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The nucleus is the command center of the cell; it controls cell growth and death. The nucleus also contains your DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) which contains your genetic codes. The codes are a set of instructions and most of the instructions explain how to make proteins. Enzymes are one particularly essential type of protein. These are the catalysts for all biochemical reactions in the body. Without enzymes, biochemical reactions would occur too slow for life. Therefore the speed of action of enzymes is important.
A biochemical reaction in your body may be affected if you do not have the genetic instructions to make a specific enzyme or your instructions may have been genetically modified so that an enzyme may function at a slower or faster rate. We all have unique biochemical functions.
Modification of genetic instructions can occur by the presence of a single nucleotide polymorphism. This is basically a coding error where nucleotides are paired with an atypical match. The DNA nucleotides are adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C). A is always paired with T and G is always paired with C. These pairs make up the rungs of the ladder in the DNA model. There are approximately 3 billion of these base pairs. A gene is a specific section and number of base pairs located on a particular chromosome. Human genes are commonly around 27,000 base pairs long, and some are up to 2 million base pairs.
A strand of DNA is wound around another structure called a chromosome and we receive 23 from each parent for a total of 46 chromosomes in each cell. Therefore a particular gene – made up of various numbers of base pairs, could be located on one of 46 chromosomes. Researchers are able to identify each base pair sequence which makes up an individual’s genetic code.
It was initially thought that when researchers broke the genetic code they would be able to compare differences across individuals and identify why some people had certain characteristics or conditions and others did not. Unfortunately, identification of the genetic code did not provide the complete picture. There was another factor which was demonstrated by studying identical twins. Although identical twins share the same DNA they didn’t always share all the same characteristics or conditions. It turns out that our genes are our tendency NOT our destiny. The key factor is whether a gene gets expressed – turned on or activated. Just because you have a particular gene – it may never get expressed and that is influence by epigenetics – something that effects the expression of the gene but not the genetic code. It works through chemical tags added to chromosomes which in effect switch genes on or off. These chemical tags come from the environment – what you eat, drink and breathe. These chemical tags can affect the ability to read the instructions to make proteins, particularly enzymes.
The production of proteins is essential to life. We are pretty much made up of protein and enzymes are proteins. Enzymes are catalysts for all biochemical reactions in our body and they are essential for life. Proper enzyme production is essential for life.
The production of proteins occurs in 2 phases: transcription and translation. In the transcription phase a molecule (transcription factor) must get to the DNA inside the nucleus and “transcribe” the instructions. The molecule leaves the nucleus with the instructions and relays the information to another organelle called a ribosome, which is the protein factory. Inside the ribosome the instructions are “translated” and the amino acids (protein building blocks) are strung together, like beads on a string, in a sequence according to the instructions. Each unique sequence identifies an unique protein.
A problem in protein production could occur at the level of the genetic code, epigenetic modification, transcription or translation. Issues at any of these levels may result in modification of the structure and function of the protein. Altered enzyme production may mean the enzyme functions at a slower or faster rate which has a significant influence on biochemical processes in the body. The pharmaceutical industry has designed many drugs capable of interfering with enzyme production and function for the purpose of mediating disease processes.
Our genes determine not just how we process food, but more important, how we respond to the foods we eat.
Food is a powerful epigenetic modulator, meaning it can change our DNA for better or worse. Food regulates the expression of our genes. Food actually tells our bodies how to function by signaling exactly when and how each different type of cell should behave in every situation. So, we want the very best information to reach our cells in order to achieve optimal functioning.
It is well recognized that diet and lifestyle effect cardiovascular disease, we now need to appreciate how important it is in all areas of our health.
Food is more than a social experience, or about satisfying taste, taming hunger or providing energy; food is information. We need to eat a wide variety with a diversity of color, because the colors have flavonoids; a diverse group of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits due to biochemical effects, which inhibit a number of enzymes. Phytonutrients talk to our DNA!
Enzymes require multiple "helper molecules" called co-enzymes and cofactors to function appropriately. Vitamins and minerals are co-enzymes and cofactors. Magnesium is an essential cofactor for over 300 enzymes in the human body. All of the water-soluble vitamins and two of the fat-soluble vitamins, A and K are co-enzymes. Many of these must be ingested in our diet, as they cannot be made by human cells.
Eat a rainbow of colored foods daily . Check out the list Phytonutrient Spectrum Foods. Try to eat some foods raw as cooking can alter nutrient density. A good way to tell if your food is losing nutrients is by its color; if its normally vivid colors start to fade while being boiled or cooked, your food is losing its phytonutrients.
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