A diet of the proper foods affects the ability of the epigenome to control gene expression in the genome. Such expression (genes are either silent – turned off, or expressed – turned on) affects the health of the body. To achieve good health, detrimental genes are turned off and beneficial genes are turned on in specific sequences. The expression of beneficial genes is healthy for the body. The expression of detrimental genes results in diseases and other unhealthy conditions of the body.
DNA Methylation is one type of biochemical epigenetic function that affects cell function by altering gene expression. This is done by adding a methyl group (CH3) to the 5-carbon of cytosine in a CpG dinucleotide. There are several other similar types of modification: Phosphorylation (the adding of a phosphorous radical), Acetylation (the adding of an acetyl radical), Ubiquitination, and ADP ribosylation. These modification methods perform a function that either silences or allows expression of genes in the genome.
What is Methylation and Why is it Important?
There are several kinds of methylation: DNA methylation, histone methylation, and chromatin (CpG) methylation. DNA methylation, which is directed to occur at sites where a cytosine is followed by a guanidine (CpG sites) is used exclusively for silencing of nearby genes. Histones are the proteinaceous spindles in the nucleus around which DNA is wrapped. Depending on which amino acid is being methylated, histone methylation can cause both activation and/or repression of transcription, for nearby genes.
When an undifferentiated cell becomes committed to a particular cell type, methylation is used to silence the genes that are not needed, by using both DNA methylation and histone methylation processes. Methylation ensures that a cell is almost always uniquely defined. Methylation causes the expression of the genes needed through both histone methylation and acetylation. This is why methylation is important to cell differentiation. ( answers.yahoo.com "What is Methylation" accessed 15 May 2010).
Foods That Support Healthy Epigenome DNA Methylation
Eating a diet rich in foods from the following list aids the proper functioning of DNA Methylation of the genes in the genome. The control of gene expression (on or off) is accomplished by the epigenome. The DNA is not actually altered.
Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy. Foods rich in folic acid: (meat) liver, chicken giblets, kidney, egg yolk; (legumes) dried beans, lentils, split peas, soya products, almonds, nuts; (startches) wholegrain breads, wheat flour, potato, sweet potato; (fruits and vegetables) spinach, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, bananas, oranges, peaches. Foods rich in antioxidants: small dried red beans, wild blueberries, dried red kidney beans, pinto beans, cultivated blueberries, cranberries, cooked artichoke hearts, black berries, dried prunes, raspberries, strawberries, red delicious apple, granny smith apple, pecans, sweat cherries, black plum, cooked russet potatoes, black beans, plum, and gala apple. (in order of decreasing antioxidant content). Foods rich in vitamin B12: (meat) liver, beef top sirloin, mutton, chicken, pork, ham, fish, whole egg, cheeseburger, cured roasted ham, roasted chicken; (dairy) milk, cheese, yogurt; (seafood) cooked clams, wild or farmed cooked rainbow trout, cooked sockeye salmon, cooked haddock, white tuna; (cereal grains) fortified breakfast cereal. Foods rich in amino acids, B complex vitamins: ( methionine, an amino acid) spinach, garlic, brazil nuts, kidney beans, tofu, chicken, beef, fish; (choline a B complex vitamin) liver, eggs, lettuce, peanuts; (metals) zinc; (resveratrol red grape antioxidant) red wine, betaine. Betaine is a sweet crystalline quaternary ammonium salt that was first isolated in beet juice and is used to treat homocysteinuria and is also used in its hydrochloride form to treat hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid).
A Proper Diet Will Affect One's Children and Grandchildren and Their Descendants
It is possible to affect one's own epigenome and to make changes that are permanent or will last for the rest of one's life. Eating a proper diet that is oriented to aiding the methylation processes that exist in the epigenome will result in better health. And do not forget, that these changes to the epigenome that are brought about by a proper diet, will affect one's descendents for many generations to come.
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