Nothing grabs my attention more than a piece of ground-breaking research that shows how to reverse the aging process. The trial suggests that we can, in only 8 weeks, reduce our biological age by 3 years or more through diet, lifestyle, and balancing DNA methylation.
This new peer-reviewed study by Helfgott Research Institute published in Impact Journals LLC found that exercise and diet don’t just make you feel good, it also helps to reverse the aging process.
So, forget chronological age, it’s biological age that counts.
What exactly is DNA methylation?
This all gets a bit complicated, but if you want to be spared the science, jump to the end and find the list of foods to eat to reverse your biological age.
If we think of the body as a complex machine, with various gears and switches that need to be switched on and off to work property, methylation can be regarded as the mechanism that controls the gears and switches. It’s the process of methylation that enables the cardiovascular, neurological, reproductive, and detoxification systems in the body to perform their functions.
The process of methylation involves the transferral of one set of methyl atoms (CH3) into a series of amino acids, proteins, enzymes, and DNA. These biochemical reactions regulate the activity of a series of biological processes in the body, including those which relate to: –
- Repairing and building DNA and RNA
- Processing hormones
- Building immune cells
- Producing energy
- Repairing cell membranes
- Turning the stress response on and off
- Supporting neurotransmitters – the brain’s communication chemicals
- Supporting fat metabolism
How does methylation work?
For methylation to occur, methyl (CH3) is exchanged through the body by a universal methyl donor known as SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine). SAMe readily gives away its methyl group to other substances in the body, which activates the process of methylation.
The process is reliant on the body having enough active folate (5-MTHF) which our body converts from dietary folic acid.
Provided we get enough folic acid from the diet, and our body can convert this folic acid into active folate the process of methylation occurs however it is estimated that anything upwards of 45-50% of the general population have a deficient gene that prevents folic acid converting to 5-MTHF.
Without enough 5-MTHF, the process of methylation is compromised, biological switches may not be activated and the consequence is that the body is unable to produce enough of the important molecules which play an important role in energy production, sleep, managing stress, regulating blood sugar, and maintaining skin elasticity.
How to know if there’s an imbalance?
There is a simple and easy genetic test to find out if you have a problem with your methylation cycle. This test looks at specific enzymes that are affected by your genetic makeup, having said all that, and this is where I return to more comfortable territory because I really don’t know much about genetics or chemistry if you do decide to test and discover that you have a gene mutation which prevents you from converting folate acid to 5-MTHF, it is extremely likely that your health care advisor will recommend you change your diet, and increasing your intake of B vitamins to improve the methylation cycle.
A word of caution
Expert in the field of methylation and author of Methylation Diet and Lifestyle expert Kara Fitzgerald writes that while poor methylation and folate deficiency has been linked with conditions, including ADHD, autism, allergies, anxiety, diabetes, heart disease, insomnia, depression, and even aging, methylation is not something to self-diagnose. Excessive methylation is linked to immune dysfunction and cancer. At her clinic in Connecticut, to improve methylation and reverse the aging process, they use dietary and lifestyle practices with all their patients who need methylation support, alongside or in place of supplements. For many, a dietary and lifestyle approach alone is the long-term goal.
What to eat to improve the methylation cycle
Using a dietary approach first and foremost to improve methylation and reverse the aging process is essential because there are other compounds within whole foods that work synergistically with one another to support good health.
The following list of foods is considered to help balance DNA methylation and promote overall health and wellness.
- Dark leafy greens – Kale, spinach, silverbeet, Asian greens, watercress, beetroot leaves, warrigal greens.
- Cruciferous vegetables – Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccolini, cabbage, and kale
- Liver – Choose organic grass-fed beef liver or organic free-range chicken liver to avoid ingesting toxins.
- Beans and legumes
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Sunflower and sesame seeds
A final note
Science continues to reveal more about the system and processes at play within the body. Early nutritional studies identified individual nutrients and their function within the body and discovered later the synergistic benefits of eating whole foods rather than isolated nutrients. Today we understand about the interplay between the gut and the brain.
At the end of the day, it comes down to what we have known for decades which is: