Do you know about the science of epigenetics? It studies how our DNA is signaled by the environment. In this week’s episode, you will discover how 75-90% of the epigenetic signals that influence and inform our genetic expression and impact our rate and speed of biological aging are lifestyle driven. This is a game changer because it actively puts you in control of optimizing your health. Learn the 4 quickest ways you can begin to shift how your DNA is expressed to reverse age for enhanced health and wellbeing. Your genes are not your destiny, tune in to this episode to learn more and become the architect of your longevity living potential today.
Show Notes and References:
Hi friend, and welcome here to the human longevity podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Melissa Peterson, and together we’re about to explore the science and solutions that can allow you to live better longer.
Today. We’re gonna talk about the epigenetics of longevity.
This is a field of modern science that is looking at how our DNA is expressed. We discovered many years ago when the human genome was mapped, that genes are not our destiny. They are a blueprint. They are a recipe, a code of life that makes you, you and me, me, however, 99% of that code is identical between all of us. So what really determines the difference? The answer, epigenetics.
It’s all about how our genes are expressed. And most specifically the information or the signal that’s above the gene. That’s the epigenome that sends that information in. It’s the signal that is going to tell that DNA what to do, and it’s going to allow it to turn on or off to open or close and to make our code accessible, to create every replication in the body to improve health wellbeing, and even longevity.
So this and so much more we’re gonna get into today as we dive into epigenetics. And we begin to really understand why this matters because Hey, spoiler alert 75 to 90% of what determines the signal above that. gene, that’s talking to our DNA, our very code of life is lifestyle driven.
This means you and I are in an incredible position to be really proactive, to do a few simple things really well, that will slow down the rate and pace of biological aging.
EPIGENETICS AND LONGEVITY (1)
It is this beautiful communication, this crosstalk between the outer world and the inner world. And it is the scientific understanding of what signals, what information from our everyday lives is actually positively or negatively influencing our own genetic code.
So now let’s take a moment. And again, remember that your DNA, it is like a recipe it’s proteins that come together in certain codes that will literally when activated, when the signal comes in, kind of activates them to make a replica, to make a copy. So the DNA opens up, this is a process called acetylation. It helps to transcribe or replicate that code to then make the proteins and the amino acids that fold up and carry the message into the appropriate areas of the body to do the job, whatever the key job is to make more tissues, to repair all of it. Well, once that code has been replicated, then it methylates, it needs to close back down. So this process of acetylation opening and methylation closing is critical to protecting as well as accessing our DNA. So an interesting thing that begins to occur as I just shared, the research shows that about 75 to 90% of what informs our epigenetic signals that literally talk to our DNA comes by way of our lifestyle, our environment. (2)
What does this mean? It means that what we are exposing ourselves to the foods, we’re eating the water, we’re drinking the air, we’re breathing the thoughts we’re thinking the emotions that are running through all of this elicits.
Our psychology is talking to our physiology and vice versa.
Everything is coming in and our system has to interpret it because the number one job of our body is to keep us safe and to keep us alive for as long as possible, as well as possible. And so what’s happening is this beautiful human system. Is this intricate, dynamic of constantly assessing the outer world Is the outer world friendly, or is it a foe Is there a threat that we’ve gotta detect Do we need to close down methylate protect and close off, or is it safe for thriving Can we grow forward now What’s interesting is there has to be a way, from a hereditary standpoint, to keep the species safe and alive and propagating right generation after generation changes to our genetic code while those are like the hardware, it takes a long time for something to happen.
And literally in the last a hundred thousand years, plus there’s been very few shifts to our primal code. However, there are changes in the phenotypic expression, how that code is read and what determines this? These methylation marks.
