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A recent article in Medscape (Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2013;9(8):735-747.) looked at the role of foods in the management of IBD. The author Lynette Ferguson summarised some of the key areas, and this summary is a synopsis of her paper.

Inflammatory bowel disease includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are both inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Both types of inflammatory bowel disease have a complex aetiology, resulting from a genetically determined susceptibility interacting with environmental factors, including the diet and gut microbiota. Genome Wide Association Studies have implicated more than 160 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in disease susceptibility. Consideration of the different pathways suggested to be involved implies that specific dietary interventions are likely to be appropriate, dependent upon the nature of the genes involved. Epigenetics and the gut microbiota are also responsive to dietary interventions. Nutrigenetics may lead to personalized nutrition for disease prevention and treatment, while nutrigenomics may help to understand the nature of the disease and individual response to nutrients.

An intervention with selected dietary products affected inflammatory processes, oxidative stress, and metabolism in humans, as shown by large-scale profiling of genes, proteins, and metabolites in plasma, urine, and adipose tissue. The use of food stuffs as the principle medical intervention is far more relevant to outcome than simply delivering micro-nutrients and controlling calories.[1]

Foods contain biological information that is recognised and translated by our genome. The use of beneficial foods represents a compelling route to outcome for the benefit of the patient. By the same token the use of foods that promote the opposite effect indicate that the slow progressive morbidisation of the western world and all that choose to eat in the same manner is an almost unstoppable force.

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Who Has More Genes – Us or a Grape?

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 by | Comments: 1

The human genome project promised us much, a future return on investment that promised the resolution of disease and the careful planning of future generations. The enormous financial and scientific endeavour started out with powerful suggestions about the human having millions, then hundreds of thousands of genes. The thought by many that we as a species would not be the greatest source of genes in the living planet, was a thought to incompatible with our natural predilection for greatness for any to contemplate. Time marches on and as greater data sets are collected we are faced with the somewhat challenging news that chickens, are hard on our heels and that some plants are way ahead of us!

Although the near-finished human genome sequence now covers 99% of the euchromatic (or gene-containing) genome at 99.999% accuracy, the exact number of human genes is still unknown.

The reality has been a little more sobering and remarkably the figure continues to receive clarifications, in part due to the increasing sophistication of analysis techniques and in part due to different standards set by different gene repositories and the discovery that different humans actually also have different gene sets.[1]

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Most basic research relies on the use of mice as the sacrificial animal. Many of these mouse are carefully engineered to have special gene abnormalities, or to be a consistent animal in order that different laboratories can limit variability by using the same strain/species. Without doubt millions of mice have been sacrificed in the name of science, and whilst there will be considerable polarisation on the validity of their use, they have contributed an enormous amount of information to human health.

But man is not a mouse, and indeed a mouse may be adversely affected by the choice of mouse chow given to it. A remarkably elegant study by Courtney Kozyul PhD demonstrated how by changing the diet of lab mice, significantly divergent results could be collected. A few years prior, there was an understanding from labs that the local environment would impact on outcomes, now the mice chow is the next item on their radar.

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