How Can Phyto-Nutrients Affect Epigenetic Change?
You cannot change your genes – they are the blueprint for you, fixed at conception.
But not all genes are active. At any one time, about 50% are silent - switched off – which means they have no immediate impact on your health.
That leaves about 50% that are active or as scientists say ‘expressed’. They are switched on.
Genes contain the information for producing proteins - which control all the ways your body works. When the activity of a gene is changed from silent to active - or from active to silent –- the process is called ‘epigenetic change’.
This change can have a fundamental effect on your health – which can be either beneficial or adverse.
For example, there are genes that make you more susceptible to dangerous mutations (cancer) – called onco-genes. You’ll want those to be switched OFF.
And genes called tumour suppressor genes – you’ll want those to be switched ON.
How are genes switched on or off?
The way genes are expressed can be influenced by food intake, by individual phyto-nutrients, by activity levels, by stress, by chemicals, by the timing of calorie intake – even by the environment including temperature1.
Which means that you are NOT a prisoner of your genes. You can take action to affect the way your genes are expressed.
Interesting proof of that comes from studies of twins. They do not often die of the same thing and the average period of time between identical twins dying is over 10 years. So whilst they shared exactly the same genes, the difference in the foods they ate and the lifestyle they followed, meant that their rate of ageing and their health-span was very different.
Which genes most affect healthy ageing? And which nutrients modify them?
You have about 20,000 genes, but only a relatively few appear to be directly central to ageing and longevity. The main ones and how to express them with nutrition are as follows. You’ll understand why we included such a wide range of phyto-nutrients in DailyColors.
But as always, a supplement is not a substitute for a generally healthy lifestyle. A gene is not simply switched on or off once. You need to continue with the right foods and nutritional intake to maintain the gene expression you want. Note, also, that exercise is a vital gene activator, too!
FOXO3 gene. Often referred to as the ‘longevity gene’2, researchers have found that people in whom this gene is more fully expressed have a 270% increased chance of living to 100.
The FOXO gene increases proteins that repair DNA, enhance immune response, improve the mitochondrial production of energy and increase your own antioxidant defences against excess free radical damage3.
Studies show you can help increase FOXO3 expression through diet that includes Omega 3, mushrooms like chaga and reishi, green tea extract and phyto-nutrients from blackcurrants, blueberries, grapes, rosemary, beetroot and coffee bean extract.
AMPK gene is referred to as the ‘master switch’ that regulates metabolism, mitochondrial activity, promotes glucose uptake into muscles, improves insulin sensitivity and helps burn fat5.
When activated the AMPK gene, and the protein/enzyme it creates, helps protect against obesity and diabetes. AMPK also helps recycle the material from cells when they reach the end of their life – a vital process called autophagy6. If that debris is not cleared away, it causes inflammation in surrounding cells - which then leads to long term health issues.
There is a direct relationship between AMPK and FOXO and we know that AMPK activates FOXO proteins.
In common with other longevity pathways, AMPK is activated by calorie restriction7. That doesn’t necessarily mean fasting - but ensuring that there is normally a 12-14 hour over-night gap between dinner and breakfast. Meaning mid-night snacks are a no-no. That’s because AMPK is activated when the body senses a lack of calories.
Phyto-nutrients identified as involved in AMPK activation include resveratrol (from grapes), quercetin (onions/apples), anthocyanins (blueberries/blackcurrant), apigenin (parsley/rosemary/ onions, etc), oleuropein (olives) and punicalagins (pomegranates).
Other AMPK activating foods include green tea, curcumin and Omega 3.
SIRT 1 gene: this gene is central to the production of NAD+ - a molecule essential for energy production but which – without positive action – declines as we get older8.
SIRT 1 appears to be activated by green tea, curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric), onions, ginger, kale, rosemary, parsley, blueberry, blackcurrant, soy products, olive fruits, and walnuts.
PGC-1a gene: This is another ‘master gene’ – involved in the creation of healthy mitochondria and playing “a central role in the regulation of cellular energy metabolism9” Levels of the protein created by this gene normally drop over the years – meaning you get tired more often as you age.
It’s also believed that PGHC-1a is helps protect against neuro-degenerative disease and helps lower inflammation. There is a close link between this gene, AMPK and SIRT1.
Phyto-nutrients known to positively effect PGC-1a include those from grapes, olive leaf, green tea, rosemary, and kale.
Nrf2 gene: The Nrf2 pathway is the master system the body turns on when it wants to make its own antioxidants to protect its cells11.
That’s really important because “in-house antioxidants” are far more powerful at quenching or reducing damaging excess free radicals than antioxidants from the diet. (Which helps explain why taking antioxidants supplements on their own appears to have limited effect on health-span.)
Activating Nrf2 is critical in chemoprevention and in protection against cardiovascular, renal, and pulmonary disorders.
NrF2 closes down many inflammatory pathways – which is important for long-term health as inflammation is a key driver of almost all age-related diseases. That’s why an article in the National Library of Medicine is titled: “Nrf2, a guardian of health-span and gatekeeper of species longevity13”
Phyto-nutrients that activate Nrf2 include those from broccoli, kale and spinach (sulforaphane and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin ), from herbs (like rosemary and oregano), from spices like ginger and curcumin and from green tea.
The fundamental scientific breakthrough of DailyColors is that it inhibits or blocks multiple enzymes that otherwise lead to the unwanted effects of ageing. But enzymes are proteins and genes direct the making of proteins.
Research confirms that there are specific phyto-nutrients that appear to activate ‘longevity genes.’
That’s why we put such a large range of phyto-nutrients in DailyColors™.
There are an increasing number of ‘anti-aging’ supplements now on the market. Most of them are ‘magic bullets’ aiming to prevent one aspect of ageing with impossible-to-pronounce chemical compounds.
But aging is NOT a simple process. There are multiple pathways involved. And what we do know is that both enzymes and gene expression are at the heart of this complicated process.
Which is why DailyColors is designed to influence multiple aging pathways – but with all-natural phyto-nutrients that the body is familiar with.
- Environmental Influences on Gene Expression | Learn Science at Scitable (nature.com)
- FOXO3: A Major Gene for Human Longevity--A Mini-Review - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Long live FOXO: unraveling the role of FOXO proteins in aging and longevity - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Abstract_Booklet_P1.ai (wynlife.com)
- Regulation and function of AMPK in physiology and diseases (nih.gov)
- AMPK at the Nexus of Energetics and Aging (nih.gov)
- The AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling pathway coordinates cell growth, autophagy, & metabolism (nih.gov)
- Sirtuins in aging and disease - PubMed (nih.gov)
- PGC-1alpha: a key regulator of energy metabolism - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Grape seed proanthocyanidin extracts ameliorate podocyte injury by activating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α in low-dose streptozotocin-and high-carbohydrate/high-fat diet-induced diabetic rats - Food & Function (RSC Publishing)
- NRF2, a Transcription Factor for Stress Response and Beyond - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Role of Nrf2 in Oxidative Stress and Toxicity (nih.gov)
- Nrf2, a guardian of healthspan and gatekeeper of species longevity - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Cancer chemoprevention by dietary polyphenols: promising role for epigenetics - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Combinatorial Epigenetics Impact of Polyphenols and Phytochemicals in Cancer Prevention and Therapy (nih.gov)