We’ve all heard that the things we do on a regular basis can have a significant impact on our health and well-being such as a good diet, walking, and exercising. Surprisingly, new and continuing studies show that altering your behavior and environment can have an effect on your DNA and eigenome. Then why aren’t we taking the guidance that has been backed by decades of study? Do we still have to blame it on genes?
The human body is a spatiotemporal harmony of gene expression and the epigenome that regulates it. There are approximately 20,500 genes in a common DNA sequence shared by all human cells. However, these genes are not activated in each and every type of cell in your body.
In addition, DNA can be toggled on and off at various stages of development.
Recent studies have shown that external factors can regulate gene expression. Specialists have found that early life events can control which genes are expressed or not.
Harvard professor, best-selling author, and leader of the longevity movement David Sinclair said, “DNA is no longer your destiny.” “Our genes determine 20% of our future health, but the remaining 80% is under our control.”
Thus, previous suggestions that genes are unchangeable or solely responsible for growth have been debunked. No longer is nature versus nurture a point of contention; rather, both play a role.
As a result, epigenomics has emerged as an essential tool in the pursuit of medical progress. Let’s go Deep!
Lifestyle Intervention Changing Epigenome In the body.
Hundreds of study groups have investigated how the epigenome alters in reaction to outside influences.
This article examines recent research that provides credence to the idea that epigenomes are flexible and susceptible to change due to environmental and lifestyle factors.
We can pretty much all agree that exercising, whether by running, walking, or riding a bike, is good for our health and can lower the chance of developing diseases. Even the recent data support this conclusion. However, how does this occur? What happens in our bodies during exercise to make us healthier?
Numerous studies have demonstrated that exercise modifies the epigenetic profile. And that these changes are associated with heightened health and fitness. Researchers from the Karolinska Institute had 23 men and women exercise just one limb for 45 minutes, four times per week. The opposite leg was not exercised. The hypothesis was that epigenetic changes brought on by nutrition and other habits would affect both legs, while exercise would only affect one.
Three months of training produced notable improvements in strength compared to the untrained limb. Even more, than 5,000 genome loci involved in metabolism, insulin response, and inflammation were found to differ epigenetically between legs, as determined by analysis of muscle biopsies.
What exercises are more preferred then? It has been shown that strength training (weightlifting) increases fat-free mass and insulin sensitivity, whereas high-intensity interval training (HIIT) improves cellular metabolism.
If that seems too strenuous, know that research shows significant health benefits from even moderate exercise. A 30-minute moderately intense stationary bike ride, for instance, can induce an epigenetic change that boosts the body’s supply of immune cells that specialize in combating cancer.
There is substantial proof that exercise affects your epigenome. Now you can rest assured that you will not only appear and feel better but that the very code of your DNA will function more efficiently.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week at a moderate intensity. If not possible then go for moderate-intensity cycling for 30 minutes a day.
Like exercise, diet is increasingly being recognized as a potential source of epigenetic communication and improvement in humans. Diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease can be prevented by making dietary changes. And understanding the diet-epigenome signaling could help us do just that.
Diet-epigenome study on Dutch Hunger Winter veterans is famous. 20,000 people died in a 1944 Dutch hunger caused by Nazi food blockades. The research revealed that the mothers’ severe malnutrition altered the DNA of their expectant children, thereby increasing their risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mental illness.
Parental nutrition has been found to affect epigenome at any age. Such as an animal study revealed that male rats fed a low-protein diet had higher cholesterol and fat gene expression.
So what diet is preferred then?
The Mediterranean diet is considered to be the best one in this case. As it is believed to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk, blood pressure, and inflammation.
The research was done comparing the epigenome of 36 individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease before and after they adopted and followed a Mediterranean diet for 5 years. DNA methylation was significantly altered in 8 inflammatory and immune response-related genes hence proving the claimed status.
Researchers from the Integrative Cardiac Health Program looked at 63 patients who had the cardiac disease and had recently started a very low-fat diet. While those in the control group saw no improvement in their health, people with a low-fat diet lost weight and experienced a 10% reduction in their blood pressure. After 12 weeks, the expression of 26 genes was changed, and after a year, the expression of 143 genes was altered.
It is suggested by research to have more,
- Foods high in nutrients and antioxidants: Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are prevalent in the Mediterranean diet. These foods are essential for maintaining healthy epigenetic regulation. Folate and other B vitamins, Vitamin C, vitamin E, and flavonoids for instance, are crucial for DNA methylation, and you can find them in foods like leafy greens, beans, and whole grains.
- The Mediterranean diet is rich in omega-3 fatty acid sources like fish, nuts, and seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have a beneficial effect on DNA methylation and can help reduce inflammation, both of which can cause damage to the epigenome.
- Less consumption of red meat and processed foods. It is restricted to the Mediterranean diet because of its links to disease and accelerated aging. Instead, the diet emphasizes plant-based foods and lean sources of protein, such as fish and poultry.
The stress-relieving efficacy of yoga and meditation is well-known. Even the new findings from epigenetics suggest that these strategies for dealing with stress could actually change your DNA’s composition.
A study found that 45 caregivers practiced mindfulness meditation or listened to soothing music for 12 minutes per day for eight weeks span, with 68 genes showing differential expression in the meditation group. This suggests that even a brief meditation session may be able to mitigate the harmful effects of chronic stress.
