Biohacking

With many major diseases linked to chronic inflammation, persistent inflammation is our enemy. What is the answer? It is not found in our medicine cabinet or the pharmacy. The best way to reduce inflammation can be found in our refrigerator through proper nutrition. But what is inflammation? Could you benefit from promoting an anti-inflammatory diet? 

. . .

What is Inflammation

There are five cardinal signs of inflammation. One of the greatest medical writers, Aulus Cornelius Celsus described the first four of the main signs of inflammation as redness, heat, swelling, and pain. The fifth sign was later identified by Galen as a disturbance of function. Inflammation refers to the body’s immune system response to e.g., a foreign pathogen, injury, or infection. Our body’s inflammatory response is a remarkable protective part of our immune system. If you fall and scrape your skin, your immune system will release an army of white blood cells to immerse and protect the area which results in the visible redness and swelling commonly seen after an injury. When you have a cold the symptoms you experience such as a scratchy throat, sneezing, runny nose, are all by-products of inflammation as our body’s immune cell signaling to destroy virus particles. If you have ever experience green mucus, that is caused by myeloperoxidase, a green-colored protein that is found in infection-fighting white blood cells. It becomes green due to the white blood cell numbers increasing while you are sick (white blood cells are low in the early stages of inflammation) and therefore the amount of green myeloperoxidase increases ultimately changing the color of mucus.  So how can inflammation be bad?

Acute vs Chronic

Acute inflammation is obvious as it is a brief inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation on the other hand is another story that can lead to adverse health consequences. Simply put, your body is not designed to live in a state of chronic inflammation. When your body is in a chronic state of inflammation, your body is constantly under attack with your immune system on overdrive. This means that white blood cells that would go to an injured or infected area, may end up attacking healthy tissues and organs.

How so? Let’s say you carry visceral fat, which is the type of fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity near vital organs like the liver, stomach, intestines. This type of fat is considered “active” fat because it can actively increase your individual risk of disease. Visceral fat is a known link to metabolic disorders and inflammation. If you suffer from chronic inflammation, your white blood cells may perceive those visceral fat cells as a threat and begin to attack them. 

Prolonged State of Inflammation 

While inflammation is your body’s first line of defense, being in a prolonged state of inflammation can cause lasting damage. Let’s look at how inflammation plays a role in disease:

Alzheimer’s Disease: Anyone who has had a loved one with Alzheimer’s knows how terrible this disease is. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that destroys memory and affects many essential mental functions. While the exact answer is still unknown, Alzheimer’s is thought to be a result of an abnormal buildup of the proteins in and around brain cells specifically, the proteins called amyloid and tau. With many neurodegenerative disorders, chronic inflammation is a known core characteristic. Over the last decade, there have been studies show inflammation as a central mechanism in Alzheimer’s disease. Recent literature shows how inflammation accelerates Alzheimer’s disease pathologies as it exacerbates both amyloid and tau pathologies. 

Heart Attacks & Strokes: When we look at heart attacks and strokes, atherosclerosis is usually the culprit. Atherosclerosis refers to a build-up of cholesterol-rich plaque inside arteries. Recent research from Harvard recognized that chronic inflammation sparks atherosclerosis. When cholesterol-rich plaque inside arteries causes inflammatory cells to cover and obstruct flowing blood, this results in blood clots that obstruct blood flow to the heart or brain. An artery to the heart that is blocked results in a heart attack. A blocked artery in or leading to the brain results in an ischemic stroke. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): RA is a chronic inflammatory disorder that usually begins by causing pain in the joints of your hands and feet. This occurs because your body is in a state of chronic inflammation and mistakes your e.g., joints for a threat.

Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes is a complex multifaceted metabolic disorder that results in your blood glucose or blood sugar levels being too high. In type 2 diabetes, your body does not produce enough or insulin or cannot use the insulin it is producing effectively. It is common knowledge that obesity and inactivity are positively associated with the development of type 2 diabetes. Obesity and inactivity are also positively linked to chronic inflammation. Researchers have shown how an inflammatory state alters insulin’s action and drives the development of type 2 diabetes. The role of inflammation has generated interest to improve clinical outcomes with the control of the disease. Recent studies show how inflammation is linked to diabetes and targeting inflammatory pathways may prevent type 2 diabetes.

Is your lifestyle contributing to your inflammation?

Certain habitual lifestyle choices promote inflammation. For example, if you are not getting regular quality sleep, you may be contributing to inflammation. Sleep and our immune system are regulated by circadian rhythms. When we are not getting adequate sleep, we disrupt our circadian rhythm and subsequently, our immune system. Inactivity is also associated with a weakened immune system and inflammation. In a recent Harvard study, they show a molecular connection between exercise and inflammation. In this study, they put one group of laboratory mice with treadmills which resulted in mice running as much as six miles a night.  The second group of mice had no treadmills. At the end of the 6-week study, the mice in the group with the treadmills had substantially lower HSPC activity and level of inflammatory leukocytes than the group of sedentary mice. 

