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Are antioxidants more important for people carrying certain genes?

The World Health Organization recommends a daily intake of at least 400 grams (or five daily servings with an average serving size of 80 gms) of fruits and vegetables, excluding potatoes, cassava and other starchy tubers, to prevent diet related chronic diseases and micronutrient deficiencies. But according to the India’s Phytonutrient Report (2016) notes that Indians consume quite less than the norms. It is ironical that India is one of the largest producers and net importers of fruits & vegetables, but account  only for 9% of the daily total calorie intake.

Production high, but Indians eating less fruits and vegetables says the report
The survey found that consumption of fruit and vegetables is highest in Chennai (4.35 servings per day) and lowest in Kolkata (2.81 servings per day), which could be attributed to greater number of vegetarians and relatively higher income according to the report.  Lifestyle factors such as long working hours and junk food consumption and other factors like high costs, lack of availability of the produce throughout the year were some of the reasons attributed to low consumption.

Fruits and vegetables as source of antioxidants:

Fruits and vegetables are a great source of antioxidants. These antioxidants neutralise “ free radicals”, that are small, cell- damaging molecules produced by the body as waste products and thus prevent premature aging, tissue damage and the onset of chronic diseases.

Genetics and oxidative stress

Image credits: airnergy.com

Image credits: airnergy.com

Genetics, diet and exercise all have an effect on the overall level of oxidation occurring in your body. As it is becoming more and more evident that oxidative stress is one of the major contributing factors for the rise in chronic diseases it becomes essential for those individuals who are more inclined to high levels of oxidative stress to become aware of the inherent risks.

The SOD2 gene plays an important role in the body’s antioxidative stress system. Individuals with certain genotypes are associated with increased risk for cardiomyopathy, premature aging and cancer , when levels of antioxidants in the body are low. The CAT gene produces catalase enzyme, responsible for protection against free radical damage. Individuals with certain genotypes have decreased catalase activity, lower efficiency to defend themselves against free radical damage. Such individuals may benefit from including antioxidant rich foods- especially dark colored fruits and vegetables to reduce their risk.

In a diet deficient in antioxidants due to low consumption of fruits and vegetables, the balance between oxidative stress and antioxidant molecules is disturbed, increasing the risk of cellular damage and disease. Thus, it is essential to opt for the right diet, exercise and be self-aware of one’s genetic body type, as individuals differ from each other in their nutrient needs and requirements.

 

Want to know about your SOD2 and CAT genes? Try Xcode’s nutrigenetics test which can tell you what versions of the genes are in your DNA. You can also learn about how your genes may influence other traits, including your risk for certain diseases. Write to us at info@xcode.in.

Janani Thiru
Janani Thiru
Janani is a Nutrigenetic Counselor at Xcode, Freelance Writer, Food Scientist and Nutritionist by academics. She received the prestigious Erasmus Mundus Award by the European Commission for her post graduate program in Food Science and Technology in 2010. She worked with Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in Rome and Cambodia previously. Her latest project is an e-book of nutrigenetics she is compiling that will be published next year.