Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Nutrition: Is it Directed by Modern Science, Ancient Code or Both? Meg SmartDVM, PhD

To understand nutrition a nutritionist must keep an open mind and be familiar with many of the disciplines that impact on or are influenced by nutrition. The following is an incomplete list:
·       Soil and plant sciences
o   Factors that impact on nutrient availability
·       Animal science:
o   behaviour
o   environment, climate, housing
o   water quality and supply
·       Veterinary Medicine
o   livestock and pet wellness
o   toxicology
o   immunology
o   physiology and patho- physiology  
·       Cellular  biology
·       Microbiology
·       Genetics

The following definitions apply to the topics that I will be covering in this paper (These definitions with much more detail can be found in Wikipedia):
·       Epigenetics:
o   “Functionally relevant changes to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Examples of mechanisms that produce such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, each of which alters how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Gene expression can be controlled through the action of repressor proteins that attach to silencer regions of the DNA. These epigenetic changes may last through cell divisions for the duration of the cell's life, and may also last for multiple generations even though they do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently”

·       Nutrigenomics:
o    the scientific study of the interaction of nutrition and genes, especially with regard to the prevention or treatment of disease
o   is the study of the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression
·       Metabolomics:
o   The scientific study of the set of metabolites present within an organism, cell, or tissue.  
o   is the "systematic study of the unique chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind"
o    The metabolome represents the collection of all metabolites in a biological cell, tissue, organ or organism, which are the end products of cellular processes
·       Generational effects of nutrition
All natural ecosystems experience variability in food availability necessitating organisms to adapt to these times of shortages through phenotypic plasticity depending on the life stage involved especially during a juvenile state and can cause irreversible changes in them in adult hood or even further into the next generation.
·       Nutriepigenomics:
Is the study of food nutrients and their effects on human health through epigenetic modifications. There is now considerable evidence that nutritional imbalances during gestation and lactation are linked to non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. If metabolic disturbances occur during critical time- windows of development, the resulting epigenetic alterations can lead to permanent changes in tissue and organ structure or function and predispose individuals to disease