Methylation is going to close off and protect. If you will, certain parts of our code. Now this is good until it’s not in modern day society. We have a lot of disruption that’s creating more and more methylation over methylation or impairing our ability to properly methylate. And this is important because when we look through the lens of longevity and again, we’re talking epigenetics of longevity, what’s available to us to slow down, stop and, or even reverse the rate and pace of biological aging. This is again, really the study that all the scientists have been looking at for over 20 plus years. And it was really back in 2013 that, you know, the top minds from the top universities, everybody was trying to be the Nobel Laureate and find the one thing. (1)
What’s the fountain of youth. What’s the one pill lotion potion treatment that can reverse age that can keep us young, forever and ever, right And there really isn’t one thing, not yet who’s to say it may not happen, but as we understand this beautiful human body, we are a complex system of trillions of cells. So again, if we understand the cell and we understand what causes it to express youth and vitality and optimal function versus dysfunction breakdown disease, then there should be the key, right That’s the answer. That’s the path. The more we know about the cell and cellular medicine cellular health cellular function, that’s, what’s literally birthed the longevity industry. That’s what all the, when you hear about these molecules, when you hear about therapies, when you hear about treatments, every company is looking for a way to signal these cells in such a manner that it can slow down this rate and pace of biological aging.
Well, it got really interesting because this was all kind of in 2013, they brought all these, these cellular signatures together and said, Hey, we’ve got these nine hallmarks of aging. We have figured it out. Here’s why we age and why we really don’t have to, if we can just manipulate these certain nine components, we can begin to really slow down the effects. Okay, great. Well, Dr. David Sinclaire out of Harvard went even one step further. And he said, you know, if we kind of pull back and we look at this picture, these nine hallmarks of aging all have kind of one root unique expression, and that is inflammation. In fact, and we go back even further and we look at all of the modern diseases that we are treating cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmunity. We’re looking at these big problems that are leading people to the doctor every day.
And we look at their common expression. It’s also inflammation.
This kind of signature overall expression. And it got to say, wait, you know, is, is the disease the problem, or is the disease a symptom is the real problem. This aging process, this infl aging. So what inflammation is in our system in a real easy way to think about it, it’s like chaos, it’s noise. It starts to interfere with proper signaling and communication. Again, back to epigenetics. Epigenetics is really just about the passing of these signals of the information of bringing the information and interpreting it from the outer world to the inner world so that our DNA knows what to do when to do, how to do it and why. So it does it properly. And the better that we can signal our DNA, the better it can respond and repair and regenerate and replicate while the better we live longer.
Makes a lot of common sense, right So he said, well, Hey, if we’ve got all this inflammation and this inflammation is like chaos, and what this inflammation does is it starts to interfere with methylation. It starts to increase the amount of these methylation marks. Now simultaneously we had great minds of like Steven Hovarth and Dr. Levy looking at biological aging. And we talked a lot about this in the very first podcast episode here on the show and looking to say, Hey, we have these epigenetic clocks and we can measure how fast our tissue is, aging. How do we do it through methylation marks So again, these marks that are being put on the DNA, tell us a lot about the levels of stress to the system of inflammation, of chaos, of noise, of how the system is perceiving threats or challenges now to you.
And I, if we wanna slow down the rate and pace of aging, if we wanna look better, feel better, live better, longer than we get to say, well, what are the things that create this inflammation What are the things that create this chaos and this noise and, and dysregulate methylation. Because if we know that, then we can take steps to improve it.
So this is where it gets really interesting. This is when we make the crossover in the show from talking about the context and the science, and really kind of what this means into the application. This is where I’ve given you some information, but now let’s understand how we can apply and implement this into our everyday life.
When I say the word lifestyle, that can be big, right Again, foods, we’re eating thoughts. We’re thinking of relationships. We’re in environments that we’re living in quality of air.
It’s a lot. And it can feel like too much to tackle. Where do I start, Melissa I just wanna slow down the rate of aging. I just wanna improve my health so I can, you know, I can feel great every day, as many days as possible.
