x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

We are what we eat

The study found that those on the Mediterranean diet, which consisted of olive oil, fish, complex carbohydrates and nuts, compensated for the negative genetic influence. As one of the researchers described it, the diet put them “on an even playing field with everyone else”.

A Mediterranean diet compensates for negative genetic influence. iStockphoto
A Mediterranean diet compensates for negative genetic influence. iStockphoto

Some people neglect their own nutrition, believing that their health in later years is already decided regardless of what they eat or how active they are.

However, new evidence suggests the determining force of our genetics is not absolute.

A study conducted at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and the CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición in Spain has yielded what looks to be a significant leap forward for nutrigenomics, or the study of how nutrition and gene function affect our health and risk of getting chronic and degenerative diseases.

The study followed 7,000 men and women over five years as they were given either a Mediterranean diet or a low-fat control diet and then monitored for cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack. Within the sample about 900 individuals had genetic variations that typically put them in a higher risk category for heart disease, which is usually preceded by type two diabetes.

The study found that those on the Mediterranean diet, which consisted of olive oil, fish, complex carbohydrates and nuts, compensated for the negative genetic influence. As one of the researchers described it, the diet put them “on an even playing field with everyone else”.

The senior author of the study José M Ordovás, the director of the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA at Tufts University, said the study was the first of its kind, particularly in identifying “gene-diet interaction” over several years in so many subjects.

This study further highlights the importance of nutrition and the power of a healthy diet. Food has an impact on our body at all levels: we are quite literally what we eat and if we choose wisely, we can even positively affect our genes.

artslife@thenational.ae

Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, go to www.BeUtifulYou.Com