Inflammation, Epigenetics, and AgingPosted on Wednesday, April, 18th, 2012 by in Aging | Boosting Immune Responses (Pro-Inflammatory) | Cancer | Chronic Disease | Diabetes | Exercise | Immune Homeostasis (Immune Balance) | Inflammation | Obesity
The concept of epigenetics was first introduced in the 1940s, and its implications on how we modulate inflammation through its processes are intriguing and exciting.
For most of my scientific career, we were taught that biological processes of the body were pre-determined by genes. It was said that DNA’s message was set-in-stone, and except through mutations which might result in cancer, or mutations and recombinations of genetic material that were handed down from one generation to another, the message encoded by DNA was unchanging.
Accumulating evidence suggests that altering our diet, life style, and environment, significantly influences gene expression; the way that the body translates the DNA message. We can change the affect our genes have on our physiological and emotional well-being.
It never ceases to amaze me that the medical profession writes off conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, cancer, strokes, Alzheimer’s etc. as being the result of “aging”; basically, saying to their patient, “you have to live with it because you are getting old”.
Instead, health practitioners might better focus on the fact that imbalances of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses contribute to health issues. Directing the emphasis on life style changes would enable individuals to take steps towards breaking the inflammation cycle, literally affecting the DNA message, and the resulting quality of their lives.
There are simple approaches that help maintain immune balance, immune homeostasis. Two such changes are: limiting the size of fat cells, and exercise. Fat cells, especially around our abdominal area, produce large amounts of pro-inflammatory cytokines, that trigger inappropriate levels of inflammation.
Exercise is a way to neutralize these molecules since contracting our muscles releases potent anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Additionally, the daily consumption of two or more servings of hyperimmune egg can go a long way toward supporting the body’s natural immune-rebalancing attempts.
In the controversy of genes vs. nurture, we now know that it is a combination of both that makes the difference. We can help regulate what our genes “say” by how we choose to live our lives.