Implication of the Mediterranean diet on the human epigenome


Mediterranean Diet


Epigenetics, defined as “hereditary changes in gene expression that occur without any change in the DNA sequence”, consists of various epigenetic marks, including DNA methylation, histone modifications, and non-coding RNAs. The epigenome, which has a dynamic structure in response to intracellular and extracellular stimuli, has a key role in the control of gene activity, since it is located at the intersection of cellular information encoded in the genome and molecular/chemical information of extracellular origin. The focus shift of studies to epigenetic reprogramming has led to the formation and progressive importance of a concept called “nutriepigenetics”, whose aim is to prevent diseases by intervening on nutrition style. Among the diet types adopted in the world, the renowned Mediterranean Diet (MD), being rich in unsaturated fatty acids and containing high levels of whole grain foods and large quantities of fruits, vegetables, and legumes, has shown numerous advantages in excluding chronic diseases. Additionally, the fact that this diet is rich in polyphenols with high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties has an undeniable effect in turning some cellular pathways against the disease. It is also apparent that the effects of polyphenols on the epigenome cause changes in mechanisms such as DNA methylation and histone acetylation/deacetylation, which have a regulatory effect on gene regulation. This review presents the effects of long-term consumption of nutrients from the MD on the epigenome and discusses the benefits of this diet in the treatment and even prevention of chronic diseases.


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