What does your 'methylome' say about you? Predict aging and risk of disease with a simple blood test

Saturday, December 01, 2012 by: Katherine Leonard MS, NC
Tags: methylome, aging, epigenetics

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(NaturalNews) Ever wonder how old your body thinks it is? With new research pouring in about epigenetics and how the environment impacts your health and the health of your descendants, scientists are turning to the genome for more answers. The future of medicine is going to be patient-specific, and fully customized to the unique needs of each individual, and the process of methylation is providing new insights into discovering what differentiates one person from another.

DNA methylation is a fundamental biochemical process in which a methyl group is added or removed from the cytosine molecule in DNA. This action promotes or suppresses gene activity and expression. An individual's methylome, or the set of methylation markers across the entire genome, predictably varies over time. Measuring these bio markers in a blood test can provide a way to discern a person's biological age.

In a recent study, UCSD researchers measured more than 485,000 genome-wide methylation markers in blood samples of 656 people ranging in age from 19 to 101. Looking at the majority of these markers allows for an accurate prediction of age. As an individual gets older, the methylation process becomes weaker and does not function as efficiently compared to the same processes in a younger individual.

Researchers found that individual bodies age at varying rates. Even different organs within the same body showed distinctively separate methylation patterns. These findings provide insight into how the body ages and implies that there are lifestyle techniques that can prolong the methylation ability of the genome, thus promoting longevity and optimal health.

Things like eating organic whole foods, grass-fed meat, raw nuts and seeds, drinking green juices, exercising, participating in stress management techniques, and even taking supplements like probiotics and vitamins to restore balance and optimize health. Now researchers can look at the effects these lifestyle techniques have on the methylome, and hopefully make some new conclusions between daily choices and aging.

This is an exciting new field of research that shows great promise for helping healthcare practitioners identify areas of weakness in a patient and use their holistic healing modalities to correct those imbalances and foster a nourishing lifestyle to lead to ultimate wellness.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Katherine Leonard is a Holistic Nutritionist and naturopathic medical student with a passion for supporting people regain their health by reducing exposure to environmental toxins and transitioning to a nourishing and health-promoting lifestyle. Katherine has particular interest in helping women prepare their bodies for pregnancy. She has a master's degree in Holistic Nutrition and is currently enrolled in a 4-year doctorate degree in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University.

Katherine believes that optimal health is achieved through organic whole foods, a toxin-free environment, stress management, and physical activity. Her passion is to design personalized programs to help others live nourishing lifestyles.

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