Bio & Life Sciences

Could Genomics Inform Your Diet?

Dean Ornish’s column, Eating for Health, Not Weight, in yesterday’s New York Times explained the scientific arguments for how a plant-based diet is better than a low carb Atkins-type diet for improving health and reducing disease. And he points to proof in the genome.

Ornish writes that studies at his Preventive Medicine Research Institute have shown that a diet low in unhealthful carbs, fat, red meat, and processed foods and high in healthful carbs, combined with exercise and stress-management, can reduce inflammation, improve bloodflow, and reverse severe coronary artery disease as well as the progression of early stage prostate cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

Remarkable from a genomic perspective are the institute’s findings that such a regimen:

changed gene expression in over 500 genes in just three months, “turning on” genes that protect against disease and “turning off” genes that promote breast cancer, prostate cancer, inflammation and oxidative stress.

The program, too, has been associated with increased telomerase, which increases telomere length, the ends of our chromosomes that are thought to control how long we live …”

Those results don’t just point to the use of food and nutrition as disease therapy, but to the potential use for gene expression analysis technologies for preventive care in your family doctor’s office.


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