Epigenetics is derived from a Greek word meaning Over & Above the Genome
It is known that aging is characterized by a decline in the function of body systems, tissues, and organs. There is evidence that shows the association between epigenetic changes and aging decline. The reason researchers are investigating epigenetics is that it can be reversed and that there are ways in the pathways to prevent age related decline and disease.
What is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is a field of science that is evolving to study the changes caused by activating and deactivating genes. Epigenetic changes can actually be reversed without modifying the DNA structure and do not affect the sequence of DNA strands.
Epigenetics helps to explain why aging is different for 2 genetically identical people or animals. For example, identical twins age differently although they have the same genetic makeup. Another example is queen bees and worker bees.
What is the human genome?
The human genome is a complete group of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in humans with all of its base pairs. The chromosomes in the genome hold the genetic information.
The epigenome is a collection of chemical components that dictate to the genome as to what it is to do. The epigenome is important because it is in control of the DNA functions. Changes made by epigenome can be impulsive or determined by effects from external or internal influences.
What can one do to improve their epigenetic pathway to live longer?
It has been stated that some of the most effective regimens to increase life span is partially through the epigenetic pathways (Pal S, Tyler JK, 2016).
It has been shown that the diet can actually cause variable changes of stored epigenetic information. In queen bees it has been shown that dietary changes can cause a unique difference in physical appearance, changes in reproduction and their life span even though they have identical DNA (Kucharski R et al, 2008).
One of the best ways to extend life span is by calorie restriction, which has been shown to have amazing effects on various organisms (Pal S, Tyler JK, 2016).
There is science in different species that shows that a diet high in simple sugar shortens the lifespan of particular compounds (Sen P et al, 2016).
Laboratory research shows that available nutrients are essential to determine lifespan (Bordone L Guarente L, 2005). The nutrients are described as amino acids, carbohydrates, growth factors and metabolites. They are detected by various proteins, which also includes glucose sensors.
These nutrients relay signals to the cell’s nucleus to make epigenetic changes to lifespan. The other mission of the nutrients is to modify the epigenome to effect lifespan and health span (time of life a person is in good health). Other factors of influence are exercise, hormones, circadian cycles (Sen P et al, 2016).
There have been plant based compounds that have been observed to have favorable effects. Those that are included are anthocyanidins found in blueberries and some other dark pigmented fruit, fisetin, flavones, stilbenes and chalcones (Pal S, Tyler JK, 2016). Resveratrol is considered one of the best nutrients since it has demonstrated to promote physiological and gene expression changes, which are comparable to those effects stimulated by a calorie restricted diet. Resveratrol has shown in animal research to improve health and survival when animals were placed on a high calorie diet (Sen P et al, 2016).
As with any new dietary regimen or consumption of supplements, if you have a health condition and or take medication it is best to check with your health care practitioner prior to starting something new.
In summary, aging is characterized by a decline in the operation of bodily functions. Evidence shows that there is an association between epigenetic changes and aging decline. Dietary measurements and nutrients can make a difference in epigenetic pathways, which has been observed in laboratory and animal research.