Epigenetics and Longevity


I had a very interesting workshop last week from Healthy Life Lab about epigenetics and longevity.
Epigenetics is about how you can influence your genes and longevity is about how you can live long in good health. Both subjects were very interesting, so I would like to share a quick recap of this workshop with you.
(Click here if you want to read this blog post in Dutch)


Photo by the National Institutes of Health

Genetics is about what can’t be changed, your genes. Epigenetics is about that what you can influence. It’s a very young science, that says that 30-25% of your behavior is decided by your genes, 20% by your environment and no less than 50% by epigenetics. So you have a lot more influence than you might think!
I forgot pretty much everything that I’ve learned about genes at high school, luckily the ladies of Healthy Life Lab always uses helpful video clips to support their information. Click here for a lesson in the basics of ‘what are genes’, that we’ve also watched during the workshop.
Epigenetics is about how you can turn your genes ‘on and off’. This can be both be reversible as irreversable. There’s information in your genes that you can either read or not read. By what you eat, you decide wether you ‘open’ that information, this process is called methylation. This happens constantly in the body.
By your nutrition your mythil group can open a piece of DNA, making it easy to read. This can be positive, for example it can tell your body to make insulin. But it can also be negative, it could for example open a piece of DNA with a genetic disorder. A good example of epigenetics is diabetes (type 2).

The ladies of Healthy Life Lab had a genetic profile of themselves made, with this you can explore what your DNA says about your health, traits and ancestry. Healthy Life Lab can help you translate the outcome to information that is easy to understand.

Longevity is about how you can live as long and healthy as possible. Duting this part of the workshop we mainly talked about the Blue Zones. Perhaps you’ve heard about it, there are 5 areas in the world where people live longer and healthier. In case you want to know more about it, I recommend the Ted Talk from Dan Buether which we’ve also watched during the workshop.
It’s of course very interesting to see what the similarities are between these areas, so that we can adjust our lifestyle and diet to live longer and healthier as well!

baklust den haagBelow is a list of the most important similarities of inhabitants of the different Blue Zones in the world:

* They eat until they’re 80% satisfied
* They have a big social network
* They don’t smoke
* They eat plant based
* They have a purpose
* They have constant moderate activity.

These are all things that we could adjust, we don’t have to move to Sardine or Okinawa for it!
One of the easiest things we could adjust is our diet. We don’t have to stop eating meat and fish completely to live up to be 100, but we should heavily decrease our intake. Use fruit and vegetables as the main staples of your diet. All recipes on my blog are without meat and most of them are vegetarian or vegan, so you have enough inspiration to start eating more plant based!

Fun fact: a chimpanzee (with whom 95% of our genes are identical) eats mostly plants and nuts, only 3% of their diet consists of meat. 

The other good advice is to stop eating at 80%. Which can be challenging in our modern day society where we have an abundance of food. Research shows that if you would stick to 70-90% of your daily calorie intake, your life expectancy raises with 35%.

In short:
Eat plant based. Eat in moderation. 

The Workshopcafe blossom
Lotta and Eline from Healthy Life Lab have a great way of making you understand the sometimes difficult information. This physiotherapist and dietician use evidence based knowledge to help you live healthy and happily. And they always serve delicious vegetarian food during their workshops!
If you’re also interested in their events, I recommend you have a look at their website or like them on Facebook.

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