We are going into Epigentics and how it is applied to food. Our topic is called Nutrigenomics. Be sure to read clinical notes. But before that:
I have some food for thought for you (pardon the pun). Are you ready? Here it is … this is your Zen Koan,
What makes food therapeutic?
It’s kind of a profound question, don’t you think? If you think about it for just a few minutes, food is important for our sustenance but it is much more: What is food? What is life? What is health? What is therapeutic? What part does food play as therapy in our practice of medicine? What does our culture think about food? How do other cultures around the world think of food? Lets explore.
Over the rest of this month I will focus our Forward Thinking newsletters on answering this question—What Makes Food Therapeutic. And, I would love to share your reflections as well. After all, you are the medical health professionals and practitioners. So call or write to me!! Your voice is important.
I’m a baby boomer, that puts me somewhat over the age of 60, and there are a lot of us in this catagory. We are facing the so called “diseases of aging”—heart disease, diabetes, cancer, cognitive dysfunction, arthritis, osteoporosis, excess weight gain, metabolic syndrome, reduced muscle tone, fatique, lack of libido, and the list goes on. The eternal question is do we have to die with one of these lingering, chronic disease conditions? And, the answer is, we don’t. One of the keys is to bring, on a regular basis, powerful health building foods into our diet.
The science of nutrition as defined by the American Medical Association is the science of food; the nutrients and the substances therein; their action, interaction, and balance in relation to health and disease; and the process by which the organism (e.g., human body) ingests, digests, absorbs, transports, utilizers, and excretes food substances.
Sounds pretty good, but the problem is most mainstream medical practitioners never had to take a course in clinical nutrition during their medical school training, and even if they did, the focus would primarily have been on the six classes of nutrients in food—carbohydrates, lipids (fats and oils), proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.
These essential nutrients are assigned three functional categories: (1) those that primarily provide energy; (2) those that are important for growth and development (and later maintenance); and (3) those that keep body functions running smoothly. (Perspectives in Nutrition, Eighth Edition 2009).
The frustration of the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, cognitive dysfunction, the unrelenting blight of heart disease and cancer—the rise in the catagory of chronic illness across all age groups (not just the aging!) has driven the medical profession to look deeper into the issue of food as medicine. And, with the typing of the human genome and the realization that genes are turned on and off by factors outside of the DNA itself, we have developed a whole new field of study called Epigenetics. Epigentics applied to food is called Nutrigenomics.
Nutrigenomics is the study of how food affects gene expression. The University of California at Davis has created a department of medicine that focuses on nutritional genomics—the Center of Excellence for Nutritioal Genomics.
Over the rest of this month we will focus on Nutrigenomics and how it adds exciting new possibilities for the elimination of these chronic diseases and exciting new applications in the use of food as medicine—helping us to understand more fully what makes food therapeutic.
From an nutrigenomic vantage point the Therapeutic Foods really stand out, and we will get into this more fully in the weeks to come. But just to wet you appetites, I offer a couple of our Therpeutic Foods for thought—the Wild Blueberry and the Cruciferous Sprouts.
The Wild Blueberry, besides being a powerful antioxidant that can douse free radicals even and especially in the brain, also turn down gene transcription for proinflammatory cytokines and chemocines. It does this by inhibiting the expression of NF kappa B in the cytoplasm of all cells. NF kappa B is what is called a transcription molecule that initiates the inflammatory cytokines production. Chronic inflammation, as we know, is causative in all of the major chronic diseases.
The Cruciferous Sprouts activate the transcription factor NRF2 which results in the induction of many cytoprotective proteins such as glutathione s transferase (catalyzes the conjugation of GSH with endogenous and xenobiotic free radicals), heme oxygenase (protects against sepsis, hypertension, athlerosclerosis, acute lung injury, kidney injury and pain), quinone reductase (catalyzes the reduction and detoxification of highly reactive quinones) and many other what are called phase 2 enzymes that are used by the liver cells for phase 2 liver detox.
Take one a day of the Wild Blueberry Daily or the Wild Blueberry Extract and take one teaspoon or four capsules a day of the Cruciferous Sprout Complex.
The starfish is not really a fish at all, but is an echino-derm, closely related to sea urhins and sand dollars. Their new common name is sand star.
There are 2,000 species of sea stars. The five armed variety we see here is the most common. But, there are species with 10, 20 and even 40 arms.
They house most of their vital organs in their arms, and a few species can grow an entirely new sea star just from a portion of a severed limb.
Most have the ability to consume prey outside their bodies. Using tiny, suction-cupped feet, they pry open clams, and their sack-like cardiac stomach, emerges from their mouth and oozes inside the shell enveloping the clam’s soft body, digesting it, and finally withdrawing back into its own body. (from National Geographic.com)