The human diet has undergone profound changes over recent generations and this trend is likely to accelerate in the 21st century. Innovations in food technology, new ways of producing and processing foods and the increasing use of artificial vitamins and novel ingredients are changing the human diet in ways that our dietary monitoring systems struggle to keep pace with. There is a growing awareness of the importance of diet, but little understanding of how these changes may affect the health of current and future generations. Epigenetic programming, and specifically the persistence of functional epigenetic states following nutritional exposure, is particularly relevant to the issue of dietary change. Epigenetics is emerging as perhaps the most important mechanism through which diet and nutrition can directly influence the genome and there is now considerable evidence for nutritional epigenetic programming of health and the response to diet itself. A number of nutrients and food components that are changing in the human diet have been shown to produce epigenetic states that are stable across different timescales. We need to better understand the nutritional programming of epigenetic states, the persistence of these marks in time and their effect on biological function and the response to diet.
- novel foods