We often hear how important our genes are in determining our health.  However, there is new evidence that nutrition and environment are major factors in determining health status through the activation or expression of the genes.  The term, nutrigenomics, more specifically applies to the influence our food has on our health. Nutrigenomics is defined as the study of the relationship between nutrition, genetics and health.

There are approximately 30,000 genes in the human genome. Only 2,000 have an identified composition and function (or “mapped”). Most of these genes are controlled by master regulators that act as levers, turning the gene functionality on or off (expression). For example, these master regulators operate in one direction if a person is obese, and another direction if the person in optimal health. However, advances in nutrigenomics have shown that the master regulators are switched on or off by certain key nutrients called bioactives found in our foods. Three types of bioactives found in our foods include those rich in: fiber (beans, plant-based veggies), polyphenols (e.g., green tea, nuts) and omegas (fish oil, borage oil, salmon, hemp).  In other words, our nutrition helps determine which genes are expressed and which are not.

We all have genes that may or may not be expressed. How we eat, how active we are, and the type of environment we live in all play significant roles in the kind of health we will enjoy.