Your DNA is the map for the genetic code that makes you who you are. As we age, the human genetic sequence mutates, producing an interesting biological anomaly, which has presented itself and recently been discovered by leading researchers in the field. To keep it simple, let’s call it the “kill-me” gene.
It is the reason that a human specimen can be perfectly healthy through early youth, adolescence, young adulthood and maturity, then hit a point where everything falls apart; men experience andropause, women go through menopause, diseases (like diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer) begin to develop more rapidly, and it becomes more difficult to maintain optimal weight and energy levels.
In essence, we have a code built into our genetic sequence designed to off-set generational overlap, which seems to be triggered primarily by the mutation of our DNA, and accelerated cellular aging. Rather than rising to meet the challenge, our bodies and cells seem to do the opposite – the overall metabolic rate slows, your body becomes less adept at regulating the immune system, controlling disorderly cell growth (and eliminating stagnant “zombie cells” – see our other recent post on those), and less able to pull critical nutrients from your food in order to keep you healthy at the cellular level.
There are various theories to explain why our bodies behave this way. One hypothesis is that this process is hard-wired into our genetic construct – Mother Nature’s way of preserving resources for younger and biologically viable (e.g. able to produce offspring) specimens.
I tend to lean toward another theory…one that we have a measure of control over. I’m a subscriber to the theory that we’re over-fed, and under nourished. As a population, humans appear to be living longer than they have in the last 500 years or so. We’re also fatter, sicker, more inflamed and more medicated. Blaming your biology is easy – it takes the responsibility off of you. But taking steps to try and stay in front of it…that takes some work, and some thought.
It stands to reason that if a genetic response can be triggered that puts all of these other maladies into motion, then we should be looking at two things:
- How do we prevent it (or at least slow it down)?
- How do we reverse it once it’s started (or at least mitigate its damage once the ball is rolling)?
When we’re talking about DNA mutation, one of the root issues is typically front and center – the exhaustion of chromosomal telomeres. Telomeres are found at the ends of each of your chromosomes. Each time your DNA replicates, the telomeres are damaged a little bit more. The faster these degenerate, the faster the specimen will age and develop disease and disorderly cellular reproduction.
If you’ve been following our posts, you’ve been reading a lot about enzymes, polyphenols, antioxidants and free radicals. Free radicals are essentially free electrons that “attach” themselves to particles contained within your cells, and begin a destructive oxidation process. Thus, anti-oxidants are useful for “hi-jacking” these free electrons, thus sparing unnecessary cellular damage.
So we’ve got the free radicals neutralized—what next? Keeping yourself healthy always comes down to the cellular level; if your cells aren’t well nourished, you aren’t well nourished. The Omega-3 index is a measure of EPA and DHA in your cellular membranes. This number should be between 8-12%, and to get there and stay there, that means most of us need to be taking in at least 2.5 grams of EPA and DHA every day. A recent JAMA study suggests individuals with a higher Omega-3 Index have a 65% slower cellular aging process. [Farzaneh-Far et al. JAMA 2010:303(3): 250-257]
A young gut supports a young immune system. A young immune system, in turn, supports a young body. The more effective your immune system is at eliminating waste, and disposing of “disorderly” cells (such as cancerous or zombie cells), the slower the cellular aging process. The health and balance of the flora (bacteria) in your gut is a huge factor in overall gut health. A good probiotic can help you to maintain an optimal gut balance, supporting immune and digestive health.
Whether you’re talking about getting in front of the aging process, or giving your body what it needs to offset the process once it starts, healthy nutrition is step #1. Take care of your body now, so it will keep taking care of you later.
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