Is your age just a number? Or rather two?

Is your age just a number? Or rather two?

Counting from the time we were born: 1 day, 1 month, 3 years, 11 years, 25 years, 36 years… old. Our calendar or chronological age is just a number over which we have no control. Many people feel older or younger than their chronological age, but how old are we? How old does our body and cells “feel”?

Life cycle by rambleron from vecteezy.com
Chronological vs biological age

Aging is a natural process, that is regulated by several factors. Not only genetics plays an important role but also external factors such as diet, habits and environmental factors can lead to an accelerated or slowed down aging. Consequently, your biological age can differ from your chronological age. This difference is decisive for life quality and life span. The biological age is a better indicator how vital and fit we actually are and can predict the risk for age related diseases more accurately.

But how can the biological age actually be measured?

A good indication for our biological age is the telomere length. Telomeres are repetitive sequences located on the ends of the chromosomes and have protective effect for the DNA. Think of telomeres as the hard plastic at the end of your shoelaces that keeps them from fraying. The telomeres become shorter with each cell division until the cell can no longer divide and stops functioning. However, this normal physiological process of aging is strongly influenced by our lifestyle and studies have shown that phytochemicals can slow down telomere shortening.

Cell and chromosome structure by Graphics RF from vecteezy.com

 

However, there are further aging mechanisms, that can not only be explained by telomere length but be epigenetically regulated. The epigenetic age includes additional aspects of the aging process and should be considered along with telomere length if the biological age is determined. The methylation of certain locations on our DNA provides information about cellular modifications and reflects our lifestyle and therefore biological aging processes.

In contrast to the chronological age, you can influence your biological age and even decrease it to rejuvenate your body. Generally accepted: healthy diet, more physical activity, less stress, no smoking and enough sleep.

DNA science by khan.zein554159 from vecteezy.com

Test your biological age now with our Healthy Aging Panel! In addition to your telomere length, you will learn more about your epigenetic markers of inflammation and aging and get tips on how you can even improve your biological age.

We are more than our genes

We are more than our genes

Epigenetics simply explained

Genes and genetics are now terms that almost everyone knows. But have you heard about epigenetics so far?

We – humans, but also every being, from the smallest plant to the largest animal, consist of cells. In these cells is the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which is divided into information-rich sections – our genes.

Human DNA by Graphics RF from vecteezy.com

If you think about our DNA as a kind of library, your genes are like different books. Have you ever thought about to read every single book of a library? How much energy and time would it cost? Now imagine, a friend of yours helping you to find these books that are interesting for you, so you do not have to search on your own.

This friend is the epigenetics, that determines which books are available in the bookshelf of our library and which are hidden in the archive.

It is similar in the cell – the human being has more than 200 types of cells, and nearly every cell contains the same DNA sequence. But not all the genes are active in each cell, because this would be energy-wasting for the cell.

That is why, only genes that are needed are switched on (the books on the shelves). The rest is targeted silenced through chemical marking (and therefore stand in the archive). Epigenetics acts as a part of a control mechanism that decides, when which gene is switched on and when it is switched off again and is therefore considered the link between environmental influences and genes.

 

Woman librarian by JustCallMeAcar from vecteezy.com

 

This is how we can react to environmental changes, although the DNA does not change itself. Not only we can adapt to environment easier, but we can also influence how our genes are regulated, this is possible, for example, through nutrition.

Pointing to Monozygotic twins – which are genetically identical and hardly differ from each other when young. Nevertheless, the older they get, the more epigenetic differences they have. This mainly happens through various types of diet and lifestyle.

Genes can influence the intake or the metabolism of food, but we can in turn also have an indirect impact on our genes through epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation and micro RNA. Therefore, we also should look at genetics and epigenetics in connection.

