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Personalized Nutrition and Epigenetics

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Personalized nutrition tailors dietary recommendations to an individual’s unique biological needs, factoring in genetics, lifestyle, and health conditions to optimize health, prevent disease, and maintain overall well-being. Central to this approach is the role of epigenetics, which studies changes in gene expression that do not involve alterations to the DNA sequence but can be influenced by external factors such as diet. 

For instance, certain nutrients can affect DNA methylation patterns or modify histone structures, which in turn can activate or repress specific genes. Understanding how diet impacts these epigenetic changes is crucial for determining how an individual’s gene expression can be influenced by their dietary choices. This knowledge allows for the development of tailored dietary advice that can promote better health outcomes based on an individual’s specific genetic and epigenetic profile, making personalized nutrition a powerful tool in modern healthcare.

In this week’s episode of the Everything Epigenetics podcast, I discuss the connection between epigenetics and nutrition with Dr. Lucia Aronica. We explore how lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, stress, sleep, and environmental toxins influence epigenetic modifications. 

Dr. Aronica highlights the role of epinutrients, such as methyl donors and phytochemicals, in gene regulation and emphasizes key nutrients like folate and choline that are essential for methylation reactions. Our conversation also covers nutrigenetics, examining how genetic variations affect individual dietary responses, while cautioning against relying solely on genetic testing for nutritional guidance. Dr. Aronica advocates for integrating nutri-genetics with other health markers to develop personalized nutrition plans. 

We also discuss findings from the DIETFITS study about the impacts of low carb and low fat diets on gene activity and epigenetic modifications, and insights from the “You Are What You Eat” documentary series. This discussion further highlights the significant influence of diet on epigenetic aging and overall health.

In this podcast you’ll learn about:

– The science behind how our DNA and diet dance together to determine our metabolic health
– How nutrition affects our epigenetic
– Epinutrients such as methyl donors and phytochemicals
– Sulforaphane
– How an individual’s genetic makeup influences which diet is most suitable for them
– What biomarkers (besides epigenetics) can researchers utilize to assess response to diet
– The DIETFITS study (low carb vs. low fat diets)
– How weight-loss affects gene activity through epigenetic modifications
– The TwiNS study
– If going vegan can actually reverse your biological clock
– Why influencers completely missed the mark on our research
– Simple food and lifestyle changes that revitalize your genes


welcome to the everything epigenetics podcast where we discuss DNA regulation and the insights it can tell you about

your health I’m Hannah w and I’m the founder of everything epigenetics today my guest

is Dr Luchia aronica today we’re going to be really

diving deep into epigenetics and nutrition Luchia is an expert in this

space more specifically we’re going to be covering a basic epigenetic overview

what does this really mean how does this relate to nutrition in the first place

we’ll also be talking about epin nutrients and examples of those and how we can actually use epin nutrients to

lower hopefully our biological age on other uh hands you know you can increase it as well if you’re not getting enough

maybe of those epin nutrients we’ll talk about sulphoraphane which is a powerful epin nutrient and we’ll also talk about

neutr gentics so are you able to create a diet plan based off of your genetic

makeup we’ll talk about two of her most popular studies the diet fit study which

is looking at low carb versus lowfat Diet as it relates to genetics

epigenetics metabolic health and other factors and then we end with a review of

the twin study where they look at an omnivore versus vegan diet and they look

at EP genetic clocks again genetic makeup some further information uh

included in the study too without further Ado a quick bio for my guest Dr

Luchia aronica is a lecturer at Stanford University she is really well known for

the genomics R&D lead at metagenics and is an acclaimed speaker in the field of

personalized lifestyle medicine her research and teaching really focuses on that Neutrogena

component I mentioned which is the science of how nutrition genetics and epigenetics interact with one another to

impact our Health and Longevity across our lifetime Dr aronica established the

first certificate program in neutrogenia at Stanford and has helped thousands of

professionals Implement neutrogenia in their business and without further Ado

here is my guest Luchia ironica everything epigenetics podcast Luchia I

am super excited to have you today thank you so much for joining me thank you very M much for having me Anna it’s a

pleasure I’m super excited to chat with you and and get back into recording my podcast I believe you’ll be the very

first episode of of season 2 and I’ll release this here soon um and I really want to explore your expertise which is

