We’re used to reading that we need to take care of our diet. More and more studies are showing a link between the type of foods we eat and our long term health. But few suspect that our dietary intake could also affect our gene expression.
It used to be thought that once egg met sperm, genetic expression was set and immutable. That how we grew, what we looked like, our susceptibility to certain diseases and so on, were dependent only on what DNA we happened to have. Now we know that how genes are expressed can be influenced by environmental conditions, even going back as far as two generations before conception.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that a recent study has found that the behaviour and longevity of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans was affected by eating E. coli bacteria. Scientists from universities and medical research institutes in China and Taiwan identified as the culprits two noncoding RNAs: OxyS and DsrA.
It’s still too early to predict what this might mean in terms of human health, but let’s hope that this puts chocolate cake back on the list of daily requirements.