Cure with food is always as possible. According to a discipline that is spreading rapidly and that studies the relationship between nutrition and pharmaceuticals, nutrition can become so important as to be able to modify our epigenetic heritage. This new food science is called “ristoceutics” and seems to be able to significantly affect the health of our heart. We talked about it with Professor Giulio Stefanini, cardiologist at Humanitas.
Cardiovascular risks and nutrition
Among the factors related to the onset of cardiovascular disease, according to experts there are two key elements: oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Poor nutrition has an effect on both of these factors. That’s why ristoceutics is looking for a new way to feed patients who are most at risk thanks to a system that exploits the fertile synergies derived from the combination of nutrients.
An example? A plate of barley auricles, rich in beta-glucan, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, turnips and cabbage is high in polyphenols and shelters from oxidative stress. Its constituents also have a cardioprotective action, acting on histonic deacetylase.
DNA and nutrition
Restoceutics starts from an apparently simple assumption: if we know the mechanism of the constituents of food on the epigenome (i.e. the set of instructions that regulate the functioning of the genome), it is possible to imagine the creation of a diet that brings an ad hoc benefit to the individual, affected by his specific weaknesses from the medical point of view.
Essentially vegetable-based, this type of diet is also sustainable and significantly reduces the consumption of animal meat.
But what exactly does epigenetics study? This discipline is essentially concerned with studying how the agents responsible for DNA changes, key elements of our gene expression, the so-called miRNA and lncRNA, behave. These agents are able to communicate with each cell, “telling” it which genes should be activated, for how long and at what specific time in life.
The Food and Drug Administration in the United States has put extra virgin olive oil on the list of medicines. This condiment is in fact a powerful anti-inflammatory because of its high content of oleic acid that inhibits the enzyme DNA methyltransferase.
However, to say that noble foods such as oil, nuts, blue fish and tomatoes have a healing power is extremely reductive.
The correct approach to ristoceutics is obviously more complex than it seems. It is important to take into account the lifestyle and the amount of physical activity that actually takes place. Especially when it comes to heart health.