Food has tantalizing effect in human history as in the start of the human evolution. Each individual has gene variation in which the protein sequences are affected and most likely, the nutrient requirements, the likeliness of disease are varied to the appropriateness of the genetic makeup in oneself. Nutrigenomics is the term used for the study of genes and nutritional requirements. It has been found that food can interact with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNIPs) in our DNA and activate certain genes.
For example, eating shrimp can cause skin allergy while assuming broccoli that is rich in anti cancer properties can activate detoxification.
Grapefruit has naringenin, a flavonoid rich in anti-cancer properties and induce DNA repair on affected cancer cells. The activation of naringenin will stimulate the Base Excision Repair (BER) cellular mechanism in DNA replication stage. The cancer preventive agent also rich in anti oxidant properties and could lower down cholesterol level in blood by 15%.
Sodium benzoate is a common preservative that is found in processed soft drinks to add flavoring. When tested on DNA of yeast, it could inactivate the DNA in mitochondria completely and later the cell malfunctions completely. Another study tied the preservative to neuro-degenerative diseases like Parkinson's and also the aging process.
Tocotrienols, the less studied of Vitamin E, may reduce DNA damage in cancer development by 50 percent. This important finding is related to oxidative stress and quenching of oxygen species by Vitamin E.
Eating kiwifruit can be a preventive measure against cancer as it can improve the DNA repair after peroxide is induced for cell damage. In one sense, the concept of nutrigenomics is already applied in modern medicine. Consider phenylketonuria, for example.
Infants with mutations in the PAH gene, which leads to impaired metabolism of phenylalanine, are fed a low- or no-phenylalanine diet for much of their childhood and usually into their adult life. Many other genes for simple metabolic disorders are tested in standard newborn screening assessments.
Most diseases, however, are much more complex. Advancing nutrigenomics for these diseases, and for overall health, will require dedicated, focused studies in genetics and epigenetics, as well as increased understanding of how genes, proteins, and epigenetic changes interact within networks and pathways.