epigenetics of course what we’re here to talk about today and really nutrition

the real science behind how our DNA and diet dance together I think you put

beautifully um sometimes to really determine our metabolic Health uh whether it be right now or later on in

life so I really want to start with the basics here um re-engaging and re introducing my my audience how does um

epigenetics really affect nutrition and maybe I’m even jumping the gun because I’m so excited to dive into it feel free

to even give us a little bit of your your background and how you got started in in nutrition ending up with how nutrition really affects our epigenetic

expression yes perhaps I will start with a very short background about me um I

I’m From Italy of course from my accent you can realize and I was born in Italy and did

my master studies there and then um I’ve been in the epigenetic fields field for

over 17 years uh researching first I started with the

small RNA is a type of epigenetic U modification or molecule

and then uh moving to histone modifications and finally to DNA mation

which is a a type of eptic modification that we can reliably measure with

accuracy at a single Nu nucleotide level I’m talking about that because later on

we will talk about tests uh like reg gentic clocks that are based on DNA

mutilation and um I’m studying now DNA mutilation in the context of nutrition

and specifically clinical trials that compare different types of diets like uh

spec most of our studies focus on low carb versus

lowfat diets and one of our latest study that was also featured uh in Netflix do

documentary you are what you eat a twin experiment was looking at the comparison

between a vegan versus an omnivorous diet and we will talk about all these

later but now let’s start um from the basics I’m sure your audience is

familiar with uh with epigenetics but just just to uh sum up epigenetics from

the Greek prefix Epi means me on the top

describes a a layer of molecular instructions like these meal groups but

there are many other uh molecules uh that regulate gene expression uh

modulating genes up and and down now unlike our genes which don’t

change um during time of over our lifetime epigenetic

modifications are dynamically Modified by lifestyle factors uh such as diet

exercise but also stress sleep environmental toxicant and we call all

these lifestyle factors and our lifetime

exposure to them the Expos

now uh coming to your question diet is

one of the most powerful exposome

factors influencing our epigenomes and there are many studies showing this in

animals and in human um in human beings

um specifically we know that there are some nutrients

in in the food we eat I that I call EP nutrients that uh can that are really

essential for the proper functioning of the of the epig genome some of these

nutrients are primarily found in animal Foods uh specifically meal so-called me

donors which donate these meal group that are essential for DNA mutilation

and other epigenetic modifications but also for several other biological

processes beond epigene epigenetics like DNA synthesis synthesis of crucial

molecules like creatine phospha choline so basically metalation is at the center

of our physical and mental health um and

the second category of EP nutrients uh comprise um a set of um phytochemicals

so molecules that are found primarily in plant Foods uh that can

modulate the activity of enzymes that can write or erase epigenetic

modifications from our genes that’s affecting expression and all these pH phyto

chemicals comprise things like polyphenols like flavonoids for example

my favorite ones are the one found in olive oils chocolate dark chocolate uh

coffee but popular ones also include curcumine the main active ingredient of

turmeric um and uh also anos cyanines

like that are polyphenols uh believed to be uh very beneficial for brain health

um found for example in things like blueberries uh also we have

carotenoids um that have been Associated always with the younger

epigenetic age we can talk about that later and we also have a class A very

interesting class of um of these uh um EP

bioactives I call the second category of phytochemicals uh that um are basically

produced when we cut or chew or chop

some plant foods like garlic or broccoli and cruciferous vegetables so they are

not contained in the plant itself but when we chop and eat these plants we uh

activate a reaction where whereby this this these compounds are produced and

one of the most famous example is sorane in broccoli and cruciferous

vegetables which I think the the magic about suorin is it’s that it isn’t

itself an antioxidant but it can turn on a Cascade

of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory genes so actually it’s even more

powerful than something like vitamin C that you take it and only lasts two

hours whereas suoraan you take it and in experiments the the gene regulating

effects are lasting 72 hours so maybe you can eat like a portion of broccoli

every two three days and enjoy epigenetic benefits of turning on your

own antioxidant defense system so this is what I call EP nutrition is just

understanding the really the fundamental um uh nutrients and building blocks of

course not only what wheat influences our epig genum but also when we eat we

know that for example fasting intermittent fasting can also uh

influence our epigon and sometimes even the uh macronutrient composition so we

know for example that uh on a ketogenic diet we produce Ketone bodies and Ketone

bodies have actually an epigenetic function they are produced on both

fasting and the ketogenic diet and they have several epigeic function that are

primarily anti-inflammatory but we still don’t know all the the functions we know that ketogenic diets