The effects of yoga on the mental and physical health of women who have persistent stress were the subject of another research.
This study measured the interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and C-reactive protein (CRP) protein levels of 28 women before and after an 8-week yoga intervention in comparison to a control group of 116 individuals, as well as the DNA methylation of these genes and the global indicator, LINE-1. While the methylation of the TNF gene was found to be lower in the yoga group, no other genes showed statistically significant changes. Despite only 8 weeks of intervention, the results are compelling.
Reducing Environmental Toxins.
Epigenetic alterations have been connected to environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke, pollution, and specific substances. Supporting genomic health may be as simple as avoiding these pollutants.
Everyone is aware of all the bad impacts on health smoking can have even accumulated evidence suggests that tobacco use can modify the epigenome in a bad way. Furthermore, the epigenetic clock identifies it as the most significant risk factor for premature cellular aging.
According to the study, those who gave up smoking showed improvements in their epigenome. They used 464 individuals (22 current smokers and 263 ex-smokers) in their epigenome-wide association research. They discovered that smoking significantly altered 15 different genomic areas. Fascinatingly, they also discovered that just three months after the smoker gave up the habit, all of those epigenetic areas had returned to their normal epigenetic state.
Limit the Alcohol Use.
Early research demonstrated that children of alcoholics frequently have a diminished sensitivity to alcohol, which is a risk factor for the development of an alcohol use disorder. Some human studies have also shown that children of alcoholic fathers are more prone to develop mental disorders, behavioral changes, and ADHD.
There is also some positive news to report. As evidence suggests that abstinence can rectify many of the epigenetic changes caused by chronic abuse of alcohol. If you are considering having children, you may wish to include this in your pregnancy plan.
Supplementation For Epigenetic Improvement.
Supplementation with some nutrients can also improve the epigenome such as,
A study found that those who gave up smoking showed epigenetic improvements. Researchers conducted a study on 464 subjects (22 current smokers and 263 ex-smokers) and validated their findings in a sample of 356 individuals. They discovered 15 distinct epigenetic regions that were substantially different between smokers and nonsmokers. And that all of these regions returned to their normal epigenetic state within three months of discontinuing smoking. Hence proving that within 3 months of smoking, the epigenetic improvement
1. Calcium alpha-ketoglutarate (Ca-AKG)
Calcium alpha ketoglutarate (Ca-AKG) is a compound that has been studied for its potential role in epigenetic changes.
Research suggests that Ca-AKG may be involved in epigenetic changes by serving as a substrate for enzymes that modify chromatin, the material that makes up chromosomes. These modifications can affect the DNA’s accessibility to the transcriptional machinery.
In particular, Ca-AKG has been shown to stimulate the activity of enzymes known as histone demethylases, which remove methyl groups from histone proteins.
Histones, the proteins that wrap DNA, play a critical role in controlling gene expression by determining how accessible DNA is to transcription factors. By increasing histone demethylase activity, Ca-AKG may help to increase the expression of certain genes.
While preliminary evidence suggests that certain supplements may facilitate epigenetic changes, more study is required in order to fully understand the possible advantages. What other benefits does Ca-AKG offer to human health? Read our article here to get all the information and proper dosage details.
Polyphenol resveratrol is found in grapes, cherries, and other plants. It has been investigated for its ability to modulate epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation and histone modification.
For instance, resveratrol has been shown to improve the efficiency of sirtuins, an enzyme family critical for proper gene expression, DNA repair, and metabolic function. Resveratrol’s ability to enhance epigenetic regulation and provide protection from age-related diseases like cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders is promising.
Some research indicates that NMN may improve epigenetic regulation. Supplementation with NMN in mice, for instance, increased levels of the protein SIRT1 a gene expression regulator tied to several aging-related diseases.
Human NMN supplementation increases NAD+ in a 2020 study, which is involved in cellular metabolism and epigenetic regulation.
NMN has also been shown to increase the activity of the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs) enzyme family, which is involved in DNA repair and genome stability. This can aid in the prevention of errors and mutations that can result in epigenetic alterations.
Studies like these raise hopes that NMN could be useful as a tool for enhancing epigenetic regulation, but more study is required to confirm these hopes.
4. Co Enzyme Q10.
This antioxidant protects against DNA damage by making DNA more resistant and reducing the number of breaks in DNA strands.
Studies show that taking CoQ10 supplements helps lymphocytes recover from DNA damage. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are important for a healthy immune system. CoQ10 can also protect against DNA damage, which plays a role in the onset of cardiovascular disease. If you don’t eat a lot of organic meats, beef, chicken, or oily fish, then taking a CoQ10 supplement may be your best bet for getting the protective benefits of this nutrient.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation has been linked in some research to epigenetic effects, especially in the context of aging and age-related diseases. One study showed that CoQ10 supplementation improved memory and learning in aged mice by changing their DNA methylation patterns. Learn more beneficial effects of this compound here in this article.
The field of epigenetics has shifted traditional assumptions about the influence of environmental factors on health. Although we can’t alter the DNA, we can manage epigenetics can be manipulated to heal or restore is exciting to think about, but for now, the same recommendations for healthy aging hold true: eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, moderate unhealthy habits, and maintain social connections.