Longevity, anti-ageing & ageing well methylation

22 April 2022

Longevity, anti-ageing & ageing well  methylation

There is a great deal of talk about longevity, anti-ageing & ageing well. This hot topic combines the power of epigenetics, DNA methylation & methylation adaptogens. The focus of @drkarafitzgerald book YOUNGER YOU, beautifully explains how combining these 3 elements have shown in human studies to lower biological age by 3.23 years - in 8 weeks!

Methylation is a term you may have heard, but one specific type - DNA methylation plays a VITAL role in epigenetic expression. Essentially, epigenetics has the power to change which of our genes are expressed & which are not. This is a powerful concept meaning you can inherit some unfortunate genes & still regulate the expression of those genes more favourably. Optimising our epigenetics has the potential to affect our society's most problematic health service, crippling chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity & autoimmunity & has been shown to turn back the hands of our biological ageing clocks.

When methyl groups are added onto of a strand of DNA, it’s HYPERMETHYLATED, turning DOWN the volume/expression of that gene. Conversely, the removal of methyl groups, being HYPOMETHYLATED - turns on a gene.

What all four studies showed was that the process of normal ageing & accelerated ageing as we see in conditions like insulin resistance causes the hyper and hypo methylation to work in the wrong way - turning down “good genes” like tumour suppressor and anti-inflammatory genes. Together with there being fewer methyl groups to turn down or silence “bad” genes.

Dr Fitzgerald’s book & study highlights dietary compounds (most often flavonoids) such as EGCG found in green tea, sulforaphane, quercetin, luteolin, naringin & more which have the ability to appropriately demethylate areas of the epigenome when necessary, acting to balance out DNA methylation to a healthy level. 

Here are my 6 top methylation adaptogenic foods, with some cooking ideas for you…. to get your methylation humming. 

  1. Cruciferous veggies are rich in the epigenetic adaptogen sulforaphane. To increase cruciferous vegetables in your diet, choose from rocket, broccoli, bok choy, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, radish, rutabaga, wasabi, and watercress.
  2. Berries are high in many flavonoids including anthocyanins. Include berries such as blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. 
  3. Turmeric's active epigenetic adaptogen is curcumin. Combine turmeric with black pepper and a little fat in your cooking for better absorption.
  4. Spinach is a wonder source of folate and betaine as methyl donors. Saute or steam with lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil. 
  5. The main active constituents of rosemary is the methylation adaptogen rosmarinic acid. Fresh or dried rosemary makes a delicious addition to your cooking. I love tea with lemon & orange slices.
  6. Beetroot contains betaine, a master methyl donor. Go red or golden, roasted or grated in a salad. 

An adaptogen is a compound that promotes "balance" within a biochemical pathway & in this instance the pathway is DNA methylation. 

Of course mother nature doesn't hold back when handing out beneficial compounds, the action of these flavonoids are also anti-inflammatory & immune modulatory.

It doesn't have to be complicated, my throw it together lunch for today was brimming with methylation donors and adaptogens - not a supplement in sight! Spinach, roasted beetroot, broccoli, kale, cabbage, preserved lemons, hummus and seeds. Tea (that goes into a flask) is orange and lemon slices, fennel seeds, cardamom pods and fresh rosemary.

In health,