are therapeutically used for a variety of conditions especially

[Music] um tra traditionally like epileptic uh children that are drug

resistant to drug therapy but also now mental health um conditions so and it’s

it’s possible that the epigenetic effects of ketones contribute uh to these

benefits yeah yeah that’s lovely Luchia thank you for for laying that that

groundwork I appreciate that nice answer and you know one one point that always

comes up too when I’m speaking with Healthcare Providers about these epigenetic clocks and really using them is we always now hear This this term I

think Dr Markman uses it as well you are what you eat or you know food is medicine right you see it all over

social media it’s almost like it’s it’s explaining or talking about epigenetics

Without Really directly saying it so that’s what I think you just explained is really going deep into those those EP

nutrients and and I got to say I would probably agree with you there I’m a huge fan of olive oil chocolate coffee I

probably could have you know pick a favorite out of um each of those but yeah those really containing these epin

nutrients to modulate uh epigenetic expression and ways that are beneficial for our biology is really key in

understanding you know maybe which ones are are right for you now one thing as well Luchia I remember listening to you

speak at plmi this past year Dr Jeffrey Bland’s uh conference and I loved your

slides I was picturing them in my mind as you were saying you know if you have the you’re adding and you’re taking away

these methyl groups you’re turning things on and off and it’s like the the pencil eraser I think you had a really nice slide that actually showed almost

like an animation of writing and and erasing um which I think is a a really good comparison as well and the last thing

I’m going to say and then ask you some more questions is uh I’ve recently been

going down this own Journey myself with sulfurane um as as a supplement that I’m taking so there’s a really really cool

company of course you know you can eat the the broccoli as well and and want to make sure you’re getting enough um

naturally through foods but if you’re still a little bit lower and you’re like me where I know I have a lot of

oxidative stress build up and reactive oxygen species in my body um I do this

this I really like this company called Brock shot um it’s a really um kind of natural all-encompassing company that is

going to make sure you’re getting um those exact Sprouts you need to form sulfurane that’s going to convert

correctly into your body so um I wasn’t sure if you were aware or if there’s any other you know supplement based

sulfurane companies out there that you like as well that’s very interesting so I’m not familiar with this company I

know that are many companies and basically what you find on the market as I mentioned suorin is produced from a PR

carcer that is called glucoraphanin and when you cut or chop broccoli then uh

you basically release myrosinase the enzyme that acts on glucoraphanin to

produce suorin while I’m explain this to you because this is important to understand the different supplements you

find on the market some of them only have glucoraphanin and unfortunately this

don’t work because uh basically I think is only 1% that you convert on average I

don’t remember the exactly percentage so it’s very little depends on on your microbiome the one that get uh that

contain myosin glucan plus myosin they seem they are better but

they’re still not elevating your sorine level we don’t know why probably because my rosiness is destroyed in the gut and

then we have the third category maybe this is what your supplement is about

where you have stabilized soran which is patented I think only um

some uh uh some uh companies uh do it I’m familiar with one I think is the

brand name is suine and it’s used for pro uh prostate

cancer is uh prain the the the product I don’t I don’t I don’t remember the the but it’s

a it’s actually is a is a company based uh in Europe interesting yeah I’ll send

it to you afterwards I know I always look at the the names of the precursors it contains the one that starts with a g and the myos so it contains both of them

okay so it’s good but probably the best would be stabilized supp workin stabiliz

yeah they may stabilize it too I don’t know I’ll send it to you afterwards so it could the best would be taking the

Sora the end product not the precursor that’s that’s uh you know that this is

what has been studied used in many studies so the Sor stabilized suorin

which is I think more expensive but I agree I mean sulation sometimes can be a healthy

shortcut to yeah I think people need to understand just what to look for right and kind of the differences which I

think is really really important to to talk about so um I’ll I’ll shoot you an email afterwards and and send

but what I want to talk about now Luchia is you know how does one’s individual

you know let’s say even genetic we can talk about epigenetic makeup too but how does that really influence which diet is

right for them can you look at someone’s epigenetic or genetic profile and say this is what you should eat and this is

why this is the science behind it are we really there yet okay so first of all let me take a

