Better food means better gene health

Related tags Nutrition Folic acid

The food we eat can have a major effect on the health of our genes,
and healthy genes are vital when it comes to protecting our bodies
against disease. Scientists are now calling for more research into
the beneficial effects on genes of vitamins and minerals.

Healthy genes are important for protection against diseases such as cancer - and the foods we eat play an important role in gene health, claims the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

High rates of gene damage are emerging as significant risk factors for infertility, accelerated ageing and degenerative diseases such as cancer and Alzheimers disease, said CSIRO researcher Dr Michael Fenech speaking last week at CSIRO's Beyond the Human Genome Conference in Melbourne.

"Research in CSIRO​ and elsewhere has shown that we can reduce our levels of genetic damage by consuming optimum levels of vitamins and minerals such as folic acid and vitamin B12,"​ said Dr Fenech.

And it seems that the reverse may also be true.

"Studies have shown that gene damage through inappropriate diet may be as significant as genetic mutation brought about by toxic chemicals and radiation,"​ said Dr Fenech.

"Surprising as it may seem, large numbers of people in developed countries like Australia do not consume the amount of these essential nutrients necessary for healthy genes. Australia's current nutritional guidelines for the consumption of minerals and vitamins, known as 'recommended daily allowances', were designed for the prevention of diseases of deficiency.

"There is a difference between eating for essential daily sustenance and eating to get the optimum protection against diseases and CSIRO is investigating appropriate intakes of folic acid and vitamin B12."

Epidemiological evidence also suggests that the risk of breast cancer may be reduced by adequate folic acid intake.

"It is time for a concerted research effort to work out the levels of nutrients needed to promote healthy genes and protect against degenerative diseases,"​ added Dr Fenech.

Related topics Research

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