In a recent blog article, we discussed the role of vegetable oils and how they can contribute to inflammation.  A recent research study shows meal-induced inflammation plays role in chronic inflammation. Meal-induced inflammation is more common than we think due to the American diet being filled with ultra-processed foods. Processing is what changes food from its organic state. Ultra-processed foods are foods made with several industrial processes and ingredients that result in food being nothing like the original food (think strawberry cupcakes vs strawberries).  In general, ultra-processed foods are high in calories, fat, sugar, salt, and additives with little to no nutrients. What are some examples of inflammatory foods? Hint: They are the foods that we know to avoid regularly.

Examples of Inflammatory Foods:

  • Fried Foods
  • Soda 
  • Some Red Meat –Not all red meat is the same. It is important to look at how you eat red meat, the quality, and the quantity. 
  • Processed Meats – such as Hot Dogs, Sausage
  • Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) 
  • Added sugars
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Margarine
  • Alcohol

While foods can be inflammatory, there are so many food options that are anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, high quality, and delicious. Some great anti-inflammatory food options include:

  • Berries
  • Dark Leafy Greens
  • Nuts
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Chia Seeds
  • Ground Flax Seeds
  • Omega 3-Fatty Fish such as Wild Caught Salmon
  • Cruciferous Vegetables
  • Avocados
  • Peppers
  • Mushrooms

Chronic Inflammation is something you can see and feel but can be hard to detect clinically.  Our best offense towards chronic inflammation is an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Your comprehensive dietary patterns and lifestyle can promote longevity or an inflammatory response among many other undesirable health outcomes. In fact, the lifestyle factors Physicians warn against such as stress, sleep deprivation, inactivity, poor diet, smoking, are ALL contributory to inflammation. At the Institute for Human Optimization, we use food sensitivity testing and/or assess inflammatory markers to create a personalized approach to reduce inflammation as needed.

Anything with the term “vegetable” is commonly advertised as healthy or a healthy alternative to a food item we love. For a long time, Canola oil was considered by most as a healthy cooking oil option ultimately, being the oil of choice for most due to its versatility and price point. In recent years, canola oil’s health claims have been put in question. This has led to many of my patients asking me: What are the best fats to use at home?  

Currently, in the USA, the top 4 vegetable oils consumed regularly are soybean, canola, palm oil, and corn oil. These 4 oils are referred to as RBD which stands for refined, bleached, and deodorized oils, named after their manufacturing process. RBD oils are produced through a refining process by crushing the plant material to express the oil, commonly followed by treating the plant material with hexane, a petrochemical solvent, to extract the last bit of oil left in the plant material. Refined oils then go through various treatments. These treatments may include: using an earthen bleaching clay to reduce the color and smell of the oils by filtration, steam distillation, exposure to phosphoric acid, and more. Ultimately, the exact process will differ for each oil. Interestingly, when you compare Organic Virgin Coconut Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil(EVOO), vegetable oils are considerably cheaper.

Canola Oil Origins

Canola oil was originally bred from rapeseed cultivars of B. Napus and B.Rapa in Canada in the early 70s. There is no canola plant. Canola oil is made from crushed seeds from a variety of rapeseed, which are in the turnip family. The name canola is the combination of “Can” from Canada and “OLA” that stands for “Oil, low acid”. Originally, Canola oil had a different nutritional profile than what is currently accessible on the shelf of our grocery stores today. Traditionally, rapeseed oil contains almost 60% monounsaturated fats. However, two-thirds of that 60% is erucic acid. Erucic acid has a chain length of 22 carbon atoms with one double bond at the omega 9 position. Erucic acid consumed at high levels is very dangerous as animal studies have shown that its exposure leads to adverse heart health effects. As of 1956, the American FDA has banned rapeseed from the human food chain as a whole. Since the strain developed in Canada was considered low acid, it was granted GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the FDA, making its way to the United States in the 80s.

In 1995, a genetically engineered rapeseed was introduced to Canada to increase plant resistance to herbicides. This resulted in a genetically modified variety being developed a few short years later. Genetically modified crops are traditionally lab-made by combining the DNA of various species that cannot naturally reproduce together (think Salmon and Romaine Lettuce). In the case of Canola, this genetically modified variety is considered the most disease, herbicide, and drought-resistant canola variety to date. In fact, currently, around 90% of this Canadian variety is herbicide-resistant.

