Epigenetic Clues To How We Age - Will Turning Our Genes On Or Off Slow Down Ageing?
Ageing has always been a subject that many people have studied. Why do we age? What makes us less agile, or more wrinkled? Why do we suddenly develop sore muscles, stiffness in the legs and many other age related problems. In other words, why do we age?
If you look at a baby, their skin is silky soft, their hands are pliable and they look the picture of health. So what changes happen to our body as we grow older?
Scientists are beginning to look into Epigenetics or the epigenomes of an old man and a newborn baby. To try to see exactly what is going on. And why do our bodies go through so many changes as we grow older.
Methyl Group - What are they?
Methyl group are an alkyl, which is derived from methane. It contains a single carbon atom which is bonded to hydrogen atoms. Shown as CH3. These Hydrocarbon groups appear in organic compounds. There are three forms of methyl group. Cation, anion and radical. The anion has eight electrons, the cation has six and the radical has seven. The are all highly reactive.
What is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is the science of turning on or off our genes. If they can figure out a way to turn off a specific gene, it may just keep ageing to a minimum. Of course that's just a flight of fancy, I doubt if you could stop ageing altogether, but what if somehow it manages to slow down the ageing process? Can you imagine being 150 and still be able to play football? Unfortunately it doesn't mean that exactly. What it does mean is that in the future humans can age at a normal rate or slightly slower, but stay healthy longer.
Genes are the building blocks of the human body. In fact they can be called a blueprint. The strange thing is that in every cell throughout the body, there is in fact a copy of the whole. Can you imagine that? In plain English, this means that in every single gene you have, there is the whole layout or 'picture' of all your body.
At all times our body does not use all the genes. In fact some genes are very rarely used. Whether this is a cause of the decay as we age its not yet known. What they do know is that over time, the blueprint or our control over it, decays.
Scientists have now discovered a way to turn off the genes. By adding a small group of chemicals called methyl groups to a particular point in the DNA.
Results of Study
The scientists tested both the baby and the 103 year old man's white blood cells by adding the Methyl group. They found that the methyl group turned off more than 80 percent of the tested genes in the baby, and 73 percent in the elderly adult. That doesn't sound a lot, but it is in fact over half a million sites between the man, and the babies genes. They also tested a 26 year old male, and found the percentage was 78.
So what this is actually saying, is that as we age, we have less control over our genes and the older we get the more genes turn on. So from what I believe, age produces more turned on genes and this is what is ageing us. Or as the scientists would say, Epigenetics are playing a major role in ageing.
More importantly, this could be what affects our physical health as we grow older.
So, Can We Change Our Genes?
According to scientists, the way we act, our food, and lack of exercise can be a contributing factor of whether we can change our epigenome, Obviously the best way to stay healthy and keep our genes in check is to keep exercising, and eat properly. It seems this is the way to slow our ageing process. But scientists are looking into ways of manipulating our genes by introducing drugs to try and turn off the 'bad' genes.
So, however much you understand about the genome, how our genes work, whether they are turned on or off and so on, the best thing to do is just keep doing what you do best. Fruit, veg and exercise.
Take a look at the video and see exactly what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.
Ernestine Shepherd A 75 Year Old Body Building Grandma!
Ernestine wakes up everyday at 2.30 am to go running. For ten miles! If that wasn't hard enough she then hits the gym. Nothing special about that, you might add. But this lady is a little bit different. She is 75 years old! I couldn't write an article about anti ageing without showing this wonderful lady.
She started training when she was a sprightly 71 years of age. She hails from the city of Baltimore, Maryland.
Just goes to show that if you want to stop the ageing process, or at least slow it down, all you have to do is pick up those weights.
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