Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison found that the mice fed a Western type diet (low in fiber and carbohydrates, high in simple sugar and fat) showed that certain genes were being expressed while others were not. In other words, the diet of the mice was dictating whether some genes are expressed while some are not through the bugs in their gut.
This shows the impact of what we eat can actually determine what genes are expressed in our in the part of our DNA known as the phenotype. This has bought about the study of how our environment, lifestyle and diet can change gene expression of the phenotype or is known as epigenetics. Epigenetics is the potentially heritable change in gene expression – some of those epigenes can stay inactive our whole life while others become active due to poor diet, stress, chemical exposure and now we know, a poor microbiota.
So those healthy fruits, vegetables and high fiber foods like beets not just provide us nutrients, but our bugs the healthy nutrients that they need. They in turn help us to stay healthy and in this study, it was found to potentially reduce IBD and inflammation in the intestine by promoting healthy gene expression! And, this study is one more piece of the puzzle about what role does the gut microbiota play in diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
This has bought about the study known as genomics – the study of the whole genome not just the genotype that you inherited from your parents. This has been branched out nutrigenomics and now, pharmacogenomics. Nutrigenomics looks at how food and lifestyle affects your genes or how your genetics might affect your ability to absorb nutrients. Or, why how certain foods like broccoli for some of us with the epigenes for breast can actually reduce your risk for breast cancer.
This exciting field of nutrigenomics has so much potential and changing everyday – sign up for my newsletter or like me on Facebook to learn more.
Source: Krautkramer, et al. (2016). “Diet-microbiota interactions mediate global epigenetic programming in multiple host tissues.” Molecular Cell, 64(5):982-992.
Reference: Cell Press. Changes in the diet affect epigenetics via the microbiota. EurekAlert. 23 Nov 2016. Web.