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Food for the genes - Study reveals link between nutrients and gene expression

Thursday, November 03, 2011 by: Michelle Bosmier
Tags: nutrients, gene expression, health news

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(NewsTarget) The influence diet has on human health has been an important subject of scientific focus during recent years. A study conducted by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NUST) comes to show that eating habits have a more significant impact on the human body, with immediate consequences at a genetic level.

The study conducted shows that there is a definite connection between diet and gene expression, which explains why certain types of foods are healthier while others have a more negative impact on our well being. Gene expression here refers to the process through which genetic data is transformed into substances like proteins that are used for the functions at cellular level.

The scientists have concluded that balance is the key to being healthy, both in the quantity and the quality of what we eat, and that an increased intake of carbohydrates will lead to heightened activity levels in genes, including in the ones responsible for the onset of lifestyle diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer`s or even certain types of cancer.

"A healthy diet shouldn`t be made up of more than one-third carbohydrates (up to 40 per cent of calories) in each meal, otherwise we stimulate our genes to initiate the activity that creates inflammation in the body" said biology professor Berit Johansen.

Throughout the research, subjects were required to undergo a special 6 diet regime (consisting of 65% calories taken from carbohydrates and the rest of the calories taken from protein and fats), then eat without any specific dietary restrictions for another week, followed by another 6 days of dieting (consisting of half the amount of carbohydrates and increased levels of fats and proteins). Blood tests were conducted at the end of each diet restricted period.

The results were able to highlight the relevance of regular, smaller meals throughout the day and the importance of balance in what we eat. The recommended quantities for each nutrient group should be 1/3 carbohydrates, 1/3 fats and 1/3 proteins.

Stress has also been found to be a contributing factor to how we assimilate fats. Saturated animal fats should be avoided entirely, researchers say, while monounsaturated vegetable fats and polyunsaturated marine fats should be the source of lipids in a balanced meal. Avocados, whole raw milk, cashews, nuts and sesame seeds should provide for a healthier alternative to meat fats.

Essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids should also be part of regular meals, and are to be found naturally in flax seeds, butternuts, hemp seeds, pecan nuts or black raspberries. When it comes to proteins, there is no lack of ready to eat wonders of nature, like nuts, Nori leaves, green vegetables or root tubers.

Another important aspect is finding the right balance in meal quantities, the same study asserts. Many of us tend to forget that greens also count as a source of carbohydrates or that a type of food rich in one of the three main components of a meal may also count towards the other two components, so finding the right mix has also to do with the distribution of ingredients in a dish. "Fruit is good, but you have to be careful not to eat large quantities of the high-glycemic fruits at one time," warns professor Johansen.

The impact of diets on gene expression has also proven to be very quick, allowing for noticeable modifications within only 6 days. "If you want to reduce your likelihood of lifestyle disease, this new diet will have to be a permanent change," said Johansen.

Sources for this article include:


About the author

Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. In 2010, Michelle created RawFoodHealthWatch.com, to share with people her approach to the raw food diet and detoxification.

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