Lesley talks with Angela Beecroft, who regular readers of this blog will know who helped her with Losing It!
Imagine a world where we can reset our genes and radically slow down the ageing process where lifestyle changes can alter the way you age? Well thanks to the latest cutting edge research that world is closer than you may think!
Your genetic code is the hand you have been dealt, your unique blueprint defines your biochemical makeup and body shape, it influences how you stay physically and mentally fit as you age. If you have won the genetic lottery you may stay flawless, skinny with a flat tummy and be blessed with long legs and good muscle tone, however the majority of us end up with an expanding waistline, loss of muscle tone, thinning bones, cellulitis, wrinkles, declining memory and various parts of our anatomy heading south.
The good news is that scientists have unlocked the genetic code finding new ways for us to take control of our genes, rather remarkably around 90% of the signs of ageing and disease are caused by lifestyle and can be influenced by the three pillars of healing: our choices of food, exercise and mindfulness. How you live your life, your environment, your inner biochemistry, your thoughts all influence how you age.
The Human Genome project was completed in 2003, since then scientists have strived to identify the specific genetic switches which influence metabolism, weight, skin health, disease, cognitive decline and overall ageing. The turning on and off of genes is called Epigenetics: your genes load the gun and your environment pulls the trigger, as the body of knowledge grows so does our ability to influence gene activity. There is much more to learn about Epigentics, this exciting field of research is expanding at a phenomenal speed.
Whatever your age it’s never too late to influence how you age! One of my clients is extremely glamorous, in great shape, runs 5k every day, takes no medication, has bags of energy and lives life to the full, she is 73 and hasn’t had a cold for as long as she can remember and wakes every day feeling great! She has a great health span, the period of time you can thrive, living in harmony, without any illness and feeling healthy and happy and bursting with vitality.
Life in the 21st century means many of us are trudging along on our “hamster wheel” of life, exposed to increasing stress levels, pollution, pesticides, preservatives, inactivity, bad fats, high sugar consumption and chronic sleep deprivation. Sounds familiar? Well you now have a choice, step off the hamster wheel and take control and invest in your future health for optimal ageing.
Let’s look at what influences our genes.
There are 6 specific genes that affect ageing and have the greatest impact on your health. If you have a variant on this gene (a small change that can influence whether the gene behaves in a positive or negative way) what you eat, drink and environmental factors can turn these genetic variants on or off.
- Fat Mass and Obesity associated (FTO) Gene, this gene influences your risk of obesity and diabetes, it is responsible for how hungry you feel and how quickly you feel full after eating. A high fibre, low carbohydrate personalised diet with increased exercise helps balance blood sugar levels, lower insulin levels to prevent the middle weight gain and the development of Diabetes Type 2.
- Methylation Gene (MTHRF) this plays a role in processing B Vitamins, proteins and alcohol, a variant on this gene may lead to mental health issues, depression and a greater risk of Cardiovascular disease. High homocysteine levels associated with a variant on this gene can be reduced with a green smoothie full of Folate, B6 & B12.
- Vitamin D Gene, VDR Gene influences your ability to absorb Vitamin D which is clearly necessary for health bones, if you have a variant on this gene you are more likely to suffer bone loss so you require a higher levels than the recommended daily Vitamin D intake of 1000-2000 IU per day.
- Longevity Genes, (mTOR) (FOX03) (SIRT1) these regulate cell growth and healthy cell division, telomere activity and lifespan, so a variant on these genes may have a profound impact on your lifespan. Telomeres are rather like a hair plait, as you age the telomere unravels Influencing cell division, they are the timekeepers of the cell and as the telomere unravels you age.
Where do we start? Well let’s start with the foundation block of our health – “The Human Microbiome”- this is the 2 kilo of bacteria that live in your gut, from your mouth to your bottom you have a balanced system of microbes, this changing ecosystem is the very foundation block of your health and has a profound effect on every system in the body. Your gut microbes constantly communicate with your genes influencing how they behave so it makes sense to start with improving gut health. Every folk full of food either promotes or reduces inflammation, every folk full of full is full of microbes, the health of your gastrointestinal tract determines if the microbes are harmful or friendly.
One size fits all is now an outdated model for Medicine, the last 3 decades of low fat, high sugar, low fibre, high carbohydrate consumption in highly processed foods have left a terrible legacy with increasing levels of chronic health issues which have their roots in inflammation and toxicity, people are living longer with conditions including Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease and Cancers, the treatment of which is crippling our health services. The Institute of Functional Medicine has given us a blueprint to change the way we do Medicine to take a personalised approach to the healthcare we practice. We all want to live a long healthy lifespan where we have optimal health and function.
We now have tremendous potential and the tools to make this happen.
Top tips to switch on your longevity genes!
- Look after your gut, take a good quality probiotic capsule to repopulate the beneficial bacteria for at least a month a year and eat the following prebiotic foods which feed the good bugs: blueberries, garlic, chickpeas, chicory, oats, artichoke hearts, asparagus, apples and green bananas. Increase your intake of gentle fibre by adding milled Flaxseed meal to breakfast, soups or a smoothie, this promotes gut motility (how your gut moves) and helps removes toxins. A low carbohydrate high fibre diet can influence the activity of the (FTO)Gene.
- Eat 20% less food and at least a pound of different coloured vegetables a day, aim for a rainbow plate at every meal, limit your intake of lean red meat to 1-2 times a week and increase fresh fish, seafood, chicken, use pulses & legumes and root vegetables as your carbohydrates.
- Make good fats your friend, have a daily intake of Omega 3 fats from cold water fish, salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel, sardines & anchovies, & Omega 6 fats from nuts & seeds and their cold pressed oils which you don’t heat! Cook with organic coconut oil. Avoid sunflower, canola, corn and all hydrogenated oils.
- Avoid dairy, sugar and gluten and processed beige foods, use grains such as buckwheat, quinoa and gluten free oats in minimal amounts
- Have intermittent fasting for 12-18 hours once to twice a week, this can switch on the SIRT1 longevity gene, so don’t eat from 6pm to 12 midday the next day.
- Move, engage in exercise that you love that makes you sweat at least 3 times a week.
- Meditation not only helps lower your Cortisol levels (the stress hormone), decreases anxiety but it also increases brain plasticity (the way your brain cells talk to each other)
- Sitting in a sauna for 20 minutes 3 times a week is thought to switch on your Longevity Gene (FOX03)
- Reduce your alcohol intake for Freshly pressed red grape juice, pomegranate juice & cherry juice which contain compounds which influence your SIRT1 longevity Gene. Drink bone broth, miso & coconut milk kefir
- Oral hygiene, taking good care of your gums, teeth and oral cavity has an amazing effect on health, bugs in your mouth can migrate into your blood stream with poor oral hygiene and influence immune activity. Swish coconut oil around your mouth for 10 minutes daily to improve your oral microbiome, plague prevention and gum health.
Mark is a 74 year old gentlemen who has a passion for life and his health, he engages in skiing and cycling, follows the above principles, using Functional Nutrition we have improved his “gut microbiome” tested his DNA so he eats according to his genes, he meditates often, sees the beauty in his environment and lives life to the full, his DNA age came out at 58 years which is remarkable 16 years younger than his chronological age.
Functional Nutrition Consultations uses a whole system approach to optimise your health span and longevity. An initial consultation serves to guide you in the direction of specific Functional testing for you, depending on your family and past medical history. We can explore your “Human Microbiome” with Map My Gut, measure your DNA age and unlock your unique genetic code.
Angela Beecroft www.angelabeecroft.com
To book an appointment phone 0207 436 4441