Epigenetic Clues To How We Age - Will Turning Our Genes On Or Off Slow Down Ageing?

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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.

source

www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/378576/methyl-group



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.



Chromatin Image.
Chromatin Image. | Source

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.

Exercise
Exercise | Source

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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Comments 61 comments

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US

Well if you look at Jane Fonda you can see it is possible to fight it! It does seem we get on a roll at some certain time and if we give up exercise and good diet, then hello getting old, huh? Great write! Votes up.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi polly, thanks as always, I just found this really interesting, mind you it took me a while to figure out the big scientific words! lol!


Fennelseed profile image

Fennelseed 4 years ago from Australia

The information you have provided on Epigenetics is certainly interesting and potentially could extend the life span of humans which is wonderful, however your amazing story and the video about Ernestine Shepherd puts things into perspective. Is intervening in our chemical makeup the answer to longevity when we all have the power to extend our life spans naturally by eating and exercising the way nature intended for humans.

I started reading your article thinking, wow, this sounds too good to be true, where do I sign up!!! My enthusiasm turned abruptly when you introduced Ernestine. What an inspiring lady and what a good reason for turning away from intervention and getting off our butts!!!

Thank you so much for this inspirational Nell, I will leave my comment there as I am off for a run!!

My votes to you and sharing this excellent hub far and wide!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks Fennel, it just caught my attention when I saw it in the news, and Ernestine happened to be on the same page too! what an amazing lady, it puts me to shame! lol! I do a bit of exercise in the mornings, mainly stretches and ballet exercises but nothing like she does, what an amazing lady, thanks, nell


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

Very interesting and informative article as always Nell. If you read my FP postings you realize I am all about nutrition and anti aging! I believe in detoxification and keeping the body in a state of "alkaline" (cancer cannot live in alkaline condition) versus "acid" balance. I believe we need to watch what we rub on our skin and put in our mouth. Our skin absorbs everything we put on it in less than a minute! All those parabens and PABA cause cancer which equals death most times. Take supplements, keep your system in an alkaline state, exercise, and stay thin as possible are the keys to a long life from what I've been reading.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Well that was fascinating; a subject I knew nothing about. Thank you for doing a great job of researching this and teaching this "aging" old man.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Mind and body can be a powerful combination in fighting aging- good genes, healthy environment and a positive outlook are a great triumvirate Nell. Thanks for updating us on epigenetics - great research is going on currently.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Excellent hub and research! I'm sure many people will find this article useful. Voted UP! Happy Birthday to YOU!:)


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Nell,

Ernestine is a perfect example that ageing doesn't mean getting old.

" But scientists are looking into ways of manipulating our genes by introducing drugs to try to turn off the 'bad' genes." " It is not nice to fool Mother Nature ," comes to mind.

Voted up and awesome.

Take care :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Lilleyth, I totally agree about what we put on our skin. I try to keep moisturiser down to a minimum, I always use olive oil for my arms etc, and I never spray my house with canned spray, I try and use natural flowers or pine, thanks again nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, billy, lol! I think we are all on the aging side. Its my birthday today so I am feeling it! lol! I am going to get exercising! the funny thing was, writing this it wasn't the subject that was hard to get me head around, it was the word, ageing! evidently in England and other places we spell it ageing, over in America and Canada you spell it aging! haha! another one of those, you say potato we say potarto!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, thanks again Docmo you are busy tonight! lol! yes good genes are a bonus, and of course a positive outlook too, as long as we keep exercising and not eating too much we should hopefully keep healthy for years, thanks again, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Linda, thanks so much! I have already ate the birthday cake my son brought over yesterday! lol!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Sue, yes I totally agree with you, as long as people do the right things, such as exercise and eat properly they should leave the genes alone until they are certain they will know exactly what they are doing, thanks so much for reading, cheers nell


sandrabusby profile image

sandrabusby 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Thanks, NellRose, for such a well-written and well-researched hub on slowing the ageing process. It is totally fascinating how much control we have over how our bodies function, including how fast they age. Love it.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks sandra, it just caught my attention, and then I realised that actually we could help ourselves with exercise etc, glad you liked it, and thanks again, nell


lovedoctor926 4 years ago

Happy Birthday! Best wishes.


Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

Happy birthday, Nell. ~~ You know, it's really weird. ~~ Earlier today, I accidentally ran into that video about Ernestine Shepherd. I thought that was sooo o o o cool! Now I see that you have it on your Hub. Very nice.

