Epigenetics: New Science Reveals How You Can Change Your DNA
Many factors are known to contribute to human lifespan. Many natural health followers carefully control their diet to include organic choices of fruits and vegetables in their natural, uncooked state, while remaining physically active and maintaining body weight within a healthy range.
The science of how lifestyle habits and nutrition promote health and longevity, known as epigenetics, has dramatically advanced our knowledge base by providing a solid understanding of telomeres, the tiny strands of DNA akin to a zipper that shorten with poor dietary choices, inflammation and everyday stress.
Researchers reporting in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry show that reducing oxidative stress, cellular inflammation and improving DNA methylation pathways can extend telomere length and slow the biologic aging clock. Specific nutrients provide the necessary building blocks to support DNA health and extend your natural lifespan.
Targeted Nutrients and Foods Increase DNA Methylation to Maintain Telomere Length
Epigenetics states that genetic expression is not set in stone, and our genes are continually under the influence of our environment, lifestyle and dietary choices. Gene settings are made initially from our time in the womb, based largely on the nutritional status and lifestyle of the mother. As we age, our genes instantly read micronutrient and environmental cues in an effort to ensure short term survival. Every morsel of food energy we consume results in an alteration in gene expression, either promoting optimal health or eventual illness.
The methylation pathway is critical to maintain DNA integrity and prevent telomere shortening. Foods and nutrients that donate methyl groups are essential to prevent genetic mutations that result in cancer. Researchers reporting in the Journal of Nutrition found that men with the highest levels of folate in their blood have the longest telomeres when compared to those with the lowest levels. In addition to folate (800 mcg each day), vitamin B12 (500 to 1000 mcg daily) and the entire B-vitamin family are associated with longer telomeres. Sulfur-enriched proteins from nuts and seeds are also important methyl group donors.
Stress and Systemic Inflammation Shorten Telomeres and Accelerate Aging
Independent research projects have concluded that the minerals zinc (25 to 50 mg per day) and magnesium (400 to 800 mg each day) are necessary to accurately complete DNA sequencing during cell replication. A lack of these cofactors leads to DNA strand breakage, premature cell destruction and acceleration of the aging process. Vitamin C (1 to 3 grams per day) has been shown to slow the loss of telomeres in human vascular endothelial cells, an important element in preventing cardiovascular disease. Vitamin E tocotrienols (400 mg per day of a full-spectrum supplement) have been shown to restore the length of telomeres while reducing DNA damage, making it possible for a nutrient to reverse the shortening of telomeres and reverse an underlying cause of aging.
Stress and inflammation are two controllable factors that independently shorten telomere length and increase cell aging. Stress management is essential to lower the release of chemical messengers that fuel the flames of inflammation. Additionally, researchers have identified a host of polyphenol compounds (resveratrol, grape seed extract and curcumin) that lower systemic inflammation, help to maintain telomere length and extend healthy lifespan.
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John Phillip is a diet, health and nutrition researcher and writer with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives.
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