Food Changes Your Genes

by Steven Carney on October 1, 2012

There are 3 studies that add to existing information about the effects of food and nutrition on genes. One is about soda, sugar and how they affect genes and weight. The others are about how good nutrition can affect health, genes and prevention, including choline and veggies in the diet (choline is related to B vitamins).

1. Soda and sugar study

The first study verifies previous research that drinking soda and beverages sweetened with sugar or HFCS add to weight gain (including health problems like diabetes and heart disease).

The study involved 3 large groups of subjects totaling almost 200,000 people, using food questionnaires. Subjects consuming 1 soda a day were significantly more likely to be obese compared to those drinking only 1 soda per month.

Sugary beverages appear to activate genes for weight gain, encouraging more obesity. I’ve written about these issues before, in terms of how diet and lifestyle affect genes, turning on health or disease genes depending on how you live. I include the negative affects of soda and sugar consumption in many posts as it’s such a universal health problem! See first links below for study details.

2. Women and choline study

The second study looked at the effects of choline, a vitamin-like nutrient found in eggs, meat, fish and some veggies that can affect the mother’s health and the health of her children throughout life. Choline is a nutrient I included in my recent egg post, ‘Are Eggs Healthy or Not?” because it’s critical for the development and function of the brain and nervous system. As I mentioned previously, choline is related to B vitamins, and it helps the brain, nerves and hormones to function normally.

The study looked at choline levels during pregnancy and how higher choline influenced stress-related responses later in life, including blood pressure and emotional health. They found that higher levels of choline during pregnancy changed genetic markers and their influence on hormonal systems, especially those related to stress response! Higher levels lead to calmer, less stressed children, even adults.

Although the study was small, with 26 pregnant female subjects, epigenetics is already known to be influenced by nutrition and activity. Healthy nutrition and good activity will activate more health genes, whereas a poor diet (processed foods/junk foods/fast foods, soda and sugars) will activate disease genes like those shown in the first study above. The bottom line for the choline study is that higher levels of choline in the mother’s diet helped to calm stress responses for her children. See third link below for study details.

3. Veggies and heart disease study

The third study is related to heart disease and how veggies, fruits and berries can alter your genetics and fight heart disease. They studied thousands of human participants and their eating habits. The results showed that people who ate a healthy diet that included lots of veggies, fruits and berries cut their risk of heart disease (and heart attack) to a normal level even when they had a gene that significantly raised their risk for heart disease!

This is an important study because it reinforces why nutrition is so important! It verifies the effects that healthy nutrition can, not only help with prevention, but it can also help to negate a genetic influence for an often deadly disease!

All of these studies demonstrate the workings of epigenetics, an area of medical research that looks at the interaction between the environment and genes, including your lifestyle. I’ve written an article on those same issues before (see link below), and I hope more research will continue to add to this important knowledge.

Epigenetics is validating the common-sense understanding we have about why a healthy diet and activity helps people to live longer, healthier lives. And the approach of using nutrition and exercise to improve health is a safe, non-drug approach to avoiding or treating chronic health problems and disease! As a health coach, I can help you make these same kinds of healthy changes, ones that are not hard but bring big rewards in energy and health!

If you have any questions or comments, drop me a line! You can comment after post or use the social icons in right sidebar. One has an e-mail link!

Helpful links:

Notice how the Beverage Association tries to blame other causes in this link: 

A new human study showing how the Mediterranean diet can help turn off some stroke genes:

An article by Dr. Rowen about epigenetics and lifestyle, including how stress and attitude affect your genes:

© 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now


eugene March 13, 2013 at 5:27 PM

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Steven Carney May 16, 2013 at 7:54 AM


I also wrote an article that deals more with epigenetics. See the Links/Articles tab for more info in genes and lifestyle!

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