You Are What You Eat: How Your Diet Turns Genes On And Off

Health and Natural Healing Tips / Expert Kerry Harling  / You Are What You Eat: How Your Diet Turns Genes On And Off
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You Are What You Eat: How Your Diet Turns Genes On And Off

I think we’ve all heard the saying, “You Are What You Eat.” It’s an age-old saying, yet recent research has proven that this turn of phrase is more accurate than we ever realized.

I’m talking about the study of epigenetics. What is epigenetics? It’s the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.

In other words, what you eat, where you live, who you interact with, when you sleep, how you exercise, even aging – all of these can eventually cause chemical modifications around the genes that will turn those genes on or off over time.

The Components of Food

Many components of food have the potential to cause epigenetic changes in humans. For example, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain isothiocyanates, which are able to increase histone acetylation. Soya, on the other hand, is a source of the isoflavone genistein, which is thought to decrease DNA methylation in certain genes. Found in green tea, the polyphenol compound epigallocatechin-3-gallate has many biological activities, including the inhibition of DNA methylation. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric (Curcuma longa), can have multiple effects on gene activation because it inhibits DNA methylation but also modulates histone acetylation. [1]

This discovery is exciting because it corroborates the philosophy of Ayurveda – that we are all different and as such need different things in order to live healthy lives. Medicine is not one-size-fits-all.

One of the main issues with today’s health-care is that it isn’t “health”-care at all. It’s “sick”-care. We only go to the doctor when we are sick, injured or something is wrong. However is this really the modality of medicine that is most effective? Wouldn’t it make more sense to identify the foods, exercises, and lifestyle choices that are ideal for you so that you don’t get sick in the first place? Shouldn’t we identify the choices that turn on the genes that are beneficial and negate the genes that cause us health problems?


In Ayurveda, we recognize not only that everyone is different, but that each and every person needs different things to live a healthy life. Our genetic makeup or our bio-individuality type is known as our “dosha.” Our dosha governs our metabolic constitution,  personality, and physical characteristics. It is in essence, what makes you, you. By discovering your dosha you can determine what foods to eat, what exercises to do, and what lifestyle choices are best for you.

Modern Dosha Quiz

Use the link to our Modern Dosha quiz. This short quiz will tell you what your dosha is, foods, exercises, and lifestyle tips that are right for you as well as signs of imbalance.

It’s healthcare as it’s supposed to be, personalized, easy to implement and incredibly beneficial. We hope you enjoy!

Kerry Harling, Ayurveda Practitioner.

The Holistic Highway


Kerry Harling

Kerry Harling is a globally recognized leader in the field of integrative medicine and the ancient science of health known as Ayurveda. She is passionate about raising awareness for the need for a change in contemporary medicine that focuses on patient empowerment and a health-based (rather than disease-based) medical system. Kerry practices at The University of Pittsburgh Center for Integrative Medicine and remains a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine where she has developed a personalized system to manage chronic disorders by incorporating fundamental changes in diet, behavior, and stress while focusing on genetics. This individualized program is so successful that many of her clients have achieved maximum healing and vitality after years of chronic problems. Kerry is a published author and a Ted Talk presenter and author of the book the 25-Day Ayurveda Cleanse



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