Health & Nutrition   - Food For Your DNA 



Our health is influenced by what we eat, drink and other lifestyle choices that we make. The food that we eat have a profound influence on our health not just today, but even many years later in our lives. Early research in nutrition & health focused on determining the correct amount of a nutrient necessary in the diet to prevent the manifestation of a disease.
Today with the help of advanced technology we have the ability to not only see within the body, even within cells themselves. We are now able to follow how nutrients really function. More importantly, this new insight helps us to understand why having too little of these important dietary nutrients can lead to early aging, and disease.

What is DNA?
Cells are the fundamental units of life – from which all tissues and organs are made. Genes, found in each of the 70 trillion cells of the body, contain the basic biological instructions for everything from eye color to the risk of heart disease and other disorders. These instructions, encoded in the long strands of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) hold the key to everything that happens in our body. For example - They direct the heart cells to beat rhythmically and brain cells to store memories.

Of the many roles the cells play in our life everyday, two of the most important are-
• Keeping DNA safe from damage and
• Providing energy for everything we do.

But when genes and their DNA become damaged, the information becomes garbled. Cancer can be one of the consequences. Thus, genes are considered to be the stone of health and disease, the key to why we stay healthy or get sick.

Feeding Your DNA

Research has shown that a poor diet -- one low in antioxidants and other important phytonutrients -- and environmental exposure to toxins, like pesticides, cause DNA damage.
To support healthy cells and in turn the DNA; one needs an array of vitamins and minerals, as well as other dietary components. Thus providing all these nutrients to the cells is important and can be achieved by eating “Whole Foods” since they contain the fullest complement of these nutrients. Medical researchers unanimously agree that diets containing grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and fish, are Health-promoting foods.

The most comprehensive food sources providing host of nutrients is whole grains with the protective bran providing most of B complex vitamins and over 60% of the minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper and manganese, involved in energy production and keeping the level of offshoot free radicals at a minimum; whereas processed grain products, such as white bread and cereals made from refined grains, provide little protection from damage.

Fish Fats, one of the latest fads consist of the omega-3 fatty acids (also found in nuts), are needed for cell membranes to have the correct shape and ability to communicate.

Proteins provide for repair of DNA when it is damaged; and, together with fats, maintain the integrity of the cell membranes. Cells frequently use proteins as messenger molecules in their communications; therefore quality of protein; preferably animal proteins, or a combination of vegetarian and animal protein is important.

A high intake of antioxidants, like vitamin E found in the wheat germ, vitamin C found in citrus foods, and the Carotenoids from carrots protect the DNA against free radical damage. A range of other phytonutrients also acts as antioxidants; these include anthocyanins from fruits like grapes and strawberries, and catechins found in green tea and fruits like grapes.
Glutathione is another very important molecule that can destroy free radicals, and can be obtained directly from a variety of foods, such as broccoli, garlic and cauliflower. The mineral selenium serves to activate the formation of this important antioxidant found in mushrooms, shrimp, salmon, and nuts.

The other dietary components which support healthy cell functioning are Inositol and Choline. Inositol, which helps transport signals across the cell membrane, is found in wheat bran or brown rice, which also contains oryzanol and ferulic acid, known to be effective antioxidants compounds. Whereas choline is necessary to make the cell membranes, is present in high amounts in the yolk of eggs.
Nutritional support for healthy DNA also includes adequate dietary intake of folate and vitamin B12, since they are involved with DNA replication and repair. Folate is found in high levels in green vegetables, grains and eggs, and vitamin B12 can be obtained from eggs, dairy, meat and fish.

Eating organically grown and additive free food is another way to protect the DNA since by eating organic; you minimize degradation of DNA and as well as the exposure to pesticide residues in food, thus aids to sustain better health.

Therefore, choose a colorful palette of foods and whenever you can, reach for organic foods if possible. Moreover, incorporating these health-promoting foods into your diet delightfully easy and to help you save money, both immediately and in the long-term, by significantly reducing health care costs. There's a real chance of extending one’s life - by postponing the onset of diseases to which we are naturally susceptible.

Written By:

Ms Anju Bhambhani, Consultant Dietitian anj53@hotmail.com 

Registered Consulting Dietitian currently working with Global Catering & Hospitality Services, andheri. Past experience includes - worked as junior dietitian (2 yrs) for Jaslok Hhospital, Mumbai. She has been writing articles for Ontrack suburbs, a local newspaper supplement, andheri and for Novartis nutrition Newsletters.

Note: The views expressed in this article are strictly those of the writer and 123oye does not take any responsibility for them. Follow them at your own risk.


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