Healthy Sides to Serve at your Holiday Feast

Did you know that your family’s holiday’s feast traditions could very well have impacted your health and potentially the health of future generations?  

It’s true.  Factors like what your mother eats or the traditional food your family eats can play a role in the cellular make up of your genes, also known as epigenetics. Just to give you a brief anatomy lesson, Epigenetics is defined as functionally relevant changes to the genome (gene) that do not involve the DNA sequence. The genome is the complete set of genetic material in the body’s cells—that includes the DNA and all the genes. DNA (or deoxyribonucleic acid) is the “code” within each cell that instructs the body how to grow, develop, function, and reproduce. And genes essentially determine hereditary traits—they transfer physical and functional characteristics from parents to children.

Epigenetic traits can impact multiple generations – there are a number of studies that have been done to confirm this.  They can be a contributing factor to conditions like TMD and sleep disorders. The good news is epigenetic traits are reversible and can respond to environmental changes or treatments.

Since most patients’ health issues are directly related to their diets, and it’s the season for feasting, consider evaluating some of the “traditional” foods your family eats. Those foods could be impacting you currently as well as future generations; undo the damage and start introducing alternative dishes that can be enjoyed this holiday season.

The reliance of including certain foods and recipes will likely be hard to eliminate; however, including some new healthy additions can become just as much a part of your traditions as those that have been enjoyed for generations.  Consider the following tips for creating healthy, delicious sides that will help undo existing DNA damage and create a healthier existence now and into the future:

  •    Consider the inclusion of foods rich in folate (vitamin B9) like, citrus fruits, strawberries, and leafy green vegetables.
  •    Include foods that are rich in vitamin B6.  Your turkey and other poultry will accomplish this, as well as the inclusion of fish.  Introduce bean dishes, dark leafy greens like kale or collards greens for a delicious vegetable side.
  •    Leverage the taste and benefits of nuts like walnuts, almonds and flax seed.
  •    Instead of relying on all starchy sides like potatoes, carrots, peas, and corn, be sure to include vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, spinach, and brussels sprouts.
  •    Try cutting out excess sugar sources to season foods.

Holiday dinners can be just as delicious as they have been while combating generations of damaging habits.  Take control of your health and get creative with new traditions!