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7 Ways To Make Your Meal Optimize Gene Behaviour

The other day I was writing an article for a newspaper on how to make a family meal ‘nutrigenomically active’.

In previous blogs I discuss what the fuss about DNA diets is all about, nutrigenomics, bioactive ingredients and the affect it has on our health.

Don’t panic if you have no clue what I’m talking about. I’m going to do a quick recap.

Today, trending topics include DNA testing and the interconnected role food and genes play on our health and longevity. Each of us has a unique physiology and chemistry which is determined by our genes. Even though 99.9% of our DNA sequences are identical in all of us, it is the 0.1% of DNA variations that are responsible for our differences.

While there are many factors that can influence how our genes behave, food is one of the most influential of them all.

Today there is clear shift in focus towards more personalised and preventative nutrition. Your genes uniquely impact your digestion of certain nutrients, your susceptibility to certain diseases and your weight management. Understanding your genes is like having an important piece of the puzzle to your personalized health blueprint. The practice of understanding how your DNA interacts with the food you eat is nutritional genomics!

Bioactives are components found in food, which have the power to influence the way in which our genes behave. They act like biological switch masters, ‘switching on’ genes involved in processes that optimise health like detoxification and blood sugar control, whilst ‘switching off’ others that don’t serve us, like those that cause inflammation. Different ingredients have different bioactives and nutrients, resulting in varying food-gene interactions.

Anyone can make any meal optimize gene behaviour and health, whether is it a festive or weekday meal. The secret ‘recipe’ lies in which foods you choose to have on your table and how you prepare them, enabling the food information carried in nutrients and bioactives to be delivered to your genes in a format they understand.

Here are 7 easy steps to make sure your meal optimizes gene behaviour:

1  Include a cruciferous vegetable in every meal: When it comes to ensuring optimal gene behaviour cruciferous and green leafy vegetables such as bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, spinach and rocket are the star of the show. These food items contain the bioactive ingredient sulforaphane which activates our detoxification system. Always try including at least one in your meal.
 Swap out: Swap out ineffectual lettuce in your salad with greens like baby spinach, rocket, watercress, kale, bok choy or cabbage to increase your sulforaphane intake. Swap out some of your repetitively used fruit and vegetables with those that contain other bioactives such as beetroot which contains betaine, fennel which contains quercetin, cooked tomatoes that contain lycopene and berries which contain resveratrol.
3 Awaken bioactives: Awaken those components in food that best talk to your genes as some are not found naturally in their active form. Chopping, tossing and chewing activates the bioactive ingredient sulforaphane, found in your cruciferous vegetables. Cooking tomatoes activates the anti-oxidant-stimulating bioactive lycopene. The powerful anti-inflammatory bioactive curcumin found in turmeric needs to be consumed with a healthy fat like oily fish, olive oil or avocado.
4 Turn down the heat: Each bioactive has a different heat tolerance. Some bioactives are activated when cooked, such as lycopene in tomatoes, while others are very heat sensitive, such as sulforaphane, and become de-activated when cooked or heated. When it comes to your greens it is best to have them raw, lightly sautéed or steamed so that they are still crunchy.
5 Always use a cooked-raw approach: As a result of bioactives being heat sensitive, always try incorporating a raw element on your plate such as rocket, baby spinach, cabbage or fresh herbs.
6 Always dress last: Acid denatures and de-activates bioactives as well as some vitamins. Citrus and vinegar-based dressing should be served on the side or added to your salad just before eating.
7  Add a health booster: What extra sparkles and flairs can you add to increase the vitality-boosting powers of your otherwise ordinary meal? Add some toasted seeds or nuts; use a variety of oils; add some fresh herbs; place a spoon of fermented sauerkraut or vegetables; add a dollop of cultured yoghurt or sprinkle some seaweed strips to really top the dish off.

Just like that, in 7 simple steps, we have transformed your ordinary meal into a ‘genetically activated’ extra-ordinary one.

Now its your turn!Give it a go!

Nourish yourself to the sunrise.

Written with love ,
Sunrise by HM

Nourished yet? Comment on what I should write about next?

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