Concerns over GMO

Currently, in the United States, around 93% of the canola grown is from genetically modified seeds. Despite this, it is commonly considered a GMO-free product. There have been health and ethical concerns surrounding genetically engineered foods such as:

Impacts on traditional farming practices

GMO agricultural practices were originally developed to prevent crop and food loss. Unfortunately, this has also led to superweeds and resistant pests. This has forced farmers to have to utilize more labor and use more toxic chemicals to manage this. In an effort to combat this, there has been an overuse of glyphosate which hinders the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and adversely reduces the longevity and health of the soil. The overuse has resulted in several glyphosate-resistant weeds. 

Harm to human health

A group of scientists conducted a study where they fed rats a diet of GMO potatoes and reported after 10 days of feeding that every organ system was adversely affected. Several organizations have expressed concerns as introducing foreign genes that we would otherwise not have exposure to may hurt human health. Currently, scientists do not believe GMO foods present a risk to human health.

Threat to Genetic Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variability among living organisms. In farming, this includes plants’ genetic resources and is critical for the sustainable production of food. Additionally, genetic diversity helps us adapt to new conditions whether it be weather, disease, or pests, and aid ecosystems in acclimating to changing environments.

Unintended crossbreeding to non-modified crops

Generally, Crossbreeding occurs when you intentionally select a plant for specific traits and then transfer pollen from one plant to another. GM crops can crossbreed with non-modified crops by pollen. While many times unintended, pollen can be carried by the wind, by water, or even insects and cross-pollinate non-modified crops.

Potential allergic reactions

There have been many concerns regarding the allergenic potential of a genetically modified plant.  

-and more!

 Many countries have placed a total ban on GMO products.

So why is this touted as a healthy oil?

Canola oil is commonly marketed as a healthy oil and a healthy alternative to replacing saturated fats and trans-fat. The American Heart Association recommends using oils such as Canola as a substitute for butter, shortening, lard, and even coconut oil. Let’s look at the nutritional fatty acid composition of Canola Oil:

  • Saturated Fats: 7%
  • Monounsaturated Fats: 62%
  • Polyunsaturated Fats: 28% 
  • Trans Fat 1.9-3.6%

Canola oil is low in saturated fat at 7%, making it one of the cooking oils with the lowest amount of saturated fats. It is important to note that Canola oil has low (yet some) trans-fat content although it is commonly marketed as “zero grams trans-fat”. Despite this claim, all vegetable oils contain small amounts of trans-fat. However, the FDA allows a “zero grams trans-fat” claim for any serving size with less than >.5 grams of trans fat.

With the health industry promoting eating less fat, specifically saturated fat, I believe this has opened room for Canola to take center stage as the oil of choice for many. Critics for decades have associated saturated fats with increased heart disease-promoting a low-fat diet. Despite many health organizations pushing for a lower saturated fat diet, The Journal of the American College of Cardiology published an article that there is mounting evidence that saturated fats are not the issue in itself but of combining saturated fats with highly refined carbohydrate foods. Saturated fats are not all the same and it is a complex nutrient. We simply cannot compare grass-fed, organic, lean cuts of steak to a highly processed, cheap, low-quality, fast food burger. Additionally, it is important to note the difference between fat and fatty acids. Saturated fats as we have learned in the past few weeks are foods that are primarily lipids and solid at room temperature due to their structural property of fatty acids.

Alternative Fats 

Most of my patients prefer whole naturally occurring foods and prefer their oils to reflect that as well. Luckily, we have an array of options with oils.

– Quality EVOO: – Quality EVOO: Primarily made of oleic acid, a beneficial monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid that is linked to health benefits such as reduced inflammation and blood pressure levels. EVOO also contains oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol that have strong antioxidant, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective properties. EVOO is made from pure, cold-pressed olives. This makes it the least processed version of olive oil readily available. Since many antioxidants and vitamins are lost throughout the manufacturing process cold-pressed oils are considered better choices as their processing preserves their nutritional integrity. 

– Extra Virgin Coconut Oil: is unrefined coconut oil. We want to stick with unrefined oils as the refined process can strip the flavor and nutrients.

– Extra Virgin Avocado Oil: This is another great option and has a high smoke point (≥250°C). Additionally, the fatty acid profile is similar to that of olive oil and is primarily made up of oleic acid.

– Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Grapeseed Oils: High smoke point making it a better option for sautéing or stir-frying. High in vitamin e and phenolic antioxidants. Also, a rich source of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (70%). 

-and more!

One of the best things you can do is have a variety of oils in your pantry between higher monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and get creative. What are your favorite oils? Leave a comment below.

As we have learned throughout the Cell Membrane Series, Omega 3 (n-3) fatty acids are important in human nutrition. Specifically, because these are essential fats that the human body cannot make on its own. N-3 fatty acids are integral structural components of the cellular membranes of tissues throughout the human body necessary from conception and throughout the entirety of our lives. 

