Date: 16 September 2022

Epigenetics & Ageing

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Epigenetic changes mean that diet not only has a direct impact on our health, but also on the health of our future children.

Epigenetics studies all elements, such as emotions, stress management, lifestyle habits or the environment in which we live, that are capable of activating or deactivating certain genes without modifying the DNA sequence.
As Vicente Mera, head of the Genomic Medicine and Healthy Ageing Unit at SHA Wellness Clinic, comments, ‘although epigenetics is a very young discipline and we still do not know about many of the factors involved, we do know that diet is one of the most important ones’.

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To better understand how diet interacts with our genetic material, Dr Mera gives a practical example: ‘The Japanese have a very healthy diet, but also a very particular one because it has hardly changed over time. That is one of the reasons, and it is no coincidence, that Japan is the country with the highest life expectancy in the world.
To understand how diet changes our genes, we will cite a study of a community of about 5,000 Japanese people who, after the Second World War, stayed in Düsseldorf. Over the years, they adapted to their new environment and changed both their nutritional pattern and their lifestyle. In the German city, given they did not have access to the healthy foods they usually ate in their home country, such as miso soup or daikon, they replaced them with local products. As a result, the second and third generations of these Japanese people were becoming overweight, and their life expectancy had decreased. This being said, some epigenetic changes, positive or negative, are passed on to our offspring’.

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Our body composition is written in our genes, but it is up to us to modify it through our diet. As Vicente explains, ‘overweight people tend to come from families with a predisposition to obesity. However, this genetic tendency can be reversed with a healthy and balanced diet. In fact, we know that certain foodshave a high potential for epigenetic transformation and can prevent processes that accelerate cellular senescence, such as oxidation and glycation, or improve autophagy’. It is very striking that previous generations, despite not having the information and knowledge we have now, ate healthier than they do today.

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‘We have spoiled much of the epigenetics that our grandparents passed on to us. They ate a lot of fresh produce, and the basis of their diet was the Mediterranean diet, which is very rich in fibre. Today, on the other hand, most people abuse ultra-processed food, which is leading to an increase in people with digestive problems or who develop food intolerances, such as gluten or lactose intolerance. The big problem with 21st century society is that we have so many things to do throughout the day that we barely have time to think about food. It is quicker to microwave a ready-made dish than to make a lentil stew. Subsequently, this ends up having an impact on our health. Yet, we can’t try to live like we used to because today’s lifestyle is completely different.
That’s why we must find a balance, think in the mid and long term, try to go to the market, and cook healthy and, if possible, seasonal food at home. In short, dedicating time to healthy eating is not only a philosophy of life, but also an investment in our health and that of our future children,’ concludes the doctor.

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The SHA Method

SHA was born as a result of the personal experience of someone who, after suffering from health problems for more than thirty years, recovered his quality of life thanks to an adequate diet, a variety of natural therapies and the latest advances in western medicine. The perfect combination for optimealth offered at SHA Wellness Clinics

That’s why we must find a balance, think in the mid and long term, try to go to the market, and cook healthy and, if possible, seasonal food at home. In short, dedicating time to healthy eating is not only a philosophy of life, but also an investment in our health and that of our future children,’ concludes the doctor.

Discover more about SHA Wellness Clinics HERE.
Written by SHA Wellness

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