The July issue of Agricultural Research contained reported findings from current studies linking nutrition with chronic disease, including in the areas of diet, genomics, heart disease, diabetes, and immunology. This 24 page summary from the Agricultural Research Department of the USDA reported scientific documentation of isolated active constituents from foods and phytonutrients and how they positively effect on health. Exciting!
Here’s an expert from the magazine describing the link between cancer prevention, nutrigenomics, and epigenetics (how diet and external factors effect how how genes express themselves)!:
Scientists do not know exactly why one person develops cancer and another does not. But Agricultural Research Service chemist Thomas Wang, who specializes in cancer prevention research, says that there are “layers” of factors involved in the development of the disease. Wang works at the ARS Diet, Genomics, and Immunology Laboratory, which is part of the Beltsville (Maryland) Human Nutrition Research Center.
Research shows that certain external risk factors increase the chance that a person will develop cancer. These include the molecules that are introduced into the human body by way of ingestion. “This layer involves peoples’ diet complexity,” says Wang. “Diet is a complex mixture of bioactive compounds that trigger huge amounts of biological activity.”
Another major layer is genetics. “People have their own individual genotypes that are dictated by their ethnicity, gender, and inherited traits,” says Wang. Some of those traits involve susceptibilities to cancer. While individual nutrients are sometimes touted in the media as being able to reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, in fact, such findings can only be confirmed through large clinical trials.
Still, evidence from cell culture, animal models, and population studies suggests that interactions among combinations of certain plant chemicals are involved in slowing or possibly lowering the risk of cancer development.
“Gauging the benefits of consuming these dietary compounds involves careful tracking of concentration, timing, and interactions with other compounds,” says Wang.
While research suggests that diet can have a protective effect against some chronic diseases, other research is being conducted to learn what dietary components are linked to causing chronic diseases.
Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds contain thousands of bioactive phytochemicals. Other compounds are found in some meats, poultry, and fish. Some of these compounds turn on genes that are protective against cancer and turn off other genes linked to cancer promotion.
Among other nutrients, luteolin, quercetin, chrysin, eriodicytol, hesperetin, and naringenin from various fruits and vegetables are being studied to find their mechanism on cancer prevention and blocking inflammation. Other anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, spices, mushrooms, and supplements such as fish oil, are also highlighted in regards to their role in eye health, heart health, diabetes, bone health and much more. I encourage you to skim the link!
A last point to remember, which was pointed out in the magazine, something that is beneficial for one, can be harmful for another. That is why it is important to know your body and what the causative factors for a specific condition are before taking any kind of supplement. “Tis the dose that is the poision”. Natural does not mean safe, especially when dealing with potentially tainted and high therapeutic doses. Still, the risk of side effects from natural supplements is so minimal compared to drug reactions, it’s quite encouraging research.