Here in the U.S.A., we have a birthday "tradition" --- of one punch per year of age. LOL --- Or, for couples in love , one kiss per year of age.

Take care, happy birthday, Nell.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Very, very interesting information. The world would be a different place if we could all live to be old and healthy. Great story about the 75 year old body builder. I would assume one would have to be in shape for years before this. Great information. Voting up and sharing!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

That is very interesting article Nell, on a subject we will probably hear quite a lot about over the next few years. The pensions bombshell will be talked about a lot as well. What are these super long-lived people going to live off? Who's going to pay their gym subscriptions?


Literary Geisha profile image

Literary Geisha 4 years ago from Philippines

amazing! just goes to show what your body can do, if you only give it a chance (and give it what it needs).

since i started freelancing i haven't had much time to exercise, and boy am i feeling old now! thanks for reminding me that we *can* slow the aging process.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Great hub, interesting and useful. Exercise, healthy life style and an adequate dose of laughter should beat epigenetics. Voted up.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

I have read a bit about eugenics, but I really enjoyed all the details in your hub. This is a very interesting hub and it makes me know I need to pick up the exercise!


robie2 profile image

robie2 4 years ago from Central New Jersey

Fascinating stuff, Nell Rose. More exciting proof of the mind/body connection and of the fact that exercise is the fountain of youth ( I think Ernestine just may live forever. Hats off to her) Voting this up and awesome.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I was familiar with Ernestine before this hub and she's an inspiration. I can barely manage running a mile before becoming exhausted and I'm only 51. So maybe I'll be up to her level of running in a decade or too. Voting this Up and Interesting.


mjboomer profile image

mjboomer 4 years ago from Oregon

Very interesting, I agree that a healthy lifestyle is the key. Have you looked into horemone replacement therapy? I have come across some who say hormone replacement therapy reduces the effects of ageing as well.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks lovedoctor! so far on my birthday, I have been to the dentist, and someone has stolen my bike! lol! oh well that's life, thanks!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks Huntgoddess, we do the pinch punch thing on the first day of the month! lol! but on birthdays we just chuck people up in the air, in my case I don't have that many friends to carry my weight now! lol!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi tammy, I think she was 71 when she started training! lol! how about that? wow! thanks so much as always, nell


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

This whole article confirms so much of what I believe is true. I knew about the "holistic" properties of our cells carrying the entire genetic makeup, but Epigenetic is a real eyeopener.

Hey girl, we share a birthday. Have a great one! If they keep up the funding on Epigenetics we'll stay young together :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi christopher, yes I had forgotten about the pensions! maybe we will work for a longer time, who knows, but its something to think about, thanks as always, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Literary, yes I agree, I tend to sit here in front of the pc without exercising! lol! we will have to start a hub exercise program! thanks for reading, cheers nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Vellur, yes laughter is the best medicine, or so I heard! lol! thanks so much nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Pamela, yes it seems that exercise is the key to keeping those genes in check, and maybe the Jeans too! lol! thanks!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks robie, isn't she great? she looks about 45 or even less! thanks so much for the comment and vote, cheers nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi alocsin, I can't even run to the shop at 53! lol! mind you I do a lot of exercise indoors, ballet formats etc, but running? no way, unless of course there is someone after me! haha! thanks again, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi mjboomer, my friend uses hormone replacement, I think it causes a bit of stomach pain occasionally, maybe its just her? I will take them I think, when I know my exercise no longer works! lol!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Hilary, happy birthday too! how strange is that? yes we will keep on exercising, take the new anti age pills and go clubbing at ninety! haha! thanks as always, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Hilary, happy birthday too! how strange is that? yes we will keep on exercising, take the new anti age pills and go clubbing at ninety! haha! thanks as always, nell


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Very interesting hub Nell--I understand that exercising becomes more important as we get older, so nice to see some the science behind that--


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Audrey, yes it seems that exercising not only helps to keep the genes young, but can also help with pain too, I was watching it on tv the other night! thanks again, I really appreciate it, cheers nell


lilyfly profile image

lilyfly 4 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

Interesting! Compelling! Oh, Nell, how I have missed your unshakeable faith in life! I guess I am laid off from being laid off, so now, I'll be able to read these great uplifting things you do! Wonderful! Love yaz, lily


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi lily, its great to see you! sorry to hear you have lost your job, be over in a parsec! lol!


Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

LOL :-))


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This hub is packed with useful information! I learned quite a bit, thanks.


Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

OMG --- My last comment --- "LOL" with a smiley --- was about the pinch punch for birthdays and all that. It ended up looking like it was meant for the person who lost a job. No, never, not at all. So so so sorry for that.

And --- of course so sorry about the lost job. I hope you find an even better one, and the other folks beg you to come back at double the salary.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Christy, glad you liked this, and thanks!

Hi Huntgoddess, lol! don't worry, I think lily realised what you meant, I am sure she will get a new job soon, and I realised you were replying to your comment to me, thanks again, nell


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

This is really interesting, Nell. I didn't know each cell in our body had our genetic blueprint on it. That is amazing. I must have been asleep that day in biology class when we were supposed to learn this. lol. I do take a supplement, recommended by my internist, called Protandim, that cleans out the toxins from the body all they way down to the cell level. I am literally cleaning the cells in my body with this supplement. And, I truly can feel the difference in my body. If I am removing the toxins in my cells, perhaps I am extending my life also. Hmmmm, I have to talk to my internist about this. I was taking this supplement just to clean out my body and colon. May be we have reached Brave New World. Who knows?


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi suzette, yes the genetic blueprint is a fascinating idea isn't it? I remember seeing it on tv once a while ago, I couldn't believe it! I would imagine that's why scientists can grow ears and skin etc using a wire mesh and dna, fascinating subject. I haven't heard of protandim, I will have to take a look, thanks again, nell


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

Yes, Exercise, and Attitude are so Important, as well as a halfway decent Diet. Staying Happy and Intact are also Important. I Loved your Hub Nell, very Informative as well as Educational. I plan to live to be at LEAST 110, but I want to be Healthy, not in a HOME, but living with Lover Man on our own...maybe make that 115 or 120...or....


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi b. Malin lol! only 120? surely you can do better than that! glad you liked it, it is a fascinating subject isn't it? mind you the amount of exercise I get in a day, I need to sit down! lol! thanks!


cameciob profile image

cameciob 4 years ago

Great, now I have to hit the gym too! Your hub is a great motivator.

I would love to read an article about that 75 year old lady.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Aw, rats Nell. They took down Grandma's body-building video. At any rate this hub is rated high for some cool info on the epigenetics science and your take on the methyl results. Some whistle-blowers say life-extension tech is already being used by some super-elites in the world but under no circumstances are we peasants to ever have it. That's just not fair is it Nell!?


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi cameciob, yes that lady was great wasn't she? I try and exercise most days especially swimming, sorry to push you to the gym! lol! I really must join again, thanks for reading, and nice to see you, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Alastar thanks for telling me, i will have to see if I can find another one, that doesn't surprise me about the super elite, but we poor peasants have to do it the old way! lol! oh well back to the gym! haha! thanks as always, nell


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Hope you find another good vid of granny and her body-building routine Nell; and oh yeah, theres much to be said about the old ways of helping ones self to at least have a better quality of life by exercise and healthy eating!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Alastar, thanks! I have just found one and given it the appropriate name, it was evidently some company that was copyright infringing, so that was okay, there were a few others on there that said Share, so hopefully this one is okay, thanks for letting me know, cheers nell


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Fascinating hub on epigenetic and their possible ways that can improve our lives. Being a huge movie buff...I have seen so many science fiction movies were aging in the future has been fixed.....it seems that the science in your hub is the stepping stone to making science fiction a reality in our future. All the more reason to start changing my diet and include healthy food. Voted up and interesting.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks Cogerson, yes I always say that writers of sci-fi are the inventors of the future, thanks so much for reading, cheers nell


Larry Fields profile image

Larry Fields 4 years ago from Northern California

Hi Nell. This subject interests me very much.

Shortly before the term epigenetics became widely used, biochemists were fascinated by a phenomenon they called imprinting. A variation of a gene that we inherit may or may not be expressed at some point in our lives. Even if that gene version is dominant!

It turned out that the determining factor was which parent contributed that particular gene version. In light of our present knowledge of epigenetics, we can simply say that one can inherit either a switched-on or switched-off version of the gene from either parent. But it seemed downright spooky at the time.

This partially explains the difficulties in cloning farm animals. In the cloning process, some of the switched-off genes accidentally get switched on. And the baby animal can't survive with too many switched-on genes.

Voted up and interesting.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Larry, yes never thought that about cloning, I do remember reading that to clone somebody or something, makes the clone the same 'age' as the donor! even if it's a baby, the actual cells are say 25 for example, strange stuff! thanks as always, nell

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