step step back because what we talked about is called Nutri epigenetics so how

uh actually the food we eat can affect the uh our genes gene expression through

epigenetics now the flip side of that is called Nutri genetics what you are

asking me now about so how our genes can affect our response to

nutrients and Nutri igenetics and nutritics work hand in hand

in nutrigenomics which is basically an umbrella term to describe everything

about the interaction between genes and nutrition and so it’s Nutri gentics and

Nutri gentics now of course yes there is this is a dialogue so the respon the I

can only say yes of course genes do affect many aspects on our response to

food from obvious examples like food in tolerances lactose intolerance is a

famous example to even our preference for sweet Foods versus salty foods we

know there are some genes influencing that and who has people who have a

predisposition for a sweet uh tooth they also have actually a double rate of CES

and problems and dental problems so yes there is an influence now I think your

second question that’s is are we is Are We There Yet we can can we already make

recommendation based on your genetics and I would say it depends there are

things where yes there is there are some genetic variants for Nutri genetic

variant that are backed by science and then there are uh for

example you may have heard about and TFR is a gene that basically um produces an

enzyme and th HFR that activates folate or vitamin B9 from the

food we eat so if we uh have a variant a very common variant in this Gene so this

is not a mutation don’t many people call it this A mutation a mutation is a very

rare genetic variant and it’s like one 100 thousands or million people and it’s

rare for a reason because it’s not been selected by Evolution and so very often

is associated with disease so when when doctors say that you have a mutation in

MTHFR patients are scared and and rightly so uh and this is because is a

mistake from is not a mutation it’s called a single nucleotide polymorphisms

polymorphine there are many variations and it’s common for example the re the

region where I was born Campa Italy there are actually more people carrying

these polymorphisms like 60% 30% have two two copies my mom is

one my mom is eight she’s 83 years old vibrant she has four kids and you know

and she has two copies of this polymorphism that’s presumably predisposes you to have like

miscarriage and all sorts of diseases and so of course this is a

predisposition a weakness but that needs to be expressed that only expresses itself in

in a context so we were talking about nut genetics this is an example of that it can be useful however to know to that

we are a carrier with many people or we have to copy is just because in this way

we can make sure to actually do what we are supposed to do anyway so which is uh

it’s a a diet that is Rich enough in folate to provide more opportunities for

this enzyme to actually activate the enzyme um and folate is found like you

can eat the whole the fet you need in one day um just with fewer less than 100

calories from uh 200 Gr of spinach or 30 G of liver and uh and then we also need

more Coline if we carry this polymorphism uh because Coline works

with folate in in its cellular functions

which are detoxifying hosy and powering metil reactions so Coline is found

primarily in eggs and and liver a little bit in meat uh and um and and then uh in

uh only in limited amounts in plant foods like broccoli and nuts um so you

know knowing this um can actually motivate us to meet our dietary

requirements so I think there are some variants like this one and there are many other ones in that can predict your

how many o if if you can activate the Omega threes from Plants food to the

active one we need like EPA and DHA these variants I think they have you

know they’re useful to motivate people to actually do what they are anyway

supposed to do even with vitamin D you know there are things that we should do but we can motivate ourself and this is

called also the nudge Theory uh so actually the uh um I think Richard tler won the

Nobel prize in economics recently um uh talk talks about this Theory whereby

little nudges like this one like indirect uh suggestions like ah you have

this jeans you you maybe should be doing that are actually more powerful than

prescriptions eat your Eat Your Spinach eat your colon you know so I think this

is where the value of Nutri gentics and lies um because in the end the

commendations are basically we should be doing things that we yeah we should yeah

that nothing really um yeah but um and then there are things where uh I think

we are not there yet and probably will never be uh for example recommending uh

a low carb or lowfat diet or keto diet based on genetics and unfortunately

there are companies that claim that this this this is this is working I mean we don’t have we have studies showing some

studies show that but the studies were not done with truly low carb diet or

even keto diet uh I um uh I we we wrote

a review that I can link if you want I can send you the the

yes where we actually talk about this problem so that there are not no studies

on keto diet and very low carb very low carb diet with Nutri genetics and yet you have company saying

keto is not for you yeah or so it’s it’s it’s crazy and in one of our study the

diet fit study the stand for diet fit study this was the largest randomized clinical trial ever undertaken to

compare a local carb versus lowfat Diet with 609 um people uh enrolled overweight

