The diet of our grandparents. This is one of the keys so that one day we will become one and we can teach our grandchildren that traditional eating pattern that some research reveals contributes to creating trademarks genetics in our body that prevents diseases and helps us to have healthy aging.
Life expectancy in our country has doubled in a few generations. In 1900, it was 34.76 years, and in 1998 78.71 years; they are 43.95 more. And since 1960 they have won more than 14 years. Experts point out that in the first stage this increase was due to the reduction of infant mortality and in the second to the improvement of universal healthcare, which led to the control of some diseases, such as those of cardiovascular cause.
However, the challenge today is to reach old age in good health. It is not the same to have an old age as an autonomous individual, independent, and with quality of life than to suffer chronic diseases and multiple ailments. The former is possible. “You can reach 90 years with a good state of health,” says Ana Belén Crujeiras, director of the Epigenomic Research Group in Endocrinology and Nutrition of the Santiago de Compostela Health Research Institute (IDIS).
The eating pattern is a great help, based on the results of research carried out in the field of what is known as epigenetics. Healthy foods provide us chemical markings (called epigenetic) correct, that is, they activate a molecular mechanism that helps regulate the correct functioning of genes and, for this reason, can contribute to the prevention of some diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
“We work to show that healthy habits help prevent diseases because they are layers to add, correct epigenetic marks,” explains Crujeiras, who prefers to talk about eating patterns than about specific foods. Specifically, your group works on the properties of the Atlantic diet, similar to the Mediterranean diet but with more content from fish, vegetables such as turnip greens (typical in Galicia), and local products. Either one encourages the production of those positive epigenetic marks, they can even be combined.
Ultimately, it is the traditional pattern: “We have to go back to the diet of our grandparents,” he emphasizes. In addition, we have resources that facilitate it in the fast daily life of the XXI century: “The preserves and the frozen food they are a healthy alternative to fresh produce that can be prepared quickly ”.
Foods that prevent diseases
The expert mentions some foods with scientific evidence for prevention. Studies show that broccoli and turnip greens have components that prevent cancer. Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6, which protect against heart disease, and is ideal to prevent obesity “because it provides many nutrients and few calories”.
Likewise, to prevent cardiovascular diseases, fruits, and vegetables are recommended, which have vitamins, fiber, minerals, and compounds antioxidants, which contribute to healthy aging because it reduces oxidative stress. Dairy has a protein of high biological value, calcium, minerals, and vitamins, which promote good health. Legumes, eggs, or lean pork are other healthy foods.
“We always talk about prevention, not about treatments,” emphasizes the endocrine, who as a general rule proposes a diet that consists of eating fish three times a week at least two or three legumes, and five pieces each day of fruits or vegetables. He completes it with the consumption twice a week of meat from pork, chicken, or rabbit, one of beef and a dairy every day (more children).
More than three eggs a week
Eggs deserve a special mention, which has not always enjoyed a good reputation for their connection with the cholesterol when, in fact, it is a very complete food, an important source of protein and nutrients. “It also provides vitamin D, whose deficiency is related to many neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s”, Highlights the IDIS researcher.
Ana Belén Crujeiras adds that it is a food that does not make you fat, if it is cooked, grilled, or scrambled, it is easy to prepare and accessible. And nothing to limit your intake to three eggs a week; in your opinion, you can take even two eggs a day.
An international investigation has recently become known, in which researchers from the Center for Biomedical Research in Obesity and Nutrition Network (Ciberobn), which concludes that eating four eggs a week is healthy for your heart.
According to the study, published in the journal European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there are no risks related to maintaining a regular consumption of four eggs a week. The results indicate that eating an egg a day on average was not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, except for people with heart failure and only in studies conducted in the United States or with diabetes patients.
This is the most comprehensive study published to date on egg consumption and cardiovascular health. And the bottom line is that probably there is no serious scientific reason to advise against the egg to the general population and that it has more a protective effect for cardiovascular diseases than a harmful one.
How does epigenetic regulation work?
Epigenetics refers to changes that occur in gene expression but do not affect DNA sequences. These mechanisms participate in the regulation of various physiological functions, connecting environmental factors with their contribution to the development of different diseases. “It is as if it were the spelling of the book of life”, Means Crujeiras.
The role of epigenetics in explaining interindividual differences with respect to various metabolic pathologies (along with classical factors, such as the genome) is gathering momentum. The IDIS researcher explains the differences between genetics and epigenetics: “With genetics you are born, if you have a mutation, it will not change and it can influence the susceptibility to some disease. Epigenetics are those chemical marks that we can modify ”.
Along these lines, the studies carried out by his group show that people with obesity present a specific epigenetic pattern, different from people with normal weight. They have also shown that these epigenetic marks may be the molecular mechanism by which obesity is associated with other diseases such as diabetes or cancer. Researchers have described an epigenetic pattern in breast and colorectal tumors: “The results could suggest the existence of a specific molecular subtype of tumors induced by excess body weight. Furthermore, the epigenetic signature of obesity-related breast cancer previously identified in breast tumor samples was detected in blood cells. Said signature was associated with menopausal status, adiposity, and eating pattern ”.