Introduction to Nutrigenomics
A question often posed to me during lectures and public appearances is the following: “Dr. Perricone, isn’t it true that genetics play a huge role in my susceptibility to disease and signs of aging?”
Some people ask this question because they want to avoid taking responsibility for their health – assuming that, for good or ill, it is fixed in their genes like their height or their eye color.
As you will discover in this book, this is far from true. We have a great deal more control of our bodies than previously thought. There is an emerging field of study known as nutrigenomics. The word is a combination of nutrition and genomics. Together, they describe a field that focuses on the relationship between diet and gene expression. Nutrigenomic research investigates questions such as how food influences gene expression and how genes influence the way individuals absorb and metabolize different types of nutrients.
Using nutrigenomics, I will demonstrate how you can actually change the way genes are expressed and how that information is transmitted, simply by manipulating different aspects of your diet and lifestyle. For example, you know that by eating many of the foods included in my anti-inflammatory diet, you can:
1. Switch on protective genes
2. Switch off genes that may have a negative effect on our health
In this chapter we are going to introduce substances that turn off disease and age-accelerating transcription factors such as NF‑кB and AP‑1 and turn on the age- and disease-fighting transcription factor NRF2. This not inconsiderable feat is accomplished by a class of exotic-sounding substances known as Michael acceptor pharmacophores. This process is one of the most fascinating and exciting aspects of my research during the past decade. The remarkably protective properties of Michael acceptor pharmacophores are one of our finest strategies for staying Forever Young. In addition, I will introduce you to phytonutrients with other pharmacophores, which act as powerful anti-inflammatories through similar mechanisms.