Most of us have heard the term “good fats” and “bad fats”. Not all fats are created equal and some even have anti-inflammatory properties while others have pro-inflammatory properties. “Bad fats” usually refer to omega-6 fatty acids that promote inflammation in the membrane phospholipids of cells. While inflammation plays a key role in the healing process, chronic inflammation contributes to tissue damage, aging, and disease. 

What makes essential fatty acids essential?

Fatty acids are the building blocks of the fat in our bodies and in the food we eat. While the human body can produce most of the fats it needs, it cannot produce Omega-3 fatty acids. This means that the body must obtain them through the foods we eat. In our last blog, we took a dive into N-3 Fatty acids which are necessary for cell growth and preservation, providing energy and forming important components of cell membranes. 

The three main omega-3s are 

  1. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) 
  2. docosahexaenoic acid (DHA
  3. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

EPA

Primarily found in seafood such as salmon, shrimp, and algae. EPA is used by the body to produce signaling molecules and play a role in anti-inflammatory processes. Prescription EPA is used to reduce triglyceride levels.

DHA

Similarly to EPA, it is also primarily found in seafood. DHA is an integral structural component of your skin and retina. The human retina is well known for its unique lipid profiles and not having sufficient fatty acids results in decreased vision and compromises the integrity of the retina. Additionally, studies have shown the impact that DHA has is protective against retinal diseases. DHA is also important for brain development. The developing brain needs sufficient DHA for optimal visual, cognitive development, and brain function.

ALA

ALA is the most commonly found omega-3 fatty acid in our diet. Several plants contain ALA such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. 

Omega 3s and Disease

Omega 3 fatty acids support and modulate numerous molecular and cellular mechanisms especially in the retina, brain, and in inflammatory reactions. Omega 3 fatty acids support molecules that perform critical signaling between cells. Omega 3 fatty acids modulate membrane fluidity that is essential for the proper functioning of the tissues in the retina, brain, etc. 

Coronary Disease

Large-scale epidemiologic studies suggest that people at risk for coronary heart disease can benefit from adding omega-3 fatty acids to their daily diet. How? 

Omega 3s reduce coronary heart disease by: 

  • decreasing risk for arrhythmias
  • decrease triglyceride and remnant lipoprotein levels.
  • decrease rate of growth of the atherosclerotic plaque.
  • (slightly) lower blood pressure.
  • reduce inflammatory responses
  • And more!

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that you get from food or supplements that help build and support a healthy body.  Fatty acids play a role in cardiovascular, neurologic, and other diseases due to their mechanisms at a cellular level. They’re key to the structure of every cell wall you have. They’re also an energy source and help keep your body working the way they should.

Disclaimer: Talk to your Physician before taking a supplement first. They may have specific recommendations or warnings, depending on your health and the other medicines you take.

More about The Institute for Human Optimization

At the Institute for Human Optimization, we are committed to helping you create a personalized plan for living your longest, healthiest life possible. My team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional analysis, and functional medicine to get to the root biological imbalances that cause aging.

The Institute for Human Optimization was created with the intention of pursuing a highly personalized approach to longevity medicine to help enhance healthspan. Where lifespan is the actual number of years we’re alive, healthspan is how many of those years are spent in health and wellness.

We believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

We know that each person is truly unique. From DNA to iris, we all possess a blueprint that is genetically inherited and environmentally influenced. By gaining a deeper appreciation for the person on a molecular level and addressing the root causes driving disease, we can help promote optimized health through our unique scientific, N of 1, approach to individualized care.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·   Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·   Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·   Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·   Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

I am so excited about the possibility to support you on this cutting-edge journey to extend your lifespan AND your healthspan. Click here to schedule Your Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult! Can’t wait to meet you!

As we continue our Cell Membrane Series, we will be discussions the building blocks of the fat in our bodies – Fatty acids. Fatty acids are necessary for cell growth and preservation, providing energy and forming important components of cell membranes.

Fatty acids are the building blocks of the fat in our bodies and in the food we eat. 

Fatty acids are long-chain hydrocarbons that can be separated into the following categories:

  1. saturated
  2. mono-unsaturated
  3. polyunsaturated
  4. trans fats

1) Saturated Fats 

A type of fat in which the fatty acid chains have all or predominantly single bonds between carbon molecules. The chain of carbon atoms are saturated with hydrogen atoms in these fatty acids makes these fats solid at room temperature. Examples include butter, lard, cream, cheese. 

