A great story referral from one of our readers:
from the Globe and Mail Canada
While genetics is the study of inherited genes, epigenetics looks at changes in the activity of genes. Epigenetics investigates how environmental agents – including the foods you eat – influence which genes are turned on or off.
The traditional view of cancer is that the disease is caused by damage to genes and DNA mutations.
But scientists are learning that other forces – diet, stresses, toxins – have the power to change gene activity in healthy, undamaged cells and ultimately alter cancer risk.
Turns out your diet has the potential to reverse negative changes to gene expression, changes that could, over time, lead to cancer as well as other diseases.
The review by scientists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham outlines how specific components in foods can activate genes that suppress tumour growth and silence genes that promote cancer development.
The epigenetics diet, a term coined after the report’s publication in March, is a daily diet that includes food components that turn on or off a gene’s natural defences against cancer. And it’s easy to adopt since the amounts of active ingredients in foods needed for cancer prevention are very achievable.
The following foods have a well studied amount of benefits:
This green vegetable is an excellent source of potent anti-cancer phytochemicals called isothiocyanates, the most famous being sulforaphane which is plentiful in broccoli and broccoli sprouts.
Sulforaphane helps remove carcinogens from the body by activating certain genes that speed up the liver’s production of detoxification enzymes.
Green tea owes its cancer-fighting properties to a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been shown to turn on cancer suppressor genes and shut off genes that promote tumour growth.
For more antioxidants, drink green tea brewed from loose tea leaves rather than tea bags. (Whole tea leaves have more surface area for hot water to extract the antioxidants than tea bags.)
Tofu, soy beverages, soybeans, soy flour and soy nuts contain genistein, a phytochemical that blocks the reproduction of cancer cells and slows the growth of several types of tumours.
Resveratrol, an antioxidant in red grapes, has strong anti-cancer properties. It’s been shown to influence genes involved in the growth of many types of precancerous lesions and tumour cells.
This spice owes its cancer-fighting activity – and bright yellow colour – to a pigment called curcumin. Turmeric’s active ingredient is thought to protect against cancer by inhibiting the synthesis of a protein instrumental in tumour formation and preventing the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth.
Rich in a phytochemical called rosmarinic acid, research shows that rosemary is a powerful antioxidant agent, prevents carcinogens from binding to DNA, and stimulates liver detoxification of carcinogens.
This herb’s anti-cancer potential is attributed to its sulphur compounds, phytochemicals also responsible for garlic’s smell. Many studies have revealed garlic’s anti-cancer effects, most notably for digestive tract cancers.