anyway we we tested three of these Snips that are commonly included in this DNA

diet um claiming that they can predict whether you are going to respond to lose

more weight in response to a low carbet diet we didn’t find any signal whatsoever um and our diet was more like

a true low carb diet especially in the first months um with with less so people

in the first months were eating less than 20 30 grams for carbohydrate and

then they increased like 100 up to 100 grams uh 12

months but was still low carb truly you know a low carb diet so you know I think

there there there is a good uh some some there there is a Poss possible good use

of Nutri genetics and the more reputable companies um can provide those Services

it’s it’s hard yeah I think to to sum that up too thank you for for that answer and the transparency and the

honesty so sure based on a couple Snips or variations I like that you used

genetic variation instead of mutation I know we’re trying to move away from from that because there is a big difference

there especially when you’re talking one-onone with with a patient so maybe there are a couple VAR uh variance um

variations of that Gene that snip that single nucleotide polymorphism that could give you hints or suggestions on

what you should focus on but we’re not saying you know here’s your genetic makeup this is what you need to eat for

breakfast lunch and dinner to reach X goal right yeah and if I can add something

here because I think um the the the second problem is that also let’s say

that it’s true that our genetics for example can influence the way we respond

to carbohydr so we may well have some genes that predispose us actually that

protect us from developing diabetes that increase our tolerance to carbohydrates

but let’s say that you have been eating whole your life refined carbohydrates and sugar

very likely by by the time you are 40 you have some either pre diabetes or

some glucose tolerance problem independently of your genes so getting a

test that tells you ah go go more carbs and more that it may actually be

detrimental so there is a predisposition and there are other metabolic factors and markers

it must be integrated for a truly personalized and you should have Nutri

genetics and then integrate that with other markers and see whether they can

confirm that that predisposition even with vitamin D if you are you are predisposed to be deficient but then you

are doing all the right things not to be deficient then you don’t need to take

more right so absolutely yeah so always have combine different tests and I I’m

an advocate for that as well and you also need you know to to test if you’re doing any type of Repeat based testing

you need a baseline you need to work in all of those results together we’re getting more and more toward this

personalized journey and and healthare it’s really truly n ofone precision-based medicine and sometimes I

can get a little frustrated when everyone’s like you know what should I take what diet should I be on what should I do and I can give them very

general answers based on these large populational based studies but they still need to do that you know n of1

testing on themselves to really understand what works for for their body and and their biology so um that that

makes perfect sense and you know it leads perfectly into my next point I was going to bring up that diet fit study

that you mentioned you already kind of gave us a really great background it’s like you mentioned the largest study

ever undertaken in personalized nutrition looking at low carb versus lowfat diets um and that I think primary

goal of the study you can correct me if I’m wrong was really to understand how weight loss affects gene activity

through these epigene modifications and whether we can actually use those modifications to predict diet response

for personalized weight loss strategy or just in general and you said you know no there’s really not that that strong

signal there is there um anything else that you want to add about that diet fit study before we go into uh the twins

study yes is that as you say is one of the largest study in personalized

nutrition because we uh basically um the

the the rationale of the study is that one diet doesn’t be tall so we collected

lots of molecular markers um uh trying to identify those

markers that could predict who is going to respond best to which diet so

genetics wasn’t wasn’t uh didn’t at least show the the three gen three genes

that we tested didn’t seem to predict uh that and then we also included many

other uh markers including epigenetics but also microbiome metabolome and I was

leading the epigenetic analysis so what we found we didn’t find

epigenetic markers that could predict who go was going to respond uh best but

we found interesting things so the first thing we found and we didn’t publish the

result yet we had we had so many other things to publish and work on but we will publish that eventually so one

thing is that we saw that um some epigenetic markers of of diabetes like

uh a marker that you also include in your test abcg1 um basically showed an improvement

on both diets diets after weight loss basically showing what um we were talking about

before that epigenetics is modifiable by um nutrition and weight loss and so if

basically what happens is that when we gain weight there is this particular genes and this is just one example that

gets meated and turned off and this is a

gene involved in diabetes and and then when we lose

weight the good news is that some of these epigeic marks are written in pencil so we can erase them we have the

