Do Our Genes Define Our Destiny

Do Our Genes Define Our Destiny

Posted on Nov.04, 2014, under Eye Conditions, Eye Health, Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info, Low Vision Tips

Are you concerned that you may inherit an eye disease from one of your parents or that you have handed down your eye condition to your children? Thanks to the field of nutrigenomics, our inherited genes are just part of the story. In 2003 the Human Genome Project was completed that provided a detailed map of human DNA. Many researchers and scientists have discovered the genetic flaws that lead to many different eye diseases – such as retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt’s disease and macular degeneration. For instance genetic changes involving the CFH gene contributes to a person’s risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and mutations in the ABCA4 gene lead to Stargardt’s disease. However your genes alone may not determine your destiny. You may be able to suppress harmful genes through diet and lifestyle and express your healthy genes in the same way.

“The exciting, emerging field of nutrigenomics is introducing us to new ways to use food and lifestyle choices to suppress our “bad” genes and express the “good” ones that help prevent disease, counter environmental toxins and increase longevity factors.”

Stephen Pratt, MD and Ophthalmologist Scripps Health

Gene Expression
It is not just having defective genes that predispose us to certain diseases, it is the expression of the gene that leads to poor health. Genes can be turned on or turned off. Nutrition and lifestyle choices affect how genes function or how they are expressed. Normally it is not just one gene that leads to a chronic disease, but a number of different genes. Unlike the medical field that focuses on treating diseases once a patient has been diagnosed, nutrigenomics works by intervening before a person develops a chronic condition.

Turning Off the Bad Genes and Turning On the Good Genes
Foods and/or supplements can influence how your genes work. Suppressing the expression of harmful genes may delay or even prevent some of these eye diseases. According to the Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics at the University of California, Davis,

“Nutrigenomics has received much attention recently because of its potential for preventing, mitigating, or treating chronic disease, and certain cancers, through small but highly informative dietary changes. “ While good nutrition can turn on the good genes, poor nutrition can turn on the expression of bad genes. It is just as important to exclude unhealthy foods as it is to include healthy foods.
Researchers are finding that certain foods can access our cells DNA to signal a good gene to turn on. It is the bioactive chemicals in food or supplements that can alter the structure or expression of our genes. Nutrigenomics is still a very young field of science but it is offering hope to those who believe that they are defined by their inherited genes.

Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN