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My children´s health depends on what i eat.

Catherine de’ Medici was born in Florence and became the queen of France. She had a number of children, all of whom were afflicted with poor health, some even dying at a very young age. Then she decided to introduce broccoli from her native Italy. From that time onwards her children no longer experienced health problems. Epigenetics is the study of modifications in the expression of genes caused by external factors other than alterations in DNA sequencing and which can be passed on. The nuclei of our cells contain chromosomes, which are large chains of DNA that contain genetic information. Fragments of those chromosome chains are genes, which are units of information. DNA chains surround proteins (nucleosomes). When methyl groups (CH3) come into contact with DNA, the nucleosomes are joined together, blocking or switching off the fragment of DNA. The genes it contains can no longer be read and are therefore no longer expressed, as if they did not exist. Our genes do not change in our lifetime, but what can be changed is the way in which some genes are expressed and in which some are effectively silenced.

 

What can cause these effects on our genes? The answer is very broad; it can be our environment and can range from pollution to diet and lifestyle. The environment in which we live has an impact on the way our genes are expressed. Our diet and lifestyle can reprogramme our genes. Substances like broccoli, green tea and bisphenol A can alter our genes. And knowing that these changes can be passed on, we should be much more careful about what we eat, seeing that the health of our children and grandchildren depends on it.