Are Your Genes At Risk of Being Silenced Forever? - Part 2
Dear Longevity Insider,
You open your eyes in the morning.
And you don't know who you are or where you are.
Your mind begins to race, and all you can ask yourself is, "How did I get here?"
So you scan the room trying to put the pieces together of what is and what was...
The panic sets in... Was your memory erased?
Sounds like some scene out of a suspense movie!
To a degree, that's how one might experience Alzheimer's disease.
And the scariest thing about the scenario is that it's linked to your genes.
Imagine your genes switching on and off as they please, wreaking absolute chaos in your life.
Turning off the genes you want and turning on the genes you don't want... permanently.
You'd feel as if you're body were betraying you, right?
This brings us back to DNA methylation. We discussed that in detail on Tuesday. DNA methylation is a biological process that changes the structure of DNA. It can affect how tightly your genes are packaged and how easily they're turned on or off.
Improper methylation has been linked with a variety of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and autism.
You see, the addition of a methyl group can also change the physical shape of the DNA molecule, making it harder for transcription factors to bind to it. (This is needed for normal cell function.)
On the other hand, when genes are unmethylated, they tend to be turned on and gene expression is increased. When genes lack these methyl groups, the proteins they encode are more likely to be produced. This is why methylation can affect things like cancer development, as well as normal cell function.
HOW DOES DNA METHYLATION AFFECT THE BODY
DNA methylation is a necessary part of normal cellular function because it protects against stressors that can damage DNA. Cells are constantly under attack by harmful substances, radiation, toxins, poor diet, etc., so they have to be able to protect themselves. DNA methylation helps to do this by silencing genes that could cause damage.
When the body is healthy, DNA methylation works properly and everything runs smoothly. However, when the body is not healthy, it can lead to problems with methylation. For example, when a person is stressed out or has a poor diet, their cells become stressed and DNA methylation decreases.
PROBLEMS WITH DNA METHYLATION IN THE BODY
What causes improper methylation in the body?
There are a few things that can cause problems with methylation, including:
- Nutritional Deficiencies. A person who is deficient in certain vitamins and minerals (like B6, B12, zinc, and magnesium) may have problems with methylation.
- Environmental Toxins. Toxins from the environment can also interfere with methylation. These toxins include things like pesticides, herbicides, plastics, and heavy metals.
- Inflammation. When the body is under chronic stress or has high levels of inflammation, it can have trouble with methylation. This is because high levels of free radicals can damage DNA and lead to problems with methylation. Methyl groups also help protect cells from free radical damage.
- Age. As we get older, our ability to methylate decreases. This is because as we age, we lose cells that help with methylation, and our DNA becomes more susceptible to damage.
- Genetics. Some people are born with genes that make it harder for them to methylate DNA properly.
DNA METHYLATION & LONGEVITY
While there is much to be discovered on DNA methylation and longevity, there are some early indications that it may be involved in the aging process. One study showed that people with high levels of methylated DNA lived longer than those with low levels of methylated DNA. Another study showed that when cells are unable to methylate DNA, they age more quickly. More research is needed to determine the role of DNA methylation in longevity, but these early findings suggest that it may be important.
DNA methylation is a complex process that plays an important role in normal cellular function. When it's properly methylated, it helps to protect against environmental stressors and inflammation. It also plays an essential role in mitochondrial function, which is important for energy production.
However, when the body becomes stressed – whether it's because of deficiencies, toxins, inflammation, age, genetics, or other factors – then DNA methylation can become impaired. This can lead to a variety of problems, including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and other health issues. It’s important to understand how it affects you and what changes can be made for optimal health.
It's also important for you to know how this one ingredient hidden in just about ever food affects you and your entire family.
To your longevity,
Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