Will we age like our mother? - Weddington Wellness Center

Will we age like our mother?

How genetics may not be the only factor for anti-aging.

Can our bodies turn our good genes on and turn our bad genes off? What are the factors of aging? We all know that aging is a progressive decline in physical, mental, and reproductive capacity, and, of course, the increase in morbidity and mortality. The question is, how much do our genes play a role on helping us live long healthy life?

Some studies show that our lifestyle of proper diet, exercise routines and stress coping skills may help keep our genetic chronic diseases away. Research suggests that switching on beneficial genes, including tumor-fighters, can silence the genes that that trigger malignancies and other degenerative processes.

Adopting positive lifestyle behaviors is a growing trend and our attitudes can change genetic expression is now on the top list for genetic research.This concept of epigenetics may not be your conventional family doctor’s opinion, but multiple research studies differs.

The founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, and clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco (U.C.S.F.), Dean Ornish, said, “We found that simple changes have a powerful impact on gene expression. People say, ‘Oh, it’s all in my genes, what can I do?’ That is what I call genetic nihilism. This may be an antidote to that. Genes may be our predisposition, but they are not our fate.” Ornish, and U.C.S.F. colleagues, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA Journal, thatmen with low risk prostate cancer, 500 genes changed expression in their healthy tissues after they began exercising and eating healthier.

The program had them begin eating a diet heavy in veggies, fruit, whole grains, reduced red meat and bad fats (supplemented with fish oil, the mineral selenium and vitamins C and E). The men exercised by walking or working out at least 30 minutes six days a week; daily did stress-reducing yoga-type stretching, breathing and meditation and participated in one-hour weekly group support sessions.

Ornish, who developed his reputation as a health advocate, has done extensive research on nutritional and lifestyle changes. He feels it can all be a part of preventing and even reversing chronic diseases. He even felt that the most surprising part of this study was how fast the benefits appeared.

His study found that in just three months these changes made a notable difference.  This quick turnaround may change many minds. He said, “People say, ‘Why bother?’. It is not so much about risk-factor reduction or preventing something bad from happening. These changes can occur so quickly you don’t have to wait years to see the benefits.”

A 2007 review by Dr. Steven Schroder, professor at University-San Francisco, states the largest influence on risking death is recognized to be from lifestyle habits such as obesity, smoking and stress. He even says that even with high tech interventions only 10 % can be saved. Forty percent reductions of deaths can be reduced if healthier habits are implemented.

Nature Metabolism journal, found that the study worms can relate to humans. The C. elegans worm has revealed longevity hope from their genes and molecular pathways. The studies of how certain medications, hormones, dietary fasting, and ketogenic diets affected these species. He felt it is of popular interest, but argued, it is not the only path to study. The article stated that the true search for the fountain of youth is to research centenarians.

The lives of centenarians rarely suffer from common age-related diseases. Decoding this genetic blueprint is a study of nature. The authors comment, “Long-lived individuals, through their very existence, have established the physiological feasibility of living beyond the ninth decade in relatively good health and ending life without a period of protracted illness.” Studying this rare population can provide great insight of healthy aging and ideas on new therapies to extend our lifespan.

California Life Company, a billion-dollar longevity lab known as Calico, analyzes the biology of aging to someday triumph anti-aging. This research venture is a highly secretive company, that has released minimal details about what it experiments inside its Silicon Valley lab, but there are some clues exposed. The company hired a UC San Francisco researcher who is a renowned geneticist, Cynthia Kenyon. 

Kenyon then enlisted UCSF bioinformatics postdoc, Graham Ruby. He didn’t want to study worms but wanted to know how big a role genetics play in influencing how long someone lives? This question has been a conflicting question, so he was not alone. The Calico company went to the largest history database genetics and genealogy firm, Ancestry.

In 2015, the companies researched the human heredity of lifespan. What he found by analyzing the family trees of more than 400 million people who derived in Europe and America going back to 1800.  The journal Genetics, made public, that this study found that although longevity does run in families and your DNA has less influence on how long you live than it was ever thought to be. Variations of genes of true heritability. Our inherited genes about 20-30% determining our longevity. Their biggest findings are we are more inclined to find mates with similar lifespans. People choose partners with more true heritability similarities (health, looks and income) that affect their long healthier lives. Across generations, they found a repetition that validated these studies.

In my opinion, the question arises, with growing change of diversity of whom we mate with, it is not always “like attracts like”. The Kenyon study may not be today’s beliefs of the laws of attraction.  The lifestyle factor absolutely influences longevity and daily habits of eating well and exercise routines mold the family structure passed on from one generation to the next.

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