The Relationship between Nutrigenomics, Cancer, and Outdoor Activities

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The Relationship Between Nutrigenomics, Cancer and Outdoor Activities

Purpose + Summary of Article

The purpose of the article I reviewed was to examine how the role of nutrigenomics plays in relation to lifestyle driven diseases, such as cancer. This information may in turn impact your outdoor lifespan in relation to health limitations. Nutrigenomics is a relatively new topic that is becoming progressively popular due to the discussion of how lifestyle and food habits influence the body’s molecular components. More specifically, how metabolizing nutrients among individuals is different for each person, as well the affects nutrients have on gene expression (Nasir et al., 2019).

For example, literature suggests the consumption of dark roast coffee reduces DNA damage associated with aging (Schipp et al., 2019). However, what’s important to understand is that this area of knowledge is at our forefront. Nutrigenomics and epigenetics is incredibly exciting to be aware of as science progresses and gives us insight on factors that may influence our longevity positively.

Essentially nutrigenomics focuses on the relationship between what we eat and gene expression. Gene expression, in simple terms refers to genes that are active, or “turned on” or genes that are non-active, or “turned off.” Gene expression can influence diseases by how we improve each DNA segment (single nucleotide polymorphism) through lifestyle modifications.

As expressed by the authors, a variety of sources agree that not all peoples’ bodies react the same to specific foods. React, meaning, maybe two people consume broccoli and feel different afterwards. One person feels good and the other has digestive distress. With this in mind, it is important to understand the capabilities of nutrigenomics in relation to disease, as gene expression can determine how you metabolize, absorb, and digest particular foods.

Why is this important for outdoor enthusiasts? If a person was to have a food reactivity panel done to establish what foods they react to positively and negatively, they may put themselves in an advantageous position to prolong their outdoor lifespan. Knowing what foods work well with yourself may lower your chances of specific diseases. It could be a valuable concept to be aware of if you like outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, big game hunting, biking etc.

However, besides specific types of nutrients that affect gene expression, it is noted that the amount of nutrients composed in food also plays a role in our genes. Meaning, if you were not going to get a food reactivity panel done, at the very least aim for consuming foods that are nutrient dense. Nutrient dense foods = plants and animals. Nutrients discussed throughout the peer reviewed article include omega 3 fatty acids, dietary polyphenols, curcumin, apigenin, resveratrol, genistein, minerals, and vitamins (Nasir et al., 2019). These specific nutrients can be found in plants and animals.

Why are these nutrients important for outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of? Because, they are associated with preventing cancer due to genes responding positively to them. As a person that has a passion for science and the outdoors, in my mind, I will strive to incorporate as many of these specific nutrients in my daily life as possible.

If I can positively influence my bodies genes and overall health, I know in turn I will also decrease health limitations long term. More specifically, preventing cancer and other illnesses by modifying lifestyle choices and prolonging my outdoor lifespan sounds extremely ideal to me. Meaning, instead of not being able to hike at 76 because of health limitations, I extend my hiking lifespan to 91 due to the necessary lifestyle changes I made nutritionally.

The authors conclude the review by suggesting the evidence presented, informs us that nutrigenomics can be an effective method in preventing and curing various types of cancers and other diseases. Modifying and improving dietary approaches can significantly improve lifestyle related disease processes. Completing a genetic test, should be a priority based on the current evidence if you want to pursue longevity in health.

Conclusions and Implications

The content in the article is incredibly useful for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, as it explains how the role nutrigenomics can influence overall health. In my eyes, as a person with a background in this field, typically it appears from a nutritional perspective, that a lack of education and discipline from the general population seems to be a common trend among individuals who have compromised immune systems and are sick often. By continually learning where nutritional science takes us, new research in areas such as nutrigenomics can be a major milestone for our society as our ever-growing population is booming.

The information in the article is highly relatable to people involved in outdoor endeavors as it gives us insight on what we may be able to control (dietary habits) that are associated with diseases such as cancer. The benefits of exposing outdoor enthusiasts to nutrigenomics is to educate ourselves on how specific foods can influence our genes towards diseases, the amount of each nutrients we need, and it also guides us with the knowledge needed to take care of our health in a world full of diseases and illnesses.

An obstacle for people when diving into Nutrigenomics is understanding the monetary fund’s available to get your genes tested, which may not be an option for some. This may be frustrating when first exposed to the content which is why I personally think just being exposed to this topic and how it can be intertwined with outdoor activities is incredibly important in itself.

From a personal standpoint, I was fortunate enough to be able to have my gene segments SNP (single nucleotide polymorphisms) tested from 23 and Me. Then, to receive a detailed analysis of my genes, I sent the information to (FoundMyFitness Genetics – Genome Analysis Tool) to determine what diseases I may be more prone to based on my genetic panel. As an example, I had my JAK2 gene analyzed, which controls the number of blood cells produced for survival. Based on my genetics, a segment of my SNP is associated with having a 2-fold increased risk for cancers of the blood, such as leukemia. With this knowledge, I was motivated by this report to try and optimize my health. A great method for lowering my risk of blood cancers as described in my gene report is to intermittent fast for at least 16 hours. I dive more in-depth about intermittent fasting in a previous article (“Are you 40 years of age or older and enjoy big game hunting?”) posted on our blog.

Personally, I thought it was incredibly valuable and worthwhile to receive this information (SNP Test). It may influence my overall quality of my life, as well as my outdoor lifespan. Did I incorporate my genetic recommendation? Yes! I will discuss my bodies response to the changes more in depth in another article. Although, I realize there may be obstacles to getting your genes tested, the content expressed in this article review provides insightful information that should be taken into consideration for extending your quality of life in the outdoors.

Overall Assessment

In my informed opinion, the information provided is an incredible resource for people involved in outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, big game hunting, biking etc., to incorporate into their life for the practicality it offers us. As a strength, this study was presented clearly by giving the reader the principles of what nutrigenomics consists of, a brief overview of cancer and it relationship with diet, specific nutrient breakdowns, and future research of nutrigenomics (Nasir et al., 2019). Future research signifies continual learning which I am excited to witness as the field of nutrigenomics continues to expand. I personally agree with the main points expressed in the article as they were clearly stated. From a reading standpoint the content was organized strategically for the reader to get a base foundation of knowledge and then build on scientific terminology affiliated with nutrigenomics. As a person with a background in this field, I am excited to pass on the content displayed in this article as I feel it is a topic that is worthwhile to cover for the beneficial qualities it has to offer for people involved with outdoor activities.

Disclaimer: The information provided from ANION is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare professional with questions you may have regarding a medical condition. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References

FoundMyFitness Genetics – Genome Analysis Tool. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.foundmyfitness.com/genetics

Nasir, A., Bullo, M., Ahmed, Z., & Imtiaz, A. (2019). Nutrigenomics: Epigenetics and cancer prevention: A comprehensive review. Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition., 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2019.1571480

Schipp, D., Tulinska, J., Sustrova, M., Liskova, A., Spustova, V., Lehotska Mikusova, M., …Shaposhnikov, S. (2019, December.) Consumption of a dark roast coffee blend reduces DNA damage in humans: results from a 4-week randomized controlled study. Retreived from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30338878