The field of nutrigenomics is a subfield of epigenetics. These are big words but their concepts are relatively simple. Epigenetics is the study of the behavior of genetic material (RNA and DNA) through variations in the cellular environment. Epigenetics’ fundamental principle states that the cellular environment of the gene determines how the gene behaves, rather than the mere presence of the gene code itself. Therefore the health of the organism, as a whole, is directly affected by the expression of the gene, not just its presence. This is known as gene behavior1.
For example, just because you are born with the genetic predisposition to develop prostate cancer, does not mean that you will. Like a light switch, genes can be turned in one direction toward health and youth or “expressed” in the opposite direction towards illness and aging. What determines the expression of the genes, is the environment of the cell. The cellular environment is a combination of many factors, which include thoughts and emotions, detoxification and the nutrients present. This latter field of research is called nutrigenomics.
What is Nutrigenomics?
Nutrigenomics is the study of the relationship between nutrients and the genes2. It acknowledges that genetic expression of the cell, be it towards vitality or cancer, is in part determined by the presence of specific nutritional components surrounding the DNA and RNA. The degree of methylation, the ability of the cell to reject and detoxify old harmful material, antioxidant activity and the cell’s ability to replicate normally without mutation are all components of nutrigenomics, which is measured over generations of cell cycles. If you think this does not apply to you, think again! While medical research continues to advance, this area of research, called Nutrigenomic testing, is moving into the clinical and even the commercial realm. It is even possible for the average consumer to have their DNA sequenced for the low cost of $99!
Cells of the body are differentiated according to the organs and function. Prostate cells are specific in their own way. Some lifestyle factors have consistently shown to be negatively correlated with prostate cancer risk. Increasing age, smoking and low serum selenium levels are significantly associated with an increased risk for prostate disease at the epigenetic level3. Alcohol consumption increased the glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity, as well.
I decided to review some ongoing information and studies regarding specific nutrients and their protection of prostate cells according to nutrigenomic theories. This is what I have discovered –
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