorporate epigenetics into their practice with the goal of providing more targeted and individualized treatment plans for the future. By adjusting the lifestyle factors that we can control we have the potential to reduce disease risk and make a positive impact on our health.

So, what exactly is epigenetics and how can these marks or tags affect gene expression? Epigenetics is the study of heritable chemical marks on specific parts of DNA that adjust the expression of our genes without affecting the underlying genetic sequence — the string of A, C, T, G bases all of us are familiar with. Essentially, chemical marks attached to or removed from our DNA can influence our phenotype without ever altering our genotype.

Another popular epigenetic mechanism known as histone modification is when histone proteins and DNA, a complex known as chromatin , become condensed or relaxed as a result of added or removed chemical marks, such as methyl or acetyl groups, on histones.

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Why Good Nutrition is Important | Center for Science in the Public Interest

Typically, the more open and relaxed the chromatin structure, the more available it is for transcription and therefore, the greater the gene expression. Tighter chromatin restricts the expression of genes. When we eat, tiny molecules that are broken down from food including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins, are transported throughout the body to be used as energy or as building blocks. Of course, we know that consuming too much sugar or fat can lead to obesity and set us up for diseases like diabetes or heart disease, and epigenetics gives us some insight into a part of the underlying mechanisms related to diet, disease, and our health.

While epigenetics may be only one layer, it is a critical one.

The American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations

We may be able to manipulate the dietary bioactive compounds we consume in order to affect epigenetic alterations. More than 1 out of 3 U. By utilizing personalized services which are becoming increasingly popular, we may be able to better monitor our health and make the right choices to improve it. In aneurysm development, atherosclerosis may play a role and therefore eating Dr. Even in the early chapters it seems clear to me that the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of a plant-based diet.

Why is this information not more widely spread by physicians and other health professionals? Health professionals themselves are disinterested in eating this type of diet, and therefore they are unlikely to recommend it to their patients. The third impediment is the opposition to plant-based nutrition by certain segments of the food industry.

Think about how long it took to acknowledge that tobacco is a poison. We are about 20 years behind the tobacco study when it comes to food. Peppy: Several studies comparing vegan, vegetarian and Western diets have shown vegan diets result in the same lifespan as a Western diet. Vegetarian diets added seven additional years of life over the other two diets.

Why is this? Is there a deficiency created by eating vegan such as with vitamin B12? Most of those studies were designed as retrospective studies and may be biased because of other factors.


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As far as we know, vegans who take vitamin B12 supplement do not suffer of any nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, injections of vitamin B12 will be necessary. Are you saying not to do that? However, as shown by Dr.


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  4. Dean Ornish, patients with coronary artery disease who were randomized to the AHA diet did worse than those randomized to a low-fat, plant-based diet of Dr. Ornish or Dr. Peppy: Is there clinical evidence of any certain diet that reverses or stops carotid artery disease? Plant-based diets, such as those by Dr. Caldwell Esslestyn and Dr. Dean Ornish, which have been shown to reverse arteriosclerosis of the coronary arteries, would likely have similar affects on all other arteries in the body including the carotid arteries.

    Needless to say, besides an optimal lifestyle that includes physical activity, no smoking, and regular stress management practices in addition to diet, you need to follow the advice of your physician regarding medications. Jsweetie: Do you believe the anti- inflammatory diet as suggested by Dr. Andrew Weil is a beneficial diet? Therefore, lifestyle changes, such as dietary, stress management and physical activities, which are known to reduce inflammation, may be beneficial.

    There is a lot of debate about what is the most optimal anti-inflammatory diet. For example, does one need to eat omega 3 fats from fish or not, and so on. The current evidence points to the benefits of true plant-based diet without fish or dairy. Click for more information about anti-inflammatory diets. Whether this diet would be the most optimal for somebody with severe coronary artery disease remains unknown. In your opinion, is it compatible with someone with IBS?

    You mentioned a plant-based diet being beneficial. Hence, I would be eliminating sugar to start with. PENN: I have had two bariatric surgeries. I had another surgery by Dr. Philip Schauer at Cleveland Clinic in , but I did not lose weight. Are there special food plans for bariatric patients? Michael Roizen? That is true for physical activity, meditation and particularly food choices.

    The Benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet and The Consequences of Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices

    For example, a patient with a genetic predisposition for coronary artery disease can reduce his or her risk of heart attack to a level similar to a normal population of people just by eating large quantities of green leafy vegetables. In regards to patients with bariatric surgery, all principals of healthy lifestyles apply.

    As for the general population, you would benefit from eating a plant based-diet, and engage in regular physical activity and daily stress management practices.


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    I have tested negative to all food allergies, but I decided to go gluten free over two months ago, and now I want to eliminate sugar from my diet as well. I had my physical last week and was told I am vitamin D deficient and borderline diabetic. I am 44 years old, female, five-foot and five inches tall, and weigh about pounds. I am somewhat active, but not as active I would like to be.

    I have been reading that diet and your digestive tract contribute significantly to chronic diseases. What other resources and advice you can provide to ensure that I can maintain good health? Just make sure you take it with the largest meal of the day because this is a fat soluble vitamin, and it is poorly absorbed in the absence of fat. It is a good idea that you want to eliminate sugars, syrups and refined carbohydrates from your diet.

    Eat percent whole grain products, legumes and vegetables instead. Along with daily physical activity, this will help you control your blood sugar and reduce your risk of progression to type 2 diabetes. There are many options for percent whole grains that do not contain gluten. The health of your gut is important to your overall health because the bacteria that reside in your gut are highly metabolically active, surpassing the metabolic capacity of your liver.

    Our dietary choices determine which types of bacteria reside in our large intestine. So before throwing your hands up and saying, "What can I do? It's all up to my genes," read on.

    How to Live Long and Well

    Smoking is a familiar example of how our behaviors can affect our genes. We know smoking is linked to poor health outcomes. But how does this work molecularly-speaking? In this case, the carcinogens in cigarette smoke directly affect the molecules in our bodies, triggering the growth of cancer by mutating our anti-cancer genes so that they no longer function effectively.

    But what's found to be equally true is that the positive lifestyle choices we make -- most notably, eating right and exercising -- may have just as powerful an effect on our genetic makeup. Two recent studies illustrate this point.

    Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body
    Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body
    Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body
    Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body
    Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body

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