power to influence our epigenetics and um and these is

associated with health outcomes in this case these an important genes in di

diabetes and we can turn the genes back on again so this was a very exciting

finding and then we also found uh that there were clear difference in gene

expression between people on a low carb and a low fat diet and

interestingly uh for example the people on a low carb diet up regulated their

their fat metabolizing enzymes so and this makes sense if you eat more fat

because on low carbohy diet you eat more fat you are going basically to to turn

on the genes that make you uh break down fat and this also brings us back on the

conversation on Nutri genetics uh and Nutri genetics because let’s say that you know genetically you don’t have good

fat metabolizing genes but then you go on on a on on a diet and you turn those

those genes on so there is always like yes the the predisposition but then is

the lifestyle that also contributes to to the efficiency of those enzymes so

it’s always a conversation I think these were the interesting the most interesting findings for that

analysis yeah and it it it really is that nature versus nurture Pole where

your nature is going to be that neutr genomics if you will or your genetics and the nurture is going to be the epin

nutrients if you will or the epigenetics and you know I think we’re still trying to figure out I I think we are learning

that possibly epigenetics makes up you know a bigger chunk of these Health

outcomes or has a larger relationship to all cause mortality morbidity um

compared to genetics I think we’re still trying to figure out you know is it 8020

is it you know 6040 or where that break really is but the power is that it’s all in your own hands now right you’re in

the driver’s seat you can understand your genetic predispositions but there are a lot of positions where we can

start to again add these methyl groups and shut genes off that we don’t want to turned on or take away these methyl

groups Express genes that we do want turned on and you mentioned that abcg1 Gene as a very specific example that’s

related to type two diabetes so I think you know even the reason behind us having this conversation is to make

people aware about this your your health is in your own hands we can make even some of those intuitive lifestyle

choices that may relate to diet right instead of grabbing for the the candy bar right before you’re going to go to

bed either skip it um or again you know smaller portions of that compared

compared to Veggie fruit intake so there there’s that intuitive piece in there as well but you can really start to get

more personalized once you’re looking at that individual level so what I want to go over now

Luchia is we’re we’re getting to the end here maybe about 10 more minutes left or so I want to spend the rest of the time

talking about the twins study on Netflix that Drew a lot of commentary and and

eyes it’s that you are what you eat documentary series and this is H based

really on a particular study we did together called unveiling the epigenetic impact of vegan versus omnivore diets on

Aging insights from the twins nutritional study and of course that’s going to look at those different effects

of vegan versus omnivore diets on epigenetic aging and a lot of other related biomarkers so I can give more

and I can explain more I’ll have you walk through this and and you know give us the uh Lowdown from from top to

bottom and we can pull out and pick out specific uh parts that we we really want to dive deep into yes yes and just to

provide more context um so the Netflix Von true Diagnostic and I were part of

the Netflix uh documentary and were co-leading these epigenetic analysis

which was which actually was not anyway at at the core of the main study

published um so far and at of the Netflix documentary so we are now really

going to talk about something that nobody has has been talking about so far

so so let’s first uh talk about the the the main study in general and then talk

about the epigenetic results in our first in our preprint so um this was a

randomized clinical trial including 22 twin pairs one twin was randomized to a

healthy vegan diet and the other to to a healthy omnivorous diet why we call

these diets healthy because both diets were uh without uh or minimizing uh the

intake of processed food but and this is important they were not low carbohydrate

diet we actually encouraged um six serving of grains and starchy veggies

every day so is important also to understand now the strength of the study

was that we used twins that share not only of course the same age sex um but

also very often the the same environment and all these things can influence also

on um epigenetics of course and the analysis of epigenetic clocks now the

study also had some limitations we only had 44 people it was

of short duration eight weeks and a very important limitation

that was by Design so it was not a mistake we not we didn’t design the

study to be isocaloric which means we encourage people to eat to satety and and so this

resulted in differences between the groups and so the study many people

accused uh us uh that they say that this was an unfair comparison because of this

