A new study from Cambridge’s Babraham Institute confirmed that the consumption of fruit and vegetables protects the human body from infections, as well as diseases such as cancer.
This study is one of many that show that humans can, to a large extent, change how their DNA expresses with the power of a plant-based diet. This is what is known as an epigenetic change – a change that occurs “on” the gene without changing the DNA strand itself.
In this particular study, scientists discovered that when fruit and vegetables are consumed and come into contact with our healthy gut bacteria, it causes short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) to enter our cells.
When the SCFAs enter the cell, a disease-promoting protein known as histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) is shut down and chemical markers known as crotonylations are placed on our genes.
These chemical markers have the ability to turn our healthy genes on and our disease genes off – known as gene silencing.
Think of it as having switches inside your genes, and you can choose to turn off diseases that have been passed down to you from previous generations. In this same way, you can also choose to turn on the healthy genes that your family members carried.
A High-Fiber Diet Is Essential In The Prevention Of Colorectal Cancer
It’s important to note that the HDAC2 protein is very much involved in the development of colorectal cancer. Therefore, it’s especially important for those with a family history of colorectal cancer, or those with pre-cancerous polyps to consume a high-fiber, plant-based diet.
Also noteworthy is the fact that high-fiber foods, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are responsible for the proliferation of the healthy gut bacteria which trigger this entire process. Clearly, the benefits of a diet rich in plant foods are many, and the importance cannot be overstated.
- Fellows, Rachel, Jérémy Denizot, Claudia Stellato, Alessandro Cuomo, Payal Jain, Elena Stoyanova, Szabina Balázsi, Zoltán Hajnády, Anke Liebert, Juri Kazakevych, Hector Blackburn, Renan Oliveira Corrêa, José Luís Fachi, Fabio Takeo Sato, Willian R. Ribeiro, Caroline Marcantonio Ferreira, Hélène Perée, Mariangela Spagnuolo, Raphaël Mattiuz, Csaba Matolcsi, Joana Guedes, Jonathan Clark, Marc Veldhoen, Tiziana Bonaldi, Marco Aurélio Ramirez Vinolo, and Patrick Varga-Weisz. “Microbiota derived short chain fatty acids promote histone crotonylation in the colon through histone deacetylases.” Nature Communications 9, no. 1 (January 09, 2018). doi:10.1038/s41467-017-02651-5.