Nutrigenomics or Nutritional Genomics is the science of foods and how they affect our genes, prevent disease, improve health and longevity.  Foods have power to influence our genes in a positive or negative way depending on what foods we eat. We each have unique physiology and chemistry that is determined by genes. But foods and our  environment  control whether we  turn on or turn off inherited genes.

People in certain parts of the world are living longer and better, not necessarily because of their genes but because the foods they eat and the way they live “turn on” their healthy genes.

Knowing your genetic code can influence the way you eat, how you digest your foods, what  exercise is most beneficial, your mental health, how to best manage your weight, how you recover from exercise, what nutrients you need more of, slow down the aging process and improve health status throughout life.

The role of personalized or functional nutritional medicine is to understand your genes, how your DNA works with foods and lifestyle to create a lifetime blueprint for wellness.

The properties in foods that influence the way our genes behave are called “bioactives”.  They are biochemical switches that turn on functions to keep the body in balance like feeding good bacteria in the gut, regulating blood sugar, enabling detoxification, and fueling energy.  Bioactives also calm or put out the flame of inflammation caused by stress, nutrient empty processed foods, sugar, and excess alcohol that “turn on” “bad genes”.

Many bioactives are found in spices, herbs, fermented foods, oils, and abundant in produce that is high in fiber.  Fiber feeds bacteria in the gut and the gut is where most of our DNA resides.  Keeping the gut happy with bioactives, keeps good genes healthy.


Bioactivate Your Eating Style 

  • Buy ORGANIC when humanly possible and try to avoid plastic boxed foods. Baby steps. Wash and dry thoroughly!
  • Rev up the gene boosting bioactives in salads by using darker greens. Start with baby spinach then add in other varieties such as arugula, cilantro, kale, basil leaf, bok choy or cabbage.
  • Experiment by adding in other bioactive flavors to meals by adding slightly cooked stir fry or roasted vegetable to raw salads, or add other tasty nuggets like berries, chopped apple, nuts, black beans or parsley etc. Add in a spoon of gut happy fermented food like sauerkraut, picked mushrooms, peppers or relish.
  • Increase the potency and release gene influencing bioactive Some foods do not come with the active form so prepare to activate!.
    • Chop cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy or cabbage and let them sit 30 minutes before tossing them in a salad, lightly stir frying or cooking. You want them to still be a bit crunchy.  This will increase the active ingredient sulforaphane to super detoxify.
    • Cook tomatoes to release more of the bioactive compound Lycopene. Easy to do with pasta sauces, stews, fried, roasted or grilled!
    • Add turmeric to dishes that contain healthy oils like salmon, olive or other oils, avocado, nuts, butter, or coconut to activate curcumin. The magical spice. I love hot coconut milk with chopped turmeric root (or powder) and honey.
  • Excite and “turn on good genes” by including at least one bioactive rich food with every meal. Easy to do:
    • Breakfast: blueberries, with almond butter and avocado toast
    • Lunch a chicken wrap with Asian Cole slaw
    • Snack Apple slices with hummus
    • Supper Stir-fry chicken and vegetables with spring rolls
    • Snack a square of dark chocolate, and coconut turmeric milk
  • Combine raw and cooked vegetables in salads, wraps, or bowls with other ingredients such as stir fry, lightly roasted, and raw cruciferous vegetables, dark greens, baked sweet potato, avocado, fermented foods, beans, radish leaf or nuts etc. Toss the flavors of choice and roll them up in an organic tortilla or rice paper wrap.  Sounds crazy but I like a bowl of spaghettii salad..made by making homemade home-made pasta sauce with lightly roasted broccoli, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, red peppers, fresh garlic and onions. That goes over a bed of dark green leafy’s, and topped with  zucchini noodles or artichoke spaghetti noodles. There are no rules.  Put together bioactive foods that make you happy.
  • Add dressings and sauces last. Acidity in many dressings or sauces will destroy bioactives so toss in dressings and sauces last.  Dressings and sauces can be bioactive superstars and add additional kick to add flavor to a meal. Fit them in often!  Grind up fresh herbs, mix with the oil of your choice and add the citrus like lemon, lime or vinegar last.   Ingredients that go together are fresh chopped cilantro and ginger, peanut butter, a little honey, and rice wine vinegar. Blended herbs with pureed berries such as raspberries with a little balsamic vinegar.  Pour it over a salad, bowl or add to a wrap last to ensure the potency of the meal.

Superstar Bioactives

 Add bioactive foods to your favorite meals and you will notice your good genes start to get “turned on”! If starting from zero, simply sprinkle them into the foods you like.  You will be amazed at the results.


Betaine: Sugar beets, wheat bran, rye grain, bulgar grain, spinach, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, turkey breast, beef, veal and some seafood, such as shrimp.  Important for digestion, lowering inflammation, and protecting the heart.

Curcumin: in turmeric. A powerful anti-inflammatory with multiple therapeutic benefits such as killing cancer cells.

Quercetin: Onions, green tea, apples, radish leaves, berries and red wine. Reduces inflammation, the risk of heart disease, cancer, allergy symptoms and neurological conditions.

Resveratrol: Grapes, berries, peanuts and red wine. A powerful antioxidant reduces damage that increases the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Catechins:  Green tea, apples (peel on), apricots, cherries, peaches, blackberries, black grapes, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Catechins reduce the formation of free radicals protecting the cells of the body from dying.

Sulforaphane: Cruciferous vegetables broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage. Activates detoxification of toxins and metabolic waste in the body that can lead to cancer and organ damage

Fermented Food: Plain yogurt, kombucha, pickled vegetables like garlic or okra. Bioactive bacteria that populates the gut is an all purpose gene pleaser. Fermented foods nourish the  microbiome, improve digestion and absorption of nutrients into the body.  Remember the microbiome is a major control center for other organs and the home for most of our DNA.

So Turn On Your Good Genes with Bioactive Food!