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Diet Affects Gene Expression

Diet Affects Gene Expression

We all know that our eating habits impact our health.  From the proper functioning of internal organs to the appearance of our skin, in many ways, we truly are what we eat.  But a new study suggests that diet has an even deeper impact upon our bodies.

The Duke University study suggests that what we eat impacts the way our genes are expressed.  In the study, one group of rats was fed a nutritious diet while another was fed a diet lacking in folic acid.  The former group consistently maintained darker hair, while the hair of the latter became blondish in color.  What’s more, the offspring of the latter group and every subsequent generation had blondish hair, as well.

If we are anything like rats, then, what we eat may not only impact us – it may impact the health of our children and grandchildren. The study suggests that diet first impacts the way our genes are expressed in our own bodies.  So eating a poor diet may influence the genes responsible for determining the appearance of skin.  Someone whose diet lacks sufficient nutritional content, therefore, might have older looking skin.  When those genes are passed down, then, that person’s children may be more likely to have skin that ages prematurely, as well.

The study was intended primarily to illuminate ways in which dermatologists could help their patients improve the appearance of their skin.  But the implications of the study are much deeper.  While more research is certainly called for, these findings are not encouraging for a country plagued with obesity.

The typical American diet is much too high in refined carbohydrates, trans fat, saturated fat, and artificial ingredients.  This is the first generation of Americans predicted to die sooner than their parents.  The rate of obesity and diabetes among children continues to skyrocket.  There are a number of disturbing health trends in this country and, if what the Duke study suggests is correct, we might be struggling with these health epidemics for quite some time.

This is why it is so important for USDA and the FDA to be more responsible in deciding how to regulate the corporate food system.  By allowing the widespread consumption of produce sprayed with pesticides and meat and dairy products treated with antibiotics and hormones, we are likely doing damage to our genetic code and the genes of our children.  Not to mention the unknown health effects of genetically modified foods.

Furthermore, increased funding is necessary for organizations that provide low-cost nutrition education and work to redress the occurrence of food deserts.  Our eating habits have already had a significant, negative impact on the current generation of children.  It is imperative that we take action before we doom the next generation, as well.

 

Read more: Diabetes, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.

45 comments

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12:40PM PST on Jan 9, 2013

It makes sense of course, you are what you eat!

6:26AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

Thank you

9:48PM PST on Nov 4, 2012

Mari G. your writings suggest schizophrenia. I am not being judgemental, this is not in anger, only observational and familiar with the writings of someone else I know who is. The unconnected context of on going rambling is a dead giveaway. Please get a professional opinion.

7:17AM PDT on Oct 13, 2012

This article is very misleading.The author has taken some research on epigenetics and extrapolated what she wanted to.She has taken a complicated subject and over simplified it to meet her criteria.

1:02AM PDT on May 26, 2012

AMEN! An article written after my own heart . I studied genetics in college(alot) and completely, whole heartedly, agree with this assessment.

9:16PM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

interesting.

6:56PM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

Ofcourse it does!

2:44PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

This article misunderstands the science of epigenetics and misleads people on it's findings because it fails to explain it properly. If you don't understand the science of something, then do not write misleading articles about it.

2:27PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

makes sense, i remember learning in one class that if a woman goes through a period of famine her offspring will more likely hold on to calories/nurtrients which contributes to being over weight now. DNA is a complex yet beautifully elegent molecule, it's actually why i believe in high powers and creation (not monotheist based) because if us humans can create a camera that can take a clear, digial picture of the someone's car from space as well as many other amazing inventions why is it so far fetched that some supreme being(s), meaning greater than humans, created something like DNA? i might but wrong and there's nothing out there and the answers given when i pray and ask my Gods something might be my subconscience but you know what? when life shits on you and everyone turns their back on you having someone to talk to, whether real or imagine makes this life a lot less scary and lonely

1:55AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

We were protesting pink slime being fed to school children. Here's another win.
'Pink slime' furor crushes US beef processor
AFP via Yahoo! News - Apr 02 12:19pmPink Slime Beef
A leading US ground-beef processor, AFA Foods, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, blaming media coverage of one of its products dubbed "pink slime" by critics. AFA Foods said it was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection "given recent changes in the market for its ground beef products and the impact of media coverage related to Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT)." Based in King of ... Full Story »

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I only buy unsprayed grapes. An employee of a major grocery chain, working in the produce dept., to…

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