Let me go back and let’s just get to a common ground that is accessible. And it is this idea of stress. Now we talked a lot about stress in the last week’s episode, and here’s what I’ll remind you of. There’s good stress it. So stress is neutral, but it’s how our bodies interpret it. Right So how we perceive it psychologically tells our body like, oh, I think this is good or not. Good, good is use stress, right That, literally lowers the hormones of stress. Cortisol raises testosterone, raises oxytocin, and increases our ability to perform and be in focused flow.
That’s the good stuff. That’s when we’re excited, anticipatory eager, curious, open there’s the distress, which feels bad, feels worrisome. Overloading. I, I’m not excited about that. Feels like a lot of, a lot of pressure. Okay. So demands come into the system, physical, mental, emotional, chemical, and environmental. They come in different forms. They come into the system every day, every day that we’re alive and our system is designed to handle it. Our that’s how we literally grow and thrive forward. If we’re given the time to recognize respond, come back to rest, to recover. The rest and recovery is really important. Typically, as we go through life, we start to put more and more demands on the system. Now here’s the deal. We have these things that are big and small, the slow drip over time. Anytime our system, our brain perceives a threat real or imagined and emailed from somebody you didn’t like, Ooh, that’s a saber tooth tiger car accident, nearly averted.
Ooh, modern day saber tooth tiger. Right There’s real like almost hitting a car. And there’s imagine like, oh, this per this message from this person, our system feels the same rush of adrenaline in cortisol. We’ve gotta fight or flight. We’ve gotta literally release the cortisol to flood the system with glucose because that’s the fuel for our muscles that allows us to take action. Okay. So here’s the deal. The more demands on the system, the more we activate this cortisol response, the more cortisol, the more inflammation, the more glucose, the higher levels of insulin, the more noise in the system, because often we’re not, we’re not engaging. We’re just sitting and stewing and ruminating. So the stress builds up. These signals get crossed and our bodies become less efficient. We have more marks put down through the methylation because the system has gotta have a way to get from mother to offspring.
These really important notes of, Hey, this is a, this is an inhospitable environment. There’s a lot of danger. And I need you to know about this so that you can be safe in the next generation. You can watch out for this. You can be aware. So think of methylation, more like pencil marks. Here’s, what’s really cool. These marks can be erased. What we have found through biological age testing is that when we measure these marks, and then we go apply these lifestyle interventions, we can actually retest and we can see those marks remove. We can see the fact that we are aging in reverse, that things are working.
David Sinclair’s group said, okay, wait, if we think of our DNA, like data compressed on a CD, that’s the pure code. It’s got all the right instructions in our most vital and youthful way. And then life happens and we start to methylate and there’s inflammation. And we start to have this chaos and this noise let’s think of those like scratches on the disc. And when that disc is scratched, we can’t get to the information the same way anymore. Can we And so that’s the act of methylation closing parts of our DNA off. And if we’re literally closing off parts of our code, we’re closing off our own human potential, right. To really be at our best physically, mentally on all levels. And so his lab said, well, what if we could smooth over those scratches What if we could get back to that code… Could we literally have a way to signal the cell and reverse, like not just slow down biological aging, but literally to kind of hop back in time to, to go back to a time before those scratches, when the cell, when the information was as an in its pristine form? (3)
And the answer is yes, yes, they have proven this. They’re doing incredible breakthroughs. They have reversed blindness in mice, they’re in human trials. They’re going to be bringing out some incredible technologies. That’s all about cellular reprogramming. We’re going to use very specific signals and molecules and vectors to come in and basically kind of clear away those marks. So we can get right back to that pure code.
Now, while all this is in the research lab and going through studies and there’s exciting things coming in the near future of longevity right now today, you can begin to do different, simple actions that will start to erase some of those methylation marks. So if we know that this inflammation, one of the main culprits is kind of too many demands on the system. Well, I’m gonna encourage you to go back to last week’s episode, listen to living longer with stress.
