DNA is a powerful and very active molecule. We have two strands of it in almost every cell of our body. Every time a cell divides, so does the DNA in the nucleus, so that each daughter cell has its very own copy of DNA. This is called replication. It is very common though, for errors to occur during replication. Also, DNA can be locally damaged by various chemical agents like toxins, cellular poisons and free radicals. All these situations cause modest or major alterations in the sequence of DNA resulting in mutations. When too many mutations pile up in a cell, it is inevitable that this cell will undergo a series of changes, transforming it to a cancerous cell most likely. This is indeed a very common way that cancer occurs. Of course, not all mutations will result in disease, but it becomes more likely when mutations happen in a fast rate and are not fixed.
Mutations are a natural phenomenon and this is why the cells are fully capable of handling such molecular issues. They possess powerful repair mechanisms which consist of specialized enzymes that can track down, evaluate and fix the damages quickly. Our body has truly magnificent ways of healing itself. As long as these mechanisms are functional and active we are protected. The problems begin when two conditions are present: first, our environment and diet are overloaded with toxins and agents that can easily cause mutations and second we do not provide our bodies the raw materials to make sufficient quantities of the enzymes responsible for the DNA repair and overall protection.
Therefore, we have two problems with two solutions. First, it is imperative to eat organic and “clean” food. Although it sounds way too basic, it can make an impressive difference to the chemical load our bodies have to handle. Second, eat nutrient rich foods that will ensure the full functionality of your enzymes. Major players in this molecular repair game are the B vitamins, especially B6, B12, B3 and B9 (or folate). This set of vitamins is of utmost importance for the enzymes responsible for the repair of mutations. Another important nutritional addition would be the introduction of antioxidants, substances that can neutralize free radicals, which are very dangerous little molecules causing instant damage to DNA. The more antioxidants we incorporate in your diet the best your chances are that you avoid DNA mutations in the first place. Your best antioxidant shots are glutathione (made of proteins, so eat plenty), Vitamins A, E, C, Carotenoids and Flavonoids. You can find most of these in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, fish and organic meat, eggs and dairy. It is very important to follow a diet rich in nutrients because they build a bullet proof defense system against most threats on a cellular and molecular level. Keeping your DNA safe will only ensure proper cellular and body functions. If you are on a weight loss regime, it is of prime importance to incorporate as many natural antioxidants and vitamins you can in your diet.
Helen Davies is an accomplished Medical Researcher with a Master Degree in Human Molecular Genetics from Imperial College London. As the founder of Primal Health Company she has done extensive research Nutritional Genomics and Alternative Weight Loss methods.