2) Trans Fats

Trans fat are a form of unsaturated fat. While it can be naturally found in some meat and dairy, there is also Artificial Trans Fat. Artificial trans fat is created during hydrogenation, which converts liquid vegetable to make them solid at room temperature and more stable. Many studies have correlated trans fat to increased heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends reducing trans fat from your diet.

3) Monounsaturated Fats 

monounsaturated fats are simply fat molecules have a single carbon-to-carbon double bond, meaning two fewer hydrogen atoms than saturated fat and a bend at the double bond. Oils that contain monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature. Examples include: olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil and sesame oil. 

4) Polyunsaturated Fats 

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are fatty acids that contain two or more double bonds in its carbon chain. The two types of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which refers to the distance between the beginning of the carbon chain and the first double bond. Examples of Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods from plants like soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseed. Examples of Omega-6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. Omega 6 fats, when over consumed can be inflammatory to the body so having a balanced ratio between both and avoiding overconsumption of Omega 6 Fatty Acids is optimal. 

How do Fatty Acids work? 

During digestion, the body breaks down fat into fatty acids, this is so that it can then be absorbed into the blood. Fatty acid molecules are then connected together in groups of three, forming a molecule known as Triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat that are the most common type of fat found in your body. They come from foods, such as butters and oils but and also from other fats you eat.

Importance of Fatty Acids to Cell Membrane

Fatty acids have many important functions in the body, stored as triglycerides in an organism, are an important source of energy. If glucose isn’t readily available for energy, the body then uses fatty acids to fuel the cells instead.

If we recall from our earlier Cell Membrane blogs, cell membranes are primarily composed of lipids, specifically phospholipids and a few cholesterol molecules. Phospholipids are the lipids which have phosphate in their molecular structure. It is an important component of cell membrane. It is made up of two hydrophobic fatty acid tails and a hydrophilic head consisting of a phosphate group. The two constituents are joined by a glycerol molecule. Phospholipids are what support the cell membranes unique structure due to their hydrophobic (non-polar) tails and hydrophilic heads (polar). This means that heads of the molecules face outward and are attracted to water whereas the tails face inside away from the water allowing them to arrange themselves in a sphere form in aqueous solutions. 

Fatty acids are part of the lipid class, widespread in food and organisms, being an critical component of the membrane cell. They have important biological functions, structural and functional roles, and stored as triglycerides in an organism, are an important source of energy.

This blog highlights the importance of fatty acids in human health, both regarding on the physiology of human body, especially omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids become common ground to these pathologies. In the upcoming blog we will discuss how these fatty acids play a role in cardiovascular, neurologic, endocrinological, and other diseases due to their mechanisms at a cellular level.

More about The Institute for Human Optimization

At the Institute for Human Optimization, we are committed to helping you create a personalized plan for living your longest, healthiest life possible. My team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional analysis, and functional medicine to get to the root biological imbalances that cause aging.

The Institute for Human Optimization was created with the intention of pursuing a highly personalized approach to longevity medicine to help enhance healthspan. Where lifespan is the actual number of years we’re alive, healthspan is how many of those years are spent in health and wellness.

We believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

We know that each person is truly unique. From DNA to iris, we all possess a blueprint that is genetically inherited and environmentally influenced. By gaining a deeper appreciation for the person on a molecular level and addressing the root causes driving disease, we can help promote optimized health through our unique scientific, N of 1, approach to individualized care.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·   Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·   Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·   Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·   Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

I am so excited about the possibility to support you on this cutting-edge journey to extend your lifespan AND your healthspan. Click here to schedule Your Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult! Can’t wait to meet you!


What we eat applies on the cellular level directly to cell membranes. Proper nutrients provide the inputs so that our trillions of cells and cell membranes that are constantly signaling each other can properly function. Lacking these critical nutrients overwhelms our cells and their functions leaking material out of our bodies, this is also known as “leaky cells”.

This week, we are continuing our series on Cell Membrane. If you have followed along, you know that the Cell membrane creates a protective barrier that shields the outside elements from the internal components of the cell, organelles.

Cell membrane provides vital functions in the maintenance of cell activities including:

• They protect from toxic substance out of the cell

• Contain pathways that allow specific molecules to enter and leave the cell such as ions, nutrients, waste via transmembrane proteins.

• Separate vital metabolic processes conducted within little organs known as organelles.

• Communication

• Signal generation

Importance of Proper Nutrients

As we learned last week, all our cells have a cell membrane. Cell membrane creates a protective barrier that shields the outside elements from the internal components of the cell, organelles. Organelles have specific functions such as producing energy and controlling cell growth. For our organs and body systems to work at a functional level, that requires to have proper nutrients for optimal cellular performance. This means we need to consume an adequate number of phospholipids, cholesterol, amino acids, to support our cell membranes. Unfortunately, when we do not have enough of the necessary nutrients, our cells become “leaky”.

