DNA Methylation

| 6 April 2021
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Flagging up why a vegan diet is best

The DNA that makes up your genes is often referred to as the blueprint of life because it contains all the instructions needed for you to grow, live and reproduce. Our genes don’t change when we change our diet but the way the body interprets them may. Our bodies use a process called methylation to regulate which genes may be read or not read (gene expression). Such modifications can affect the development of chronic, autoimmune or age-related diseases. Researchers interested in seeing if methylation patterns differed between vegans and meat-eaters looked at participants in the Adventist Health Study-2 and found that, yes they did.

This discovery may go some way to helping understand the mechanisms underlying how a healthy vegan diet, containing plenty of fruit and vegetables and wholegrain foods, lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

Miles FL, Mashchak A, Filippov V et al. 2020. DNA methylation profiles of vegans and non-vegetarians in the Adventist Health Study-2 cohort. Nutrients. 12 (12) 3697.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
Justine joined Viva! in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. After working as a campaigner, then researcher and writer, she is now Viva!’s head of research and her work focuses on animals, the environment and health. Justine’s scientific training helps her research and write both in-depth scientific reports, such as White Lies and the Meat Report, as well as easy-to-read factsheets and myth-busting articles for consumer magazines and updates on the latest research. Justine also recently wrote the Vegan for the Planet guide for Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign.

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