Look after your DNA with good nutrition

Did you know that 99.9% of all our genetic material is identical in humans, which is what identifies us as a species? The 0.1% of our genetic material is different from person to person and  is what makes each person unique (causing differences in things like hair and eye colour, height and nutrition needs). These differences between people are called gene variations or polymorphisms. [1] Some gene variations may cause rare diseases (and are often referred to as mutations), while others are more common (and are just described as polymorphisms). Gene mutations and polymorphisms may interact with other genes and with factors in our environment (including diet, smoking, physical activity etc), to play a role in the development of complex disease such as Type 2 diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease. [1]

So it is really important that we do everything we can to look after our DNA. There are three main ways to look after our DNA with good nutrition:

Preventing DNA damage. We should do everything we can to try to prevent DNA damage occuring because genetic mutations can lead to serious illnesses including chronic disease and some cancers.

To help prevent DNA damage from occurring ensure your diet is rich in nutrients, such as carotenoids (orange, yellow, and red foods, and dark green leafy vegetables), and foods rich in vitamin E (seeds, nuts, avocado).

DNA synthesis. In order to help our bodies synthesise or make DNA, we need foods rich in nutrients such as folate (vitamin B9) found in dark green leafy vegetables, pulses and legumes. A number of fruits are a great source of folate too, oranges being the highest but also look at grapes, grapefruits, banana and strawberries.

Other nutrients needed for DNA synthesis are vitamin B12, zinc and magnesium. If you’re a vegan then getting B12 into your diet through food alone is going to be a challenge so a supplement of at least 10 micrograms daily is recommended because Vitamin B12 is usually found in animal products. [2]

Superfoods spirulina and chia seeds and rich in magnesium, chia also being rich in zinc, iron, calcium and niacin (see below).

DNA repair is a very important: the body has the ability to repair areas, or mutations, that may have occurred due to DNA damage.  Key supporting nutrients that can assist with DNA repair are vitamin B3, or niacin, (peanuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms), and folate (vitamin B9).

Chlorella is the fastest growing food on the planet, so eating it dramatically increases our rate of tissue repair and renewal, helping restore the nervous system, boost immunity and potentially helping degenerative disorders.[3]

It’s important to remember that it’s not just about the nutrients in foods though, so just taking a supplement of some of these key nutrients may not provide the same benefits as eating foods rich in these nutrients. There are so many other properties of foods, such as our bioactive molecules, antioxidants and polyphenols, which also provide an important synergistic benefit. [1]

My personal recommendation would be to add a general multi mineral and vitamin supplement on top of a well balanced diet in order to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs. Organic foods are best as they will be more nutrient dense, however our soils are so depleted nowadays that we need to supplement in order to ensure we put enough into our bodies through our diet.

I personally take Organic Greens complex (chlorella, spirulina, sea greens, wheatgrass) daily blended with orange juice, banana and avocado every morning, sprinkled with chia seeds and nuts. I know that I’m nourishing my DNA and it gives me a great start to the day!

[1] Monash University https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/food-as-medicine/1/steps/77475

[2] Vegan Society https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-and-health/vitamins-minerals-and-nutrients/vitamin-b12-your-key-facts

[3] Little book of superfoods by Tipper Lewis https://uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/jackiemarsden/area/shop-online/category/books/product/9332/little-book-of-superfoods/

Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.