Plants are Nutrition's "High Fashion"


Food is information and food is medicine.  We also know that (plant) food is also very intelligent....


Left to their own synthetic-free devises, plants can actual detect when they are being attacked or eaten, and they’ll respond in kind with their own counter attacks. The more amplified the counter attack, the better the “medicine” (read antioxidant and polyphenol rich quotient) available higher up the food chain. A recent study now reveals supports the notion of vibrational medicine in plants, thus unifiying the idea that we are indeed all beings of energy and light. By sending vibrational signals to plants, to simulate an insect feeding on a leaf, researchers at the University of Missouri demonstrated that plants respond with defensive chemicals that can repel attacks. This supports an existing body of science that says synthetic free plants clothe themselves with a more robust amour which, in effect, is a more potent food-medicine for humans. 

So the science is very clear:  when we eat more plants, we get a free dose of natures best medicine? Hmmm …so why not eat more plants? There are so many answers to that question. We can begin with availability and affordability. We can move on to crop subsidies that tilt the market towards mass production of a minority of crops over a majority of “better for you” crops.  We can end with important ideas that speak to genetic differences among us relating to taste perception. But I don’t want to end there. As a nutrition professional specializing in culinary nutrition (translating the science of nutrition to the plate), you need to know why you should eat more plants. And the answer lies in the robust field of Nutrigenomics , otherwise known as the science that explains how food and its “constituents” influence your personal genes. 

This rapidly growing field of science is a critical component of the new era of personalized medicine.  Personalized medicine tailors a nutrient prescription to your unique physiology. Using a variety of tests, we can identify which specific nutrients or strains of bacteria you need to fine tune your inner economy. Nutrigenomics adds the custom fit (think haute couture) to personalized medicine by identifying which target nutrients will suite your unique gene profile.  
So let’s look an example that differentiates personalized and haute couture nutrition.  Nutrition testing may identify that you have a need for more folate (folinic acid) in your diet. But about 40% of us may have a gene aberration or mutation that suggests we need to take folate in a certain form, known as methyl folate.  This mutation is identified through the MTHFR gene. So if you are like millions of people, you reach for a folic acid supplement (the synthetic form of folate). The one-size fits all type of folate that in supplement form (folic acid), is actually toxic to those among us with the MTHFR aberration,  or polymorphism as it is also known. These folks need to supplement their dietary intake with a methylated form of folate known as 5-MTHF, in addition to eating a robust plant based diet to provide natural forms of folate. 


So what does all this have to do with plants and medicine?  

Well, it appears that the most robust forms of food-based medicine that influences our genes, just so happens to be found in plants, and there is plenty of science to support it. Some of the most robust evidence comes from Sulfurophane, found in your cruciferous vegetables, you know - the broccoli and cauliflowers of this world. Additionally curcumin, an active constituent of turmeric which is a member of the ginger family. Quercetin (Allium family), resveratrol (red grape skin) and catechins (green tea, cocoa, apples) among other foods have also been deeply studied, particularly with regards to regulating the inflammatory response. Inflammation IS the root cause of disease. 

So, back in the world of fashion, "haute couture," or "high fashion" appears to be reserved for the runways and wealthy of the world.   Does this means that nutrigenomics is only for those with runway passes? Fortunately no! You can write your own prescription to order your own nutrigenomic test and learn which foods will be your best gene fit. And guess what, if you don’t believe in the natural medicine of plants…you probably shouldn’t waste your money. Kind of like making a dress or a suit without a pattern! 


The NCHMD Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics: UC Davis
Center for Excellence in Nutrigenomics: Penn State
Nutrigenomics Research: A Review
It’s Not Just Your Genes