but the study was not decided to designed to be isocaloric so what

happened the results um uh the people were assigned to the vegan diet ate

fewer calories uh fewer calories per day and

they uh ate less sugar more fiber they

lost more weight and they showed a slower epigenetic

aging according to three main uh epigenetic clocks that we used for these

epigenetic analysis now because we know that all

these factors especially calorie restriction weight loss and probably

even sugar fiber can affect uh epigenetic aging we can’t conclude

whether it was the vegan diet itself or all these other factors that were

driving the the slower epigenetic age and unfortunately this was a common

misinterpretation o of the study that came up over and over in the media

coverage the study was a robust study the the bad part was the

misinterpretation and the polarization uh because of course the

Stark contraposition of vegan versus omnivore and uh and also Netflix

documentary on our study really um uh were leading led to polarized views

with somebody praising the study as a win for vegan and other people just

dismissing the study because it was an unfair comparison but these views don’t

represent what we found so I uh anyway I I want to emphasize something that uh

was was not really discussed uh even in the documentary is that yeah vegan diets

without proper supplementation especially of B12 um are

are epigenetically incomplete so we were talking about epin nutrients right and

b12 is also an essential vitamin it’s not only essential for epigenetic

mechanism but this an essential vitamin and um it’s found in uh in um quantities

uh in bigger quantities and more by available forms only in animal Foods

it’s uh it’s uh virtually impossible possible to get enough p12 uh on a vegan

diet and many vegan know that right is it’s just we need to inform or also new

people that start the diet that this is a necessity right you can try one vegan

diet if you supplement and you can choose a vegan diet for many reasons

even I have my sisters that are B both vegetarians so there many for for

ideological reason anyway the point is the the stud is not saying that vegan

diet epigenetically healthier and uh I you know mechanistic studies so the

clocks the epigenetic clocks are Great and Powerful tool to measure these uh

physiological changes and and we able to track the improvements the physiological

improvements that we see on vegan di but they don’t say anything about mechanisms

and from mechanistic studies we know even uh in mechanistic studies M mice

but we know the experiment of the agouti mice the mice that were genetically

identical and yet one was fat and yellow and the other mouth was lean and brown

and the difference between the two mice was the diet of the of of of the mother

that was lacking except B12 Coline and other meal

donors and and also Coline another it’s another nutrient that that is very

difficult to get in in in in quantity sufficient quantity on that is possible

but is difficult just to give you an idea uh you need like four to 500 uh

milligram a day and you get about 100 migam for 200 g of broccoli plus 50 gr

of of nuts it’s one4 so you need to you need to work on

this I mean it’s possible but don’t just assume that you are getting enough easily whereas one egg one egg yolk

provide the same quantity and some meat you can combine with meat some egg so there are more options for omor people

and one last thing we did also find that um people on the vegan diet reported

less diet satisfaction they ate uh less protein uh as percent of of calories

they lost more muscle mass so I think these are also challenges to consider in

the long term so being mindful for people on a vegan diet to eat enough

protein and make the diets enjoyable longterm and perhaps engaging some

strength training to counteract the possible loss of of a muscle mass and uh

uh and finally one one last conclusion of course for any study we don’t have

answers for questions that we didn’t ask so we didn’t ask the question of whether

of comparing this vegan diet to another type of on neous diet perhaps one that

is not as rich in starchy vegetables and and Grains so we don’t have we don’t

know whether in that context an omnivore diet could perform could provide similar

benefits or even Superior benefits we just didn’t ask that that question so

and this is just because there have been many I mean over interpretation and misinterpretation of the study that I I

feel it’s important to uh discuss here so thank you for giving me that

opportunity oh of course and this is really why I was most excited to to chat

with you today is to really dive a little bit deeper in this I think you and me both as scientist you know it’s our job it’s our duty to explain the

study very clearly and you know I I think you’ve done that I think what the media can do is grab things you know pin

ideas against one another they saw you know vegan versus omnivore and it just got really really taken out of context

without you know the people who are even probably talking about it I’m not sure that they actually read the study and

and you know understood what was done so um it’s a very great study we’re just scratching the surface and starting to

understand how diet really affects and modulates the epig genome when I explain

the study as well all of those points you hit were extremely important and looking at some of those epigenetic

clocks which by the way were all um I believe second or third generation as well I I’ve talked about that as a theme

on on my podcast so hopefully those those listeners are are familiar um and

and we are starting to understand more and more about how turning on and off genes like the goody Mouse uh trial that

you you brought up in you know 2003 I believe um I speak uh with Randy joural

in one of my previous episodes where we go through um kind of that process on on what that looks like so again everything

we’re eating our environment that nurture were actually affecting that gene expression um the the point I was

going to make though is I really like actually looking at the individual and

this is a new topic I’ve never talked about before on my podcast we’ll dive deep into it on another episode but kind of those um components or epigenetic

