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Rodrigo Louvat
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Nutrition and genetics: What is Epigenetics?

DNA Helix

Demystifying Epigenetics

Epigenetics is the study of how your genes are turned on and off. It’s how your environment and lifestyle choices can influence your gene expression without changing your DNA sequence.

Epigenetics is like the conductor of an orchestra, directing how our genes play their tunes without changing the actual musical notes. In simpler terms, it’s the way our environment and lifestyle can influence how our genes work. Think of it as a set of instructions that can turn genes on or off, much like a switch.

Epigenetics infographic

Diet is one of the most important environmental factors that can affect epigenetics. The food you eat contains nutrients that can influence your epigenetic marks. Epigenetic marks are chemical modifications that attach to your DNA. These modifications can turn genes on or off.



For example, a diet high in processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables can lead to negative epigenetic changes. These changes can increase your risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.



On the other hand, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can lead to positive epigenetic changes. These changes can reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases and improve your overall health.


The Food-Epigenetics Connection

Picture this: You are what you eat, right? Well, when it comes to epigenetics, that saying holds true. What you put on your plate can influence how your genes behave and even impact your health.

1. Phytonutrients – Nature’s Superhero

sJust like superheroes protect the city, phytonutrients protect our cells. These are natural compounds found in colorful fruits and veggies. They come in various types, but some important ones include carotenoids, flavonoids, glucosinolates, and allyl sulfides.

  • Carotenoids: Found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes, they can help guard against diseases like cancer and heart disease.
  • Flavonoids: Present in berries, onions, and apples, these have anti-inflammatory powers and boost our immune system.
  • Glucosinolates: Think broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage – these can help fight cancer and boost your immune system.
  • Allyl Sulfides: Garlic and onions contain these, which are anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting.

2. The Power of Your Plate

You might be wondering how much of these phytonutrients you need. Well, there’s no strict rule, but here’s a tip: Fill half your plate with colorful fruits and veggies at each meal. This helps ensure you get a good dose of these health-boosting compounds.

3.Cooking Matters

How you prepare your food matters too. Overcooking can destroy some of the phytonutrients, so gentle cooking is key. And don’t forget to add herbs and spices to your dishes – they’re packed with phytonutrients too!

4. Specific Foods to Include

Here are some examples of phytonutrient-rich foods and how to incorporate them into your diet:

      • Carrots: Grate them into salads or add them to soups and stews.

      • Berries: Mix them into yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal.

      • Garlic: Add minced garlic to stir-fries, soups, and sauces.

    Tips `

    Here are some tips for improving your epigenetics with nutrition:

    • Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Different fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients that can influence your epigenetics in different ways.
    • Choose whole foods over processed foods. Whole foods are more nutritious and contain more epigenetic-friendly nutrients.
    • Limit your intake of processed meats, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats. These foods can lead to negative epigenetic changes.
    • Include healthy fats in your diet. Healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids can promote positive epigenetic changes.
    • Get enough vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are essential for epigenetic health. Make sure to eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need.

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