Food and Your DNA
© Cheryl Deroin, NMD
How we eat today affects how we feel in the future. Diet is one way we can have a profound personal effect on our health. Food as it is presented to us today is the result of thousands of years of foraging, cultivation, transport of seeds and experimentation.
The DNA of a plant primarily determines how the plant will grow and the amount of nutrition it will provide. The DNA of the seed of the plant is affected by its mother DNA and environmental factors, such as pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer and genetic mutations. The history of a plant is written in its DNA.
As humans we are multifaceted with a combination of DNA from our parents who may be from different nationalities or cultures, and who also have a combination of DNA from their parents. The biochemistry of each human is unique. Food can be a medicine, or food can be a poison, depending on the history of our genetic makeup and how we embrace food in our lifestyle. Is it a “grab and go” to satiate hunger or is there intentional shopping, preparing and eating of food that is easily digested and gives energy to the body?
Good nutrition also involves the absorption and metabolism of foods to allow for growth, energy and development. Most foods must be broken down into smaller molecules before they can absorbed into the body fluids. The immune system of the digestive tract is constantly reactive to the molecules of food or antigens that are ingested. It responds to food in a positive way (increasing immunity) or a negative manner (active down-regulation and intolerance).
If the food we eat has a negative effect on our digestive system the immune lymph tissue responds, creating an inflammatory response. Inflammation means the mucosal tissue that protects the digestive tract wall is broken down, and macromolecules from food will not only irritate the intestinal wall but also the intestinal wall will become more permeable and larger molecules will move through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. When we eat food that is non-compatible with our biochemistry on a daily basis the gut permeability will continue to grow leading to excessive mucous, congestion and fatigue. Intestinal permeability can cause allergies, digestive issues and eventually more serious diseases.
If our DNA holds a genetic predisposition to arthritis, an autoimmune disease, or something as serious as cancer the constant intake of an indigestible, inflammatory food may activate the expression of a gene thus potentiating the manifestation of a disease.
Naturopathic physicians work with individuals to recognize what foods are beneficial for a patient and what foods can be inflammatory and depress their immune systems. There are numerous ways to help a person create an optimal individualized nutrition plan. Besides conventional testing, there is allergy testing, DNA testing, and basic food elimination. The training of a naturopathic physician involves listening to the patient and their symptoms and evaluating current diet and digestive concerns. We can evaluate intestinal permeability, low hydrochloric acid in the stomach, pancreatic insufficiency and liver function and detoxification pathways.
How we eat today affects how we feel in the future. Diet is one way we can have a personal effect on our health.