biomarker proxies those ebps that we can go back and measure in

each of the diets to see again what’s really being affected so there was one

uh protein in particular called the ribonuclease pancreatic protein that

actually changes with vegan diets and that was documented you know 10 15 even

20 years ago in the literature and we can actually see that protein change in

the vegan diet on an epigenetic level as well so you know I think people like

to you know pick something from a study and run with it but you know as

scientists we’re also running these studies these studies to really gather more data that will

only really start to um create more studies from and more analyses right we’re leaving with more questions than

than answers which I think is always great as as a scientist and as the the field continues to grow yeah you

beautifully say that yes I think this is a great study and studies like these

really Advanced field in ways that are perhaps not you know so immediately

meaningful for people Liv to understand whether vegan or an omni War diet is is

better which is actually a question that we shouldn’t be asking abut but it’s uh

yeah as you said I’m also very very um I’m fascinated and I find very promising

so the use of igenetics for estimating really changes in uh in enzimatic

activity and metabolize because this is really bringing together all the

Sciences in personalized nutrition like metabolome EP gentics proteomics and

they they they will basically converge get together and and and have lots of

cross talks that we advance the people of course yeah so we’re we’re getting to

the end here for everyone listening um Luchia a couple more more questions you know what’s next for you where can

people find you well make sure we link everything you have a couple courses and really fun things that we can give to

the listeners as well if they want to learn more um but yeah tell us what’s next you know are you still extending

one of these studies and then where can people find you yes so I will academic

still um I’m a Stanford I will keep researching epigenetics uh and diet and

I’m focusing now on education so education for nonexperts and Healthcare

practitioners I have a new brand course for nonexperts um you can go over um at Dr

aronica Dr and check out my new course where I’ve condensed my

University teach teaching um uh teachings in accessible lessons for

nonexperts uh it’s perfect for anyone who wants to dive deeper in the topic

whether it’s for work or personal interest and you can also uh take a sneak peek for free in the first lecture

and get a 20% discount if you click in the link uh in the video description and

um you can uh I’m also now focusing on my Italian audience so um I have a

YouTube channel in English Luchia Ronica and I I’ve started one in Italian I’m

writing my first book on epigenetics and diet in Italian if it’s uh I will consider to translate it in uh in uh in

um English as well and I’m creating some courses for healthcare practitioner

there is only already one out uh with the health of optimization medicine and

one coming uh with the metabolic Health Initiative uh

probably next year uh and I’m I’m happy to partner uh with new courses I’ve been

teaching this this topic I established the first uh nutrigenomic uh course with

on epigenetics and nutrition at Stanford for the Stanford professional certificate and so I’m happy to

collaborate with other organizations you can find me on LinkedIn um and YouTube

uh at theia aronica mly and on my website dion. comom yeah I’ll link all

of those Google or name show show pop up um you know this has been amazing Luchi I really appreciate your time I’m GNA

have to either learn Italian um or get the book translated to English because

I’m definitely going to want to read it so there are so many great assets I have one final question I ask all of my

guests at the end as well Luchia if you could be an any animal in the world what

would you be and why ah this is difficult you’ve thought about it then

huh I don’t know you know um the curve ball wasn’t on the agenda

right yeah you know I I’m not sure I think I would be a deep sea

animal just because I like um I very

often like feel like the the ocean myself I’m very calm at the bottom and

very excited and bubbly on the surface this is me like I love it yeah so I

think I don’t know which animal but we with something like a deep water animal like that yeah I I I don’t I haven’t

given an answer yet either but I would go with something I think in the water too and I don’t really know know why yet

so cool well we’ll we’ll leave it at that thanks everyone for joining us at the everything epigenetics podcast and

remember you have control control over your epigenetics so tune in next time to learn more thanks Luchia bye

About this Guest Expert

Dr. Lucia Aronica
Dr. Lucia Aronica, Ph.D., is Lecturer at Stanford University, Genomics R&D Lead at Metagenics Inc., and an acclaimed speaker in the field of personalized lifestyle medicine. Her research and teaching focus on nutrigenomics — the science of how nutrition, genetics, and epigenetics interact with each other to impact our health and longevity. Dr. Aronica established the first certificate program in nutrigenomics at Stanford and helped thousands of professionals implement nutrigenomics in their business.

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