Learn a little bit more about that. But for today, I just want you to realize that hormone cortisol is a powerful driver of this aging acceleration in our system. So when we can begin to lower cortisol, regulate cortisol, bring balance into our nervous system between our fight or flight and our rest and digest. And we do that by way of the vagus nerve. When we begin to do this, then we start to lower that rate and pace of aging. So here’s a few ways that we can do it. So step one, going back to last week’s conversation, we can regulate our nervous system to lower those stress hormones by kind of pumping the brakes when we are in distress. And how do you know you feel overloaded your heart Rate’s increasing your blood. Pressure’s increasing, you feel tight, you feel tense. You just feel like there’s like you’re gonna pop.
And it just doesn’t feel good. That’s a sign from your life, from your body. That there’s just too much happening right now. And that doesn’t mean that you’re not capable and competent. It’s just a sign to say, Hey, we’re in overdrive. Our foot’s been on the gas too long. We need to pump the break. We need to give a little ease to the system because remember stress is good, but we need to rest and recover. We need some recovery moments so that we can actually get even stronger. And we, we can even take on more. We can become even more capable than we already are. So when you’re feeling, you’re noticing heart is racing. Blood is pumping. Tension is rising, and you’re just feeling really drained and depleted and overloaded pump the brakes. How do we do that quickly How do we start to regulate that cortisol in a really effective way
We can use our vagus nerve. We can hum. That’s gonna help to release more. Nitric. Oxide is going to help to increase endothelial. Lining’s going to improve circulation, gonna bring more oxygen in. So more energy into the system. It’s going to help to lower cortisol, move us into parasympathetic. When we’re humming, it’s gonna pump the breaks. When we slow down our rate and pace of breathing, it’s gonna pump the break. So those are little micro moments that help to regulate our system. Now there’s many other ways go back and listen to that episode. If you wanna hear more, another way I want you to think about this is what we know is saying, okay. Our cortisol, that hormone that’s help. That’s really, pro-inflammatory when it’s chronically, under production, if you will, right Like lot of life demands. What we know is it’s tied to the natural circadian rhythm, that natural light dark cycle. (4)
So simply by beginning to attune ourselves with the light dark cycle, getting up with the sun, going to bed as, as the sun goes to bed, okay, we start to intrain and more normalize our cortisol function. A great way to do this is get early morning sunlight into your eyes, about 10 minutes. again, within those first, ideally two hours of waking as close to waking as possible, you can go out and walk the dog, have your, you know, have your tea, do some, breathing, some meditation, some intention setting. Same thing. At the end of the day, as sun is setting, go get 10 minutes. At the end of the day, the light is a very powerful signal to your hormones and it can immediately help your system to regulate. Next thing is to get up and engage your muscle. So if cortisol is the hormone to activate fight flight or freeze, we wanna use the glucose that is being put into the system and the fastest way to kind of so up that glucose is to build muscle, our muscles utilize it.
They metabolize it when we’re literally just sitting and relaxing. And one of the best ways you can support longevity is to increase your lean muscle mass. We start to naturally decrease about 1% every year from our thirties on of our lean muscle mass and this correlates with a condition called sarcopenia. And as we chronologically get older, the less muscle we have, the less mobile we become, the less independent we become. We, we suffer from being able to do just acts of daily living, picking things up, getting out of a chair, opening and closing doors and jars. And so we need our muscles so that we can move with strength and vitality. And so right here, right now, it’s gonna help to lower cortisol. It’s gonna help to allow you to be more metabolically active and the best way to do it is just engage those muscles with some resistance work, two to three times a week for about 20 to 30 minutes.
This means just go pick some things up. You can start with resistance spans. You can start with what’s called isometric contractions, which is literally sitting in your chair and just squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, those muscles release. You can get even more engaged by literally going to the gym or going out and doing yard work and lifting heavy things. Things with increased weight, right Putting more of a physical resistance demand on your muscles. This helps to build those muscles to become more metabolically active over time. And the last thing I wanna share with you today is this concept around methylation. Now I shared with you that today’s sponsor is our full script dispensary, and we are highlighting the thorn nutraceutical of their methyl guard. And the reason being is that this process of methylation it’s essential to methylate, isn’t bad, it’s necessary. It’s good. It happens every moment.