DNA methylation can be imagined as a light switch with dimming function. A methyl group binds on the DNA and switches it off. Several studies have shown, there are some interesting locations on the DNA with different numbers of methyl groups through which, depending on how many methyl groups are present, the light, meaning the gene signal, is stronger or weaker. Genes are regulated through these mechanisms, that are associated with aging, inflammation, metabolism and diseases. A higher DNA methylation of the gene LINE-1 indicates a more stable DNA and younger cells and can be achieved through a healthy diet and lifestyle. In addition to LINE-1 as an example for an epigenetic biomarker there are many more.

If our genes tell us to store more fat, that does not matter because we are more than just our genes. Because we can use epigenetic mechanisms to control many of our genes and turn off the “bad genes” while we turn up the “good genes“. Furthermore, epigenetic biomarkers can help us in prevention and early detection of some diseases.

Our Metabolic Health Panel provides you not only with informations about your genetic predisposition to metabolize food but also your epigenetics.

Genes and environment by Graphics RF from vecteezy.com

Micro RNAs are a further possibility to indirectly influence our genes. You can find them in every body fluid having diverse regulatory tasks throughout the organism. They are involved in several biological processes and are therefore also suitable as biomarker. Micro RNAs can give more detailed information what is happening in our body. They can be affected through diet and sport, but also chronical and acute stress can have an impact. These changes can be measured in the blood relatively early on, even before (e.g., stress-related) symptoms have developed.

Determine your cellular stress level now using our Stress Monitor Panel! After analyzing your microRNA, you will receive a report of your physiological stress level and the risk of long-term effects. In addition, we support you in reducing stress with personalized recommendations.

 

Your Genes – your metabolic type

Your Genes – your metabolic type

Your genes – your metabolic type?

The intake of nutrients influences our body composition, our weight but also our metabolism, which is also regulated by several biochemical processes that are involved e.g., in energy production from food. Why can the same diet of different people lead to different consequences such as weight loss or weight gain?

Woman Having Diet in the Kitchen by scarletnyt from vecteezy.com

Small genetic differences between people ensure that each of us has an individual digestion and that the same food is metabolized more or less well.

Some people can tolerate a high-fat diet without gaining weight easily whereas an increased fat intake can lead to overweight more easily in others.

Partially, this is explainable due to certain variants of genes, for example SNPs where only one single nuclear base is changed.

A higher fat intake in people carrying a SNP in the FTO gene can lead to an BMI increased by an average of 0.4 kg/m² compared to people without this mutation. Variants of the Melanocortin-4-receptor (MC4R), a stress transmitter-activating gene, is also associated with eating habits. Carrier of the risk SNP show a significantly higher intake of processed food, as well as a higher risk for obesity and stress.

Diagram of a SNP by J Ashes from vecteezy.com

Several SNPs have influence on our metabolism and therefore on the risk of certain diseases. Depending on genetic disposition there are differences in the need of fat, protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. These SNPs can only explain a small part of metabolic characteristics. For that reason, it is important to consider epigenetic aspects such as regulation of enzymes through DNA methylation or micro RNAs. They could even predict the success of a weight loss.

With increased knowledge about the interactions between our genes, diet and environmental influences it is possible to divide people into metabolic types. A personalized recommendation of diet and lifestyle, tailored to (epi)genetics helps with weight loss or maintenance and can prevent certain diet-related diseases.

Woman Doing a Balance Diet by zul fikri from vecteezy.com

 

Find out your metabolic type with our Metabolic Health Panel today! In addition, you can know your sport type and experience how sport affects your weight and much more.

Influence of training – Modifications in the cell

Influence of training – Modifications in the cell

Effects of endurance and strength sports on mitochondria and healthy aging

Certain reactions caused by training are dependent on the type of training. Endurance training activates mechanisms, that are not only important for formation of new mitochondria but also play a role in the energy metabolism.

However, strength training is mainly involved in the biosynthesis of proteins and cell growth.

Recent studies of HealthBioCare in cooperation with the University of Vienna show, that a few drops of finger blood are sufficient to measure the influence of sport on health. Epigenetic biomarkers provide information about alterations in the cell induced by exercising and diet. To learn more about the topic visit the science update of VEÖ (Association of Nutritional Sciences in Austria) or read in the original publication in the MDPI Journal.