I became very interested in the role of epigenetics after listening to a podcast about the emerging field. I found it to be a fascinating expansion of the mechanics of natural selection, albeit one I am not intimately familiar with.
The methylation of DNA to control gene expression has been well established and understood for years but the transmission of methylated DNA was not something researchers had considered. Anyone interested might want to check out the following study just published in Nature: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101020/full/news.2010.553.html
I have not seen the entire study and it was done using Mice and a "high fat" diet but none the less I suspect there is an indication here that an obese parent could be setting up their progeny for metabolic derangement. In fact a good deal of the people reading this are likely the RESULT of this effect.
Nice post! I actually am a graduate student studying epigenetic phenomena, and specifically how metabolism affects epigenetic regulation of gene expression, so it's nice to see this community pick up on some of those topics.
I will say that it's actually been demonstrated previously that the parental involvement in the transmission of epigenetic phenomena is a significant process, and could point you towards a base of other interesting literature if you're interested in learning more. Along similar lines to what you're talking about, Randy Jirtle's laboratory established that you can basically titrate the coat color of mouse pups based upon how much folic acid you give the mothers during pregnancy, in a way that correlated strongly with the degree of DNA methylation at the agouti (yellow) locus in the mouse genome. Epigenetic phenomena are also largely the reason that we want pregnant mothers to take folate supplements, because folate is critical for one-carbon metabolism that leads to methyltransferase reactions such as those that result in DNA methylation. What makes the study that you present interesting is that it doesn't necessarily involve maternal nutrition status during pregnancy, which is where most of the findings have been made to date.
I think that as more research becomes available, the more we'll be forced to accept that you aren't really what you eat--it's more like you are what your parents and grandparents ate. So there's another reason to be healthy: do it for the kids you might want to have someday!
And can you fix the problem by de-methylating (presumably in conjunction with a proper diet)? Green tea, soy, turmeric, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, butter, kombucha, CLA, melatonin, and resveratrol are all reasonably likely to cause some degree of de-meythlation (edit: or histone modification) (without resorting to the harder stuff)...
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