Christine Dionese is a wonderful human being. Cofounder of flavor ID, she is an integrative, epigenetic health and food therapy specialist. Christine lives, works and plays bicoastally in California and New York with her family.
We literally stumbled upon her via social media and were lucky enough to start a nurturing conversation and “long distance relationship” with her.
Christine Dionese has dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health by harnessing the power of the epigenetic landscape. Her almost 20 years combined experience includes research, private practice, consulting and writing. She has contributed to The Chalkboard Magazine, The Fullest, Rochester’s Boomtown Table and Nourished Journal. She is also an expert in functional medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, ethnomedicine & epigenetic wellness, food science, food policy and food therapy, clinical nutrition, wellness psychology and the science of spirituality.
Very impressive, right?! But she is so much more than “just” this. And we thought we needed to share her amazing light with you.
We had a chat about Nutrition, flavor ID, Functional Foods and Natural Beauty.
Read the interview below!
PLENTINESS: Tell us a bit about you and your journey into nutrition. How did you decide to create flavor ID and can you describe it?
CHRISTINE DIONESE: I grew up in the garden and kitchen. My Sicilian grandparents came to the States bringing their healthy way of life.
“Nonno” brought home the fruits and vegetables from the market to my grandmother and she prepared all of the meals everyday. As I write smiling, I can see “little Christine” sitting at her table next to the stove watching her cook!
My father’s mother prepared everything her mother taught her. Both of my parents learned to cook from their parents and grandparents and I lucked out being able to learn from all of my grandparents and parents. Three generations of cooking Italian and Mediterranean foods!
In my undergraduate work in psychology I was part of that first movement that suggested food allergies and sensitivities and chemicals in our environment and food influenced our emotional wellness. It was then that I formally became so interested in the science behind nutrition. Since then, food science research has been at the heart of my research and private practice.
over the years I always prescribed food therapies, but my patients would say: you should really start cooking these foods for people.
In my private practice over the years I’ve always prescribed food therapies, but my patients would say, “you should really start cooking these foods for people”. Fast forward to today and I can say that flavor ID has always been in my blood and now is the right time to offer it because people are really ready to heal through vibrant, traditional foods paralleled with genetic and functional food science insight. It’s no secret the marriage of food and science is in my heart. To feed people in a way that can confer wellness is absolutely the most sublime of experiences for me.
PLENTINESS: Can you tell us how you combine nutrition with genetics to provide custom made nutrition plans and tips?
CHRISTINE DIONESE: We’re still learning so much about genetics. Before looking at genetic reports I consider a person’s history- their heritage, how they were raised, if they were raised around food and what types of food did they and do they still consume a traditional or modern diet.
Next I consider the more biomedical nature that is revealed through genetic reports. I look at how fat, carbohydrate and protein metabolism is potentially being influenced through genetic traits and polymorphisms (how a gene is mutated over time). If any digestive, autoimmune or cardiometabolic concerns exist in the data and then I pull out details related to methylation. Methylation pathways tell us about enzymatic, metabolic processes.
If certain pathyways are potentially altered, we can optimize them by creating personalized meals that parallel. For example, some folks have concerns with metabolizing folate and other B vitamins, some have sulfur-ammonia pathway concerns, and, others, concerns with vitamin D metabolism. There is always some level of guidance that food can confer to optimizing these methylation and therefore genetic pathways.
The possibilites remain endless at this point.
PLENTINESS: Functional foods (from adaptogens to medicinal mushrooms) are on a rise today. How do you integrate them into your recipes and personal life? What about their hype?
CHRISTINE DIONESE: Being in research for about 20 years now I’ve been so thankful to stay both ahead of and beyond trend and hype. Adaptogens and mushrooms have been conferring wisdom to us through nature for centuries and it is only now with the robustness of social media that they’ve gained such popularity. I think what people want to look for are blends created through research and independent-assaying.
Traditional Chinese medicine and Auyrvedic medicine are a couple of the true pioneers in creating functional blends before they were even described as such. Instead of hype and following trend, look to research, look to tradition and whenever possible, work with an integrative professional. This approach will get you where you need to be, when you need to be there, in a more streamlined, personalized way!
I use functional foods everyday in just about everything I make for my family, my clients and myself- whether it’s a latte, a superfood cream, a facial mask, broths…
I’ve been integrating these functional foods into my lifestyle and the lives of my patients and clients since I was about 20– as I was completing my undergraduate degree getting my feet wet in functional medicine, I worked in an amazing health food store called The Natural Approach that a dear friend owned. Today I use functional foods everyday in just about everything I make for my family, my clients and myself- whether it’s a latte, a superfood cream, a facial mask, broths…
CHRISTINE DIONESE: I think there is too much similarity in these sentiments to see them as separate. I would say “food as life” or “food for life” because food IS medicine and food DOES and CAN prevent illness translating into “food for life”.
There is not one part of food that does not influence my life personally. I eat for pleasure which enhances my emotional and mental wellbeing which prevents stress and worry. I eat vibrant superfoods to prevent illness and I take in rich, nutrient-dense foods if I happen to be feeling unwell. So, overall, I think the two sentiments are relative and can be celebrated through every level of our being.
PLENTINESS: Plentiness is all about #BeautyInsideOut. Which are your 3 Nutricion + 3 Cosmetic staples to glow from within?
CHRISTINE DIONESE: Can I say 4?! Organic olive oil, ethical, wild seafood, multi-strain probiotics and organic coffee. Many are so surprised that I mention coffee, but then doubley surprised to hear that personalized genetics research shows us if coffee translates into a health staple for each of us. For me, my genetic traits show coffee as a very helpful food therapy! I use olive oil and coffee topically on my skin as well!
My three cosmetic staples that are already prepared that I always travel with and use daily are simple, yet whole-body powerful: The Balm by Nucifera, Agent Nateur Holi Oil and recently Danni Kenney La Rose Rouge Facial Serum.