Like we need it to occur. Well, some of us over methylate, some of us under methylate. And again, it’s, it’s a bit of it is kind of what has happened within our code. And yet here’s the deal to properly methylate. We need folate folate folate is found in many beautiful green leafy veggies and food. There’s so many folate rich foods that you can simply get it by increasing your consumption of those types of food. If you have a busy lifestyle and you find yourselves deferring to a lot of things that are in boxes, bags, and cans and drive throughs, then the likelihood that you’re getting folic acid that’s been added back in is a form of that vitamin a precursor to folate that is not in its most natural form. And in processed foods, they strip it from its natural form. They add things back in and what they do is they typically don’t add back in the enzymes that are essential to break this stuff down and make it available to the body.
And what this means is about 65% of the population has issues with methylation. So we have some impairments and when things are in folic acid form, we don’t break it down properly. It takes longer and it starts to kinda have a backup and an impairment and it can actually become even more pro-inflammatory to the system. Again, accelerating that rate and pace of aging. So what does this all mean Well, we wanna eat more fully rich foods. Our foods that we eat, the molecules that we bring in, whether by supplementation or again, by natural foods, they signal our cells. They signal our health to either speed up or slow down that rate and pace of aging. So you may or may not know there’s ways to test this easily to see if you might have any type of a, when I say, impairment, like you just might have a slower pathway.
It doesn’t mean that it’s broken. It doesn’t work. It just means you might need some extra support. Okay. And so if you already know that you’ve got a lot of life demands, if you feel more overloaded more often, or you feel like experiencing more aches and pains, visible signs of chronological aging, you’re, you’re feeling more fatigued than you are energized. You know, these are just subtle signs that your body would really like some extra support. It would like to reduce some of the overload and overwhelm. It would like to invite more in of what uplifts and energizes it. And sometimes we need to just bring in some of those support tools by way of natural sunlight exposure, natural movement, just getting some time to do what the body was designed to do. You don’t have to overthink it. The body will kind of speak to you and guide you if you’re just willing to tune in, appreciate and listen a little bit and then just kind of go, okay, well, let me give it a try.
You got nothing to lose. And if you need some additional support, you know, and it feels easier just to say, Hey, I wanna go ahead and bring in some of this. Then there’s great research that shows how that effective a good methyl folate and B12 combination can be in really supporting those pathways. So now my friends we’ve talked about the epigenetics of longevity to realize that how we live the environments, we live in the demands to our system, physically, mentally, emotionally, chemically environmentally. They do stack up over a lifetime. And depending on the quality of those signals in determines the quality of the response out. So we’ve all heard garbage in garbage out, right So if we improve the signal, we clean the clutter, we start to just give our bodies more of what feels good to it. We start to lessen some of the demands.
We don’t have to overthink this. We can just start to create a little bit more space, a little bit more ease, which means the body doesn’t have to work as hard. It has less things that it’s seen in interpreting us threats to the system. So the system becomes more efficient, more effective. We’re working smarter versus harder. There’s more energy to go back into healing, repairing properly, replicating that DNA, right And so the net net gain and benefit for you and I, as we are literally slowing down the effects of biological aging. So we are youthy at a cellular level, regardless of how many candles are on the birthday cake for our chronological years. So now my friend as always, it is your turn. I wanna invite you. If you need a little help, go over to human longevity institute.com forward slash sponsors on that page.
Let’s go be about it. Remember information without implementation means nothing. So this is my official invitation from me to you to go implement, try a few of these things on for size. Just be curious, be kind to yourself, notice what you notice. You’re not gonna get it wrong. You can only get it right. If you really begin to get curious and to be eager and open to what is possible in you truly living your longest healthiest life at every age, in every stage, starting today, Dr. Melissa Petersen, thanks for tuning in.
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