“Everything matters and everything is important in regulating gene expression. The diet for which specific lines of study have been born in the sector that under the names of:
1) nutrigenetics, or the study of correct nutrition in relation to the genotype, which aims to identify a targeted dietary intervention for each individual, which has a particular constitution, in order to prevent the onset of pathologies
2) of nutrigenomics, which studies how diet modifies gene expression. So today we know, for example, that, referring to cancer diseases, there is a wrong diet, which is responsible, as several epidemiological investigations show, for the onset and progression of 30% of tumors, while on the contrary there is a correct diet that is in able to prevent and slow down the progression of 30% of tumors.
Therefore making a mistake in the diet has an extraordinary importance in the prevention and treatment of tumors. Without going into too many details, we can say that the diet that promotes the onset and progression of tumors is a diet rich in animal fats, that is, red meats, various types of cured meats, butter, dairy products, cheeses, rich in sugars and particularly of refined ones, low in fiber and elements essential. On the contrary, a diet that prevents and slows down the progression of tumors is a diet low in animal fats, rich in fiber, therefore in vegetables of all types (taking into account that some types of vegetables, such as potatoes must be eaten in moderation), rich also of fruit (the recommended amount is on average four to five portions of fruit per day), in which lean meats of fish, turkey, rabbit are allowed (even those of chicken, only if free range, because unfortunately the farmed one is rich hormones and antibiotics, which therefore makes it inadvisable).
It would also be a good idea to eat 3 meals a day, the most energetic of which in the morning, while recommended is a normal meal at midday and a very moderate one, with few calories and carbon hydrates in the evening. Furthermore, between the 3 meals the intake of sugars is not recommended, especially the refined ones (for example, coffee with sugar), because the refined sugar enters the circulation quickly and this involves a peak of insulin in the blood, which should be avoided as insulin is a factor that promotes tumor progression. Of the three daily meals, only fruit intake is recommended, which, by containing complex carbon hydrates and many anti-tumor factors, is therefore allowed.
There are also many natural substances that have an anti-tumor effect: some of them are mentioned here, referring to a more in-depth analysis of the topic. Many food components have the potential to cause epigenetic changes in humans. For example, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain isothiocyanates, while polyphenol compounds found in green tea and curcumin, a compound found in curcuma (Curcuma longa), they can have multiple beneficial effects, modifying gene expression and thus preventing the onset of tumors. Also resveratrol, contained for example in red wine, or myo-inositol they have various beneficial effects, both anti-inflammatory and anti-degenerative.
Diet is not only important for the prevention and treatment of many chronic degenerative diseases, but it is also important during pregnancy to prevent future diseases in the unborn. Indeed epidemiological studies have shown that individuals born to mothers exposed for various reasons to calorie restrictions during pregnancy have a higher rate of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity than their siblings. This seems related to epigenetic changes: changes in gene expression during development in the uterus may persist during adult life.
Some deficiencies in pregnancy can give rise to known malformations: for example, folic acid deficiency in pregnancy is known to be responsible for the birth of a newborn baby with spina bifida. Movement and exercise also have importance in regulating DNA epigenetically. For example, it has been shown that after a physical exercise, changes occur at the chromatin level of the cell nucleus, which cause DNA to synthesize proteins, which promote the demolition of fats. This shows that our body and muscles adapt in a plastic way to what we do, to the movements and muscle exercises performed during the day. Thus exercise can be fully considered a medicine and a means of changing our epigenetic code and improving our health. Here I want to emphasize that both the external environment, or the landscape that surrounds us, the air, the water, the food, the social environment, and the internal environment or the sensations, emotions, our thoughts, our desires profoundly change our epigenetic code. If this occurs in the early stages of life, epigenetic changes can have a significant influence on an individual’s adult life, on his physical and mental health. All factors of the external environment such as climate, lack of sun or not, human relationships, social circumstances, constantly change gene expression and involve an imprinting that sometimes lasts a lifetime. What genetics has told us so far and which in part continues to tell us is that each of us is the result of what is its genetic constitution: from the predisposition to diseases, to its intelligence, etc., everything is related to the constitution genetics.
Genes, as we know, are parts of DNA, which are ultimately responsible for protein synthesis and therefore determine what one is and what one will be. It is not possible, except through genetic manipulation (as scholars who only share the reductionist paradigm of science still maintain), to change our genes and therefore one is more or less lucky if he has good, not fragile, genes that can keep in a healthy state for a long time. This is true, but only partially, because in reality much of the research of the last few years tells us a different story.
