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Talking to patients about nutrigenomics

Watch Melissa talk to her patient about how gene function can be affected by nutrition and the wide range of things that can be done for our health.
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ABBIE: So I’ve been doing some reading on the internet, and I’ve learned that foods can change the way your genes work. Is there foods that I should or shouldn’t be eating to do that? I just want to be healthier.
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MELISSA ADAMSKI: Yeah. So we’re learning a lot more about how the foods that we eat or the nutrients we take in actually affect how our genes work. The genes we were born with come from Mum and Dad, and we do contain an entire copy of our DNA in each cell in our body. Now, the way that DNA works or is expressed in each cell is differently depending on where that cell is in the body.
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So while the nutrients we take in or the foods that we eat can change the way our genes express themselves or put out the instructions that are required for that cell in the body, we don’t know a lot about how the foods that we take in will affect all of those cells. Just saying a specific diet or a specific food that we eat or don’t eat can change the way our genes work is a little bit simplistic because we can’t actually target specific genes in specific cells at specific times with our foods just yet. So for example, if you were to take in vitamin C from an orange, do we want to all of those cells to be affected?
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Or do we only want a couple of those cells in the body to be affected? So while there’s a lot of promise with this space around how foods can change our genes or turn them on and off, we don’t know a lot about using that in practise because it’s such a complex process. We can’t actually say for certain at the moment which foods are best for you to eat to change the way that our genes work. What’s best for you, and what we can do, though, is make sure that we’re eating a range of whole foods that are rich in nutrients to really help optimise the health of our DNA to make it as healthy as possible.
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So this is the important take-home message– that while our genes cannot technically change themselves, we can affect the way that they work through our nutrition.
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ABBIE: Yeah.
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MELISSA ADAMSKI: So as you can see, while this area is very complex, there’s still a wide range of things you can do for good health, and especially good health of our DNA, and that could include eating foods that are rich in a number of key nutrients, such as folate, B-12, zinc, and a range of antioxidants.
Watch Melissa talk to her patient about how gene function can be affected by nutrition and the wide range of things that can be done for our health.

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Food as Medicine: Food and our Genome

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