New research by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) raises the striking possibility that even small amounts of occasional poor food choices may produce significant changes in gene expression that could negatively impact physiology and health.
Researchers describe how metabolism and physiology are connected to diet. Using C. elegans, a transparent roundworm often used as a model organism in genetic studies, the research team observed how different diets produce differences in gene expression in the worm that can then be linked to crucial physiological changes.
They found that when C. elegans are fed diets of different types of bacteria, they respond by dramatically changing their gene expression program, leading to important changes in physiology. Worms fed a diet of Comamonas bacteria have fewer offspring, live shorter and develop faster compared to worms fed the standard laboratory diet of E. coli bacteria.
The researchers identified at least 87 changes in C. elegans gene expression between the two diets. This connection provided one of the critical links between diet, gene expression and physiology.
Amazingly researchers observed that even when fed a small amount of the Comamonas bacteria in a diet otherwise composed of E. coli bacteria, C. elegans exhibited dramatic changes in gene expression and physiology. These results provide the possibility that different diets are not “healthy” or “unhealthy” but that specific quantities of certain foods may be optimal under different conditions and for promoting different physiological outcomes.
“It’s just as true that a small amount of a ‘healthy’ food in an otherwise unhealthy diet could elicit a beneficial change in gene expression that could have profound physiological effects,” said lead researcher.
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You control your genes when you control yourself. Your genes are just a product of your lifestyle and the environment that you have created. This is so exciting. You have control over your destiny. You are not just a bunch of genes passed to you but instead you can control how those genes manifest. So get started DOING IT!