17 Foods That Can Prevent Genetic Tendency for Disease

It was previously thought that whatever lifestyle choices we make during our lives will affect only our own personal health, and our longevity and have no effect on our future generations. 

We were sure that when we had offspring, their genetic slate would be wiped clean of all of our non-beneficial lifestyle choices, and that we have no responsibility towards the health of future generations through our own personal dietary and lifestyle choices. However, it is now known that this is not the case.

During my extensive research in the field of human health, I have found that proper nutrition is one of the five primary keys in acquiring and maintaining health, with the other keys being a positive mental attitude, physical activity, rest, and a healthy external environment. 

These five keys influence our health by directly affecting the environment surrounding our cells by allowing either a healthy environment for cells to thrive in or a destructive one, leading to disease and early death.

If we support a healthy, nourishing environment, our cells will thrive and flourish. On the other hand, if we support an unhealthy, adverse cellular environment, our cells will become diseased, and slowly die and this is reinforced through the science of epigenetics.

The term epigenetics was coined in 1942 by Conrad Waddington who fused the words “epi” (above) with “genetic” to describe events that could not be explained by then known genetic principles.

Later in the 1970s and 1980s, Robin Holliday’s work on cellular memory and the effects on gene expression on DNA prompted her to redefine epigenetics as the “the study of the changes in gene expression, which occur in organisms, and the inheritance of given patterns of gene expression.” [1]

Epigenetics states that the code of life is interactive. Your DNA is not your destiny.

Unlike our DNA sequence which is mostly stable within an individual, the epigenome can be dynamically altered by environmental conditions. The epigenome does not change the DNA, but it does decide how much and which genes are expressed in different cells of the body, and this has a significant effect on every aspect of our being. 

Gene expression is due to lifestyle! and gene expression responds to the environment of the cell.

People who make better dietary and lifestyle choices can activate health promoting genes and cause disease-promoting genes to become dormant. 

Cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes are diseases that are rooted in genetics. Much research is now focused on how our lifestyle choices could lead to epigenetic changes that may allow us to avoid conditions that we may have been genetically predisposed to. 

How what we eat, how we exercise, or even how we manage stress can promote health promoting epigenetic changes. 

Some epigenetic factors have been proven to be hereditary! This was proven in the year 2000 by a group of Swedish scientists, led by Dr. Lars Olov Bygren, a preventive-health specialist, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. 

The results of this study show that children who enjoyed excess food during certain periods in their childhood and went from healthy eating to gluttony produced offspring and grandchildren who lived much shorter lives. 

Simply put, the data suggested that a single season of overeating as a youngster could initiate a biological chain of events that would lead one’s grandchildren to die decades earlier than their peers! 

Once Bygren and his team added socioeconomic variations to their research results, the difference in longevity jumped to an astonishing thirty-two years decreased lifespan in offspring and the offsprings children.

Not only can we ruin our own health by our lifestyle choices, it’s becoming clear that those same bad choices can also predispose our children and our children’s children, even before conception, to disease and early death. [2, 3]

It is absolutely possible to change gene expression by changing your diet and making different lifestyle choices today.

If you choose to smoke heavily, make poor dietary choices or live a very sedentary lifestyle today, you will change epigenetic tags on your DNA that will not only affect you but also the generations after you. 

It is thought that autoimmune disorders previously unheard of, and the diabetes and obesity epidemics of today are due to epigenetic changes that come from our grandparents and perhaps even their previous ancestor’s lifestyle choices.

A subsequent study showed that the phytoestrogen genistein, found in fava beans, soybeans, chickens and other legumes, [4] modified the fetal epigenome, and protected obese mice’s offspring from obesity.

Another such group of nutrients includes the B vitamins that act as epigenetic methyl donors causing methyl groups to attach more frequently to specific genes thereby altering their expression, without changing the structure of DNA. In this manner, the methyl donors counteract detrimental effects induced by environmental toxins like Bisphenol A (BPA) by positively influencing the epigenome.[5, 6]

To ensure personal health and prevent disease promoting gene expression that may increase the tendency for obesity and diabetes through epigenetics, consume these 17 foods on a regular basis:

  1. Collard Greens
  2. Turnip Greens
  3. Broccoli
  4. Beets
  5. Swiss Chard
  6. Romaine Lettuce
  7. Bok Choy
  8. Cauliflower
  9. Asparagus
  10. 10. Quinoa
  11. 11. Spinach
  12. 12. Parsley
  13. 13. Lentils
  14. 14. Pinto Beans
  15. 15.Chickpeas
  16. 16. Black Beans
  17. 17. Navy Beans

We, as parents actually have a genetic responsibility toward our children. We must guard our genome through proper life-enhancing choices that we can pass onto our future generations.

Our choices today have massive implications. By changing your dietary and lifestyle choices, you are certainly not only creating a better life for you and your family, but also for the future of the human race and for the world at large.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you liked best about this article.

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References: 

[1] Genetics. 2015 Apr; 199(4): 887–896. Published online 2015. doi:  10.1534/genetics.114.173492

[2] Bygren LO, Edvinsson S, Broström G: Change in food availability during pregnancy: is it related to adult sudden death from cerebro- and cardiovascular disease in offspring. Am J Hum Biol; 2000; 12: 447–453.

[3] Bygren LO, Kaati G, Edvinsson S: Longevity determined by ancestors’ over-nutrition during their slow growth period. Acta Biotheoretica; 2001; 49: 53–59.

[4] Kaufman, Peter B.; Duke, James A.; Brielmann, Harry; Boik, John; Hoyt, James E. A Comparative Survey of Leguminous Plants as Sources of the Isoflavones, Genistein and Daidzein: Implications for Human Nutrition and Health. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; 1997; 3,1, 7–12. doi:10.1089/acm.1997.3.7. PMID 9395689.

[5] Dolinoy DC, Weidman JR, Waterland RA, Jirtle RL. “Maternal genistein alters coat color and protects Avy mouse offspring from obesity by modifying the fetal epigenome”, Environ Health Perspect; 2006;114: 567–572. PMID 16581547

[6] Dolinoy DC, Huang D, Jirtle RL. “Maternal nutrient supplementation counteracts bisphenol A-induced DNA hypomethylation in early development”, PNAS 104: 13056–13061. (2007) PMID 17670942

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