Leaky Cells

We have heard the term “leaky gut” which is caused by increased intestinal permeability when the gaps in the walls of your intestines loosen. This condition invites bacteria, toxins, and more to pass through your intestinal walls. This condition is linked to several health conditions and triggers inflammation, autoimmune disorders, and more.

Similarly, this can occur in our cell membranes too. When we are not consuming the adequate amount of phospholipids, cholesterol, amino acids that make proteins that deficit in conjunction with oxidative stress burdens our cell membrane on a cell level. This results in our cell membranes being unable to perform properly and making them unable to detoxify our cells. Luckily, we can take steps to optimize our cell membrane health.

How to Optimize Cell Membrane Health

Supporting our cell membrane health requires a nutrient-dense diet. A diet that is rich in processed oils, genetically modified foods, conventional high-fat dairy products will result in your cell membranes being composed of unhealthy fatty acids from those foods. Why isn’t this ideal?

All cells are contained by a cell membrane that is selective to desired components but protects it and acts as a protective barrier to undesired components, known as cell membrane permeability. When your cells are less permeable that reduces the ability for nutrients to reach our cells and for our cell membranes to properly function.

What foods will optimize cell membrane health?

-High-quality fats such as Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, and Avocado Oil

-Cruciferous vegetables

-Root Vegetables: Yams, Carrots, Turnips, Squash

-Fruit

-Whole Grains: Buckwheat, Brown Rice, Gluten Free Oats are great examples.

-Bioavailable animal protein: a protein that is easy for the body to digest, absorb, and make into other proteins

Ultimately, what you put into your body has a direct impact on your cellular function. However, so does the toxins and stressors we are exposed to daily. Other tips you can try at home include

Optimized Sleep: Making sure your sleep area is dark and cool. The best bedroom temperature for sleep varies from person to person but studies have shown it is around 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. Limiting your blue light exposure before bedtime also helps with sleep rhythms.

Stress Management: Stress is a part of everyday life but there are things we can do individually to manage it including daily exercise and relaxation techniques such as yoga, stretching, and meditation.

More about The Institute for Human Optimization

At the Institute for Human Optimization, we are committed to helping you create a personalized plan for living your longest, healthiest life possible. My team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional analysis, and functional medicine to get to the root biological imbalances that cause aging.

The Institute for Human Optimization was created with the intention of pursuing a highly personalized approach to longevity medicine to help enhance healthspan. Where lifespan is the actual number of years we’re alive, healthspan is how many of those years are spent in health and wellness.

We believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

We know that each person is truly unique. From DNA to iris, we all possess a blueprint that is genetically inherited and environmentally influenced. By gaining a deeper appreciation for the person on a molecular level and addressing the root causes driving disease, we can help promote optimized health through our unique scientific, N of 1, approach to individualized care.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·   Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·   Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·   Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·   Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

I am so excited about the possibility to support you on this cutting-edge journey to extend your lifespan AND your healthspan. Click here to schedule Your Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult! Can’t wait to meet you!

Our environment can drive disease or mitigate disease risk. As we look at medicine through the lens of a systems biology approach, most disease is a result of a complex interchange between genetic and environmental factors. 

.  .  .

The exposome is the sum of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health. This term originated by Dr. Wild in 2005 introduced the concept to create awareness of the need to look at environmental impacts in epidemiological studies. 

The exposome makes up of all exposures from conception to death.

There are three areas of the exposome

  1. Internal Factors
  2. Specific External actors
  3. General External Factors

There are studies that show that even from conception, there is a link between exposures throughout pregnancy and fetal growth. When we look at the skin exposome, there are various internal and external factors that show a clinical presentation of skin aging. 

There are various types of environmental exposures that influence our health and aging including but not limited to:

  • Air quality
  • Tobacco
  • Sun Radiation
  • Pollution
  • Stress
  • Nutrition
  • Sleep Quality
  • Temperature
  • Heavy Metals
  • Mold
  • Pesticides

Exposures are from our external environment as listed above but also are a result of our internal biological processes. Internal exposures rely on the omics of medicine. You can learn more about the omics of medicine with our blog series linked here. Utilizing omics data we can measure internal exposures and explore how the exposome is linked with disease.

Exposome and Cellular Ageing

If you recall, in our Hallmarks of Aging series, we discuss cellular senescence and its role in aging.  Studies have shown that environmental exposures influence telomere length which is an indicator of cellular aging. Telomeres are the caps at the ends of the strands of DNA called chromosomes, which house our genomes. Telomere shortening is one of the most recognized biomarkers of aging. As cells divide, oxidative stress is considered one of the main factors contributing to telomere shortening. By the exposome influencing the shortening of telomeres, which in turn accelerates the process of aging by affecting our biological pathways that result in health decline. 

