That first line from one of my favorite gangsta rap songs perfectly captures the spirit of today’s blog.
Nutrigenomics is a topic that sparked my interest almost two years ago when I began skeptically investigating a certain supplement and its claims. Eventually, it led me to such classic books as Deep Nutrition, The Primal Blueprint, Genetic Nutritioneering, and now Forever Young by Dr. Nicholas Perricone.
Nutrigenomics is exactly as it sounds. It is the combination of nutrition and genomics. In other words, it is the study of how nutrients and other substances influence the expression of our genes.
For some, genetics unfortunately hold us hostage. Many of us erroneously assume that our genes are all-powerful, leaving our health at the mercy of our genetic blueprints. For example, my father and his mother both died of pancreatic cancer. Two generations of such a ruthless disease should have me quaking in my Nikes.
But what should I do? Should I just count down the days, months, or years until I get the formal diagnosis?
I hit switches.
The switches I hit turn my good protective genes ON and my bad genes that cause cancer and other diseases OFF.
You can do it too! And we can all do it through the foods we eat and/or the supplements we take.
The public, media, and medical professionals always tend to lag about twenty years behind the scientific research. One thing that we haven’t quite caught on to is the fact that the benefits of foods go well beyond ORAC values, antioxidant profiles, and macronutrient ratios. Nutrients like catechins, polyphenols, and stilbenes actually affect gene expression.
Just as the “low-fat” labeling boom of the 1980s gave us a collective excuse to inhale the entire package of Snackwell’s cookies in just one sitting, industry vogue has recently turned to antioxidants to steer product sales.
Take a trip down the cereal aisle and you are sure to see unproven health claims unconscionably plastered alongside cartoon characters. Some read “25% MORE ANTIOXIDANTS!”. But let us not forget that an additional twenty-five percent of zero is still zero.
A nightly glass or two (maybe three) of red wine isn’t just a way to relax (or binge) anymore. It has become an act of health and preservation. Resveratrol, found in the skins of red grapes and thus red wines, has been shown to have powerful antioxidant/anti-inflammatory properties. Yet, so easily we forget about the free-radical producing pesticides in each non-organic glass. At the same time, we wonder why our blood sugars crash in the middle of the night waking us up. There has to be a better way.
And let’s not forget my own personal favorite, dark chocolate. Even I can’t resist the temptation to grab a bar on the way to the raw cheese aisle at Whole Foods. Why not? It’s got antioxidants! ☺
This is Part 3 of my series on aging and oxidative stress. If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, please check them out.
I’ve never been a fan of calorie restriction. Just the thought of it makes me ravenous and irritable. I like to eat! However according to science, my exuberance for forage comes with a hefty price.
Food is my best friend. Aging is my worst enemy. Research shows that we can’t have one without the other. Studies on various animals and fungi have consistently demonstrated the benefits of caloric restriction on the aging process. Thus the conundrum:
Feed my belly and shorten my life? Or live longer and just learn to deal with the hunger pangs? Hmm…
All food must be metabolized. It is the process of metabolism (the conversion of food to energy) that produces pro-aging molecules called free radicals. More food. More metabolism. More free radicals. More aging. Ugh!
As much as I’d like to meet my great-grandchildren, a 1200-calorie diet doesn’t sound so appealing. Sorry, kids.
In fact, I have the double whammy, a love for eating and intense exercise. Yes, exercise is good for us. However it also increases the metabolism, which generates more free radicals! It’s not fair.
This is Part 2 of my series on aging and oxidative stress. Please read my previous post, Oxygen is Killing Us.
I don’t want to get old. Really, I’m just not interested.
Yeah, you can lecture me on the wisdom we acquire as we age. I couldn’t agree more. I’m totally down with that. But that’s not what I’m talking about. The aging I’m referring to is the kind that shuffles down the street, drives 50 mph in the fast lane, and knows when a storm is coming by how his joints feel. Nope. You can count me out of that one.