What I have tried to say about tumor diseases, for example, which are still considered by most scientists and oncologists to be non-reversible diseases, is a different story: most part of the tumors depend on lifestyle, on different environmental causes, on exposure to various carcinogenic substances, which can act on the genome causing mutations, but also epigenetic alterations. All these alterations, as I have tried to explain and demonstrate in the previous pages, can be by-passed and cancer cells can be reprogrammed, returning to be cells with a normal phenotype, using specific and targeted programs that can be found in the embryo in the moment when life is formed. Finally I told how everything counts in the control of gene expression: diet counts, physical exercise counts, mental and emotional states count, the environmental characteristics in which one lives count, family and social relationships count, and all that matters whether or not to maintain our state of health and the integrity of our genes, thus preventing disease. But when a serious disease, such as a tumor disease, has established itself, then targeted treatments must also be put in place.
In this case it is necessary to put in place a treatment aimed at correcting more specifically the errors induced by the tumor on the genetic and epigenetic code: it is a question of using the specific factors of the epigenetic code taken during cell differentiation, which as mentioned above, are able to repair the damage that is at the origin of malignancy, by reprogramming the cells and differentiating them into normal cells, or they are able to induce programmed cell death (apoptosis). In both cases the result is the same: the tumor disease can be controlled and in some cases the tumor can regress. The same thing applies in the presence of chronic degenerative diseases, such as neuro-degenerative, psoriasis or other complex diseases: also in this case we must use the specific substances taken in the different moments of embryo differentiation, that is, we must use the specific programs capable of to repair various damages. These programs are the same that life uses to organize itself: each of them is able to perform precise tasks and precise functions and each of them must be used specifically to obtain the desired results. As has been said in the presence of specific diseases, we must use specific epigenetic programs: this will be the way of the future, even if for the moment all the research is still focusing on genetic manipulations and for a certain number of years we will still have to deal with ” genetic editing ”, on which biotechnology firms will focus and make large investments. This will above all happen for economic reasons, because, as already said, genetic manipulations are patentable and therefore any gene therapies will be in the hands of the most important multinational companies in the world, which will aim to make huge gains. There is only one hope: that the multinational companies, which now govern the world of information technology, come into play, because they have understood that the future of science will be cellular reprogramming. This approach will not only concern cancer diseases that can thus be tackled in an innovative way in the future, but in general it will cover all chronic degenerative diseases, dysmetabolic diseases, inflammatory diseases, auto-immune diseases and anti-aging treatments. In fact, as I said in a very concise way, it is already possible today to increase the duration of our life, but also to prevent aging. This is very important, because if we increase the life span, without preventing aging, in the end we become like Methuselah and we will have a poor quality of life that we will not accept willingly. But if we increase the lifespan and simultaneously prevent aging, as experimentally demonstrated and published, without however carrying out genetic manipulations, then the situation completely changes and the way becomes viable and desirable.
So, as already mentioned, with the various collaborators it has been shown that the different programs that together make up the entire epigenetic code have the multiple functions that have been described in the specific chapter. If these are the main strands that will concern the future of science, there is one thing that we can do right now in every moment of our life and that will serve us to keep us healthy: love and laugh. We have already said about the beneficial effects of love and forgiveness. On laughter yoga and on all-round yoga (therefore asana, pranayama, meditation etc.) there are studies that report how these practices are able to epigenetically inhibit the genes responsible for the synthesis of proteins related to inflammation and stress (already in 2008 a publication on Plos One reported a study on yoga and its beneficial effects on gene expression). After all, my friend Nitamo Montecucco, who organizes many meditation and mindfulness courses in his Center “The Global Village” in Bagni di Lucca, has shown in various studies how through meditation there is an epigenetic balance that leads to an increase in the efficiency of the hormonal system, of the immune system, with activation of the centers that reduce stress, so that a sense of well-being, pleasure and increase in self-confidence are achieved.
Laughter then and the yoga of laughter bring this feeling of well-being and pleasure to the climax. Laughter yoga, practiced as it does in his Richard Romagnoli Workshocks, where alongside a sensational laugh, which only he can do, a life philosophy based on love, on the acceptance of what life offers us, on forgiveness is presented and on the sense of gratitude towards all living beings and all creation, it represents a real therapy, which significantly increases the conditions of well-being and health in each of us.