Application of Exposome in Medicine

Exposome research is currently being developed to better understand an individual’s health, recommending therapies, and how they will respond to such therapy. This concept targets your individual conditions that influence your health. These exposures integrate your social science, environmental, occupational on a cumulative individual level. From a medical perspective, when we look at the microbiome, which plays a critical role on the exposome, that is unique to each individual due to the variability in bacterial diversity for various environments. 

As you can imagine, there are complex challenges in accurately measuring the exposome of an individual. Additionally, your exposome can change throughout your lifetime which makes its analysis a life-long assessment in theory. These concepts have led to an approach that integrates the exposome and the genome known as the exposome-genome paradigm. By analyzing an individual’s exposome and genome, now leads to better insight for disease prevention.

The biological impact of the exposome is improving our understanding of the connection between exposures and health to help mitigate adverse health outcomes across the lifespan. Genetics only accounts for about 10% of disease leaving the rest to be related to environmental causes.  Exposome information is a key step in precision medicine and precision environmental health monitoring. 

More about The Institute for Human Optimization

The Institute for Human Optimization we believe that Omics-based medicine and systems biology taking into account your exposome will realize a new approach to practicing medicine – personalize, predicative, and precise medicine. We are committed to helping you create a personalized plan for living your longest, healthiest life possible. My team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional analysis, and functional medicine to get to the root biological imbalances that cause aging.

The Institute for Human Optimization was created with the intention of pursuing a highly personalized approach to longevity medicine to help enhance healthspan. Where lifespan is the actual number of years we’re alive, healthspan is how many of those years are spent in health and wellness.

We believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

We know that each person is truly unique. From DNA to iris, we all possess a blueprint that is genetically inherited and environmentally influenced. By gaining a deeper appreciation for the person on a molecular level and addressing the root causes driving disease, we can help promote optimized health through our unique scientific, N of 1, approach to individualized care.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·   Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·   Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·   Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·   Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

I am so excited about the possibility to support you on this cutting-edge journey to extend your lifespan AND your healthspan. Click here to schedule Your Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult! Can’t wait to meet you!

A blueprint of a genetic “you”.

Our DNA determines an overwhelming amount of information about who we are, but other factors can also influence our health expression. Over the past few decades, the science and technology, and their applications in genomic have made breakthrough progress. Genomic data and genomic medicine services have become relevant in clinical applications as more and more clinicians use genomic data with the diagnosis and treatment of patients. How is genomics being used in medicine?

Let’s first start with answering: What is a Genomics?

In last week’s blog, we briefly discussed the Human Genome Project – a research project that successfully sequenced for the first time the entire human genome. This landmark effort was a breakthrough biomedical discovery in Genomics. Genomics is the study of your Genome, which is all your genes, including how your genes interact with each other and with your environment.

This is an exciting field in medicine as clinicians and researchers can analyze a genomics approach to understand the mechanisms of disease and work towards a preventative approach.

Clinical Application Difference between Genomics vs Genetics

Genomics refers to the study of your global genomic blueprint and how it orchestrates dynamic biochemical processes which influence your current state of health.

Genetics refers to a specific division of genomic medicine that focuses on rare disease findings associated with specific inherited gene mutations, inborn errors of metabolism.

The Institute for Human Optimization not focusing on the rare and obscure but translating your global genomic blueprint to self-decode and translate this information into actionable outcomes to harness your health potential.

Genomics in Medicine Today

Genomics allows providers to practice in a proactive care delivery mode. Modern genomics is being used in the following:

  • Prenatal Genetic Screening Tests
  • Cancer Research
  • Polygenic Risk Scores
  • Preimplantation diagnosis
  • Companion diagnostics for prescribed drugs
  • Epigenetics and gene regulation
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Looking at the patient’s exome

Prenatal Genetic Screening Tests: Widely used currently, clinicians use genomic data during first and second trimester Prenatal Genetic Screening Tests which looks at a very small amount of fetal DNA (done by a simple blood draw) which looks at whether the fetus has certain genetic disorders such as Sickle Cell Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, and more.

Cancer Research: Genome sequencing in Cancer is a clinical area where genomics is being heavily researched. By using genomic data, researched have a better understanding of the biology of cancer and are leveraging this to find new ways to treat the disease.  Additionally, utilizing genomic data is a promising step to predict cancer risk, prognosis, and precise response to treatment.  

Polygenic Risk Scores: Additionally, a potential clinical service tool is looking at Polygenic Risk Scores. Polygenic risk scores look at your polygenic genetic architecture to identify genetic variants associated with diseases. With an increasing amount of research correlating Polygenic risk scores with disease status, this information can be useful in clinical decisions with individuals at high genetic risk of disease for risk stratification

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: In Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, whole-genome sequencing of embryos prior to implantation is performed for pathogenic variation screening. This is used to prevent the transmission of known genetic diseases.

