You may or may not have heard of methyl rich foods. Everyone needs them in their diet, basically because without them you run the risk of expression of your bad genes. This is a simplistic way of explaining the issue, however methyl rich foods are super important for all people.
If you are pregnant, or hoping to become pregnant, they become even more important. This is because, like anything connected with pregnancy, what you eat can shape the future of aspects of your baby’s health. But pregnant or not, take five minutes to read this article, because by reintroducing methyl rich foods into your life and diet, you can start to reprogram how your genes are being expressed. Recent studies have been carried out in UCD specifically about methyl rich foods for genetics and fetal health.
Methyl Rich Foods In Pregnancy…And Before Conception
Did you know that if a woman has nutritional deficiencies when she conceives, her baby’s genes could be altered permanently? In a report which was published in Nature Communications, it was found that maternal diet at the periconceptual period does in fact influence DNA methylation establishment.
What is meant by DNA methylation?
So what is DNA methylation? In your DNA there are combinations of four different types of nucleotides. These include guanine, thymine, ademine and cytosine. The term DNA methylation refers to when a methyl group is added to either the guanine or cytosine nucleotides. This modification of your DNA will alter the gene expression in your cells once they have divided and differentiated from the embryonic stem cells.
Perhaps this is an oversimplification, however it may help to regard it in the following way:
A lack or depletion of your body’s methyl groups is what leads to the expression of bad genes.
Why is DNA methylation important?
DNA methylation is very important because it is central for healthy development and growth. It can be linked to processes such as carcinogenesis, genomic imprinting, the suppression of retro viral genes and potentially harmful sequences of DNA.
DNA methylation plays a very important role in the development of cancer. So if there has been aberrant methylation, there will be a higher chance of malignancy.
Researchers over the past number of decades have highlighted the areas where DNA methylation plays an important role. These are:
- Embryonic development
- X chromosome inactivation
- Genomic imprinting
- Preserving the stability of chromosomes
So you can just think along the lines of methyl groups playing the important role of silencing certain genes.
What did this study show?
The study tested both on animals and humans. In a rural area of Gambia women took part in the study, because it had been identified that they experienced pronounced naturally occurring seasonal differences in their diet. The results of the study demonstrated that the status of women’s nutrition at conception and early in her pregnancy can, in fact, cause persistent epigenetic changes at human metastable epialleles.
What can you do as a pregnant woman or hopeful mother-to-be?
In terms of the study that we’re highlighting in this article, as a pregnant woman or a woman who hopes to become pregnant, you can ensure that your diet includes methyl donating foods.
Even though this article is about pregnancy, and the effects of nutrition before and during pregnancy, the same principles affect adults also. So if an adult has a methyl deficient diet this can lead to a decrease in DNA methylation. However if the adult starts to consume methyl donating foods, these changes are reversible.
Methyl Rich Foods – where to find them
If your diet is high in the following food groups, you can rapidly alter the gene expression of both your own body and that of your embryo’s, or do so when you conceive.
- Folic Acid
- B vitamins
- SAM-e – S-Adenosyl methionine – a supplement sold over the counter, but your body also makes it
Folic Acid Foods
- Citrus fruits and Juice
- Dried beans
- Enriched white rice
- Dark green vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, collard or turnip greens, broccoli, and okra
- Enriched flour and pastas
- Baked potatoes
- Yeast Extract
If you’d like to know more about the importance of folic acid in pregnancy, go here.
Here you can find a detailed breakdown of B vitamins and the foods that contain them
All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.