Companion Diagnostics for Prescribed Drugs: Companion diagnostics are medical devices that are used by clinicians to aid them in deciding which treatments and dosage to give specifically to that individual patient utilizing genomic insights. This medical device can be an in vitro diagnostic or an imagining tool that provides information needed to find a personalized treatment option by identifying what FDA-approved treatment options would be best suited for their individual case.

Epigenetics and Gene Regulation: the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences defines Epigenetics as ‘a rapidly growing area of science that focuses on the processes that help direct when individual genes are turned on or off.’ Epigenetic regulation of gene expression is at the forefront of modern Genomics currently being used to assess your Biological age.

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS): refers to a method used to sequence DNA. This method is currently used by Pediatricians for Genomic diagnosis of Pediatric disorders. It is also being used by Oncologists for Precision Oncology migrating cancer treatments to a precision medicine approach.

Exome Sequencing: also known as whole-exome sequencing looks at expressed genes to try to find a genetic cause for disease expression. This is a genomic technique that is clinically relevant as most genetic variants in genetic diseases are expressed in the exome.

The Future is a Precision Medicine Approach

Already, more and more individuals have taken the first steps to obtaining information about their genome by using Direct-to-Consumer DNA testing services. More and more, people want to know more about their genome, whether that means information about ancestry, or a more medically information trait of disease, this has sparked consumer interest in personalized information about our health, genealogy, and more.

We have the blueprints to a genetic “you” and scientists have figured out what each specific gene does itself when changed or removed but now understanding how all genes work together in synchrony, and most importantly how to best use genomic information to improve clinical care is still being established.

Despite these challenges, at the Institute for Human Optimization, we are currently utilizing advanced molecular testing to predict how genes are theoretically behaving by assessing their structural makeup and biochemical expressions.

More about The Institute for Human Optimization

The Institute for Human Optimization is committed to helping you create a personalized plan for living your longest, healthiest life possible. My team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional analysis, and functional medicine to get to the root biological imbalances that cause aging.

The Institute for Human Optimization was created with the intention of pursuing a highly personalized approach to longevity medicine to help enhance healthspan. Where lifespan is the actual number of years we’re alive, healthspan is how many of those years are spent in health and wellness.

We believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

We know that each person is truly unique. From DNA to iris, we all possess a blueprint that is genetically inherited and environmentally influenced. By gaining a deeper appreciation for the person on a molecular level and addressing the root causes driving disease, we can help promote optimized health through our unique scientific, N of 1, approach to individualized care.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·   Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·   Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·   Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·   Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

I am so excited about the possibility to support you on this cutting-edge journey to extend your lifespan AND your healthspan. Click here to schedule Your Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult! Can’t wait to meet you!

The advent of high-throughput technologies in the field of genomic sciences and systems biology has brought about a revolution in primary prevention.  From the early era of sequencing when short genomic reads were being characterized to the current era where the idea of personalized genomes has become a possibility, science has progressed tremendously. Omics refers to the review of specific types of medical information on a complete and comprehensive spectrum that ends in the suffix – omics. Omics-based medicine and systems biology will realize a new approach to practicing medicine – personalized, predictive, and precise medicine.

.  .  .

Human Genome Project- The beginning of a new era of personalized medicine

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was the first step toward personalized medicine when it completed the sequencing of the first complete human genome. Whole-genome sequencing refers to the entire genome (your complete set of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid) being sequenced. The HGP was led by an international team of researchers leading a scientific research effort to determine what parts make up human DNA, and also of mapping and identifying all of the human genes of the human genome. Despite recent technologies driving down the cost, it is still been expensive making it unfeasible for most to conduct individual genome sequencing. Recent advancements in technology resulted in a marked reduction in the cost thereby enabling personalized Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) which allows for the characterization of disease on a molecular level.

An even more promising alternative to the WGS is the whole-exome sequencing (WES) which permits the study of only the exonic or functional regions of the genome. This means instead of sequencing your complete set of DNA, you are only sequencing the protein-coding regions of genes in a genome. This technology is a fraction of the cost of WGS. WGS is a promising and cost-effective step towards the development of therapy tailored to individual needs.

Going beyond the genome: Exploring the other omics

Source: https://err.ersjournals.com/

Transcriptomics

Transcriptomics is the study of the transcriptome, or the entire RNA transcripts including the mRNA, non-coding RNA, and small RNAs, produced by the genome. The goal of transcriptomics is to detect which genes are expressed in the given sample. By collecting and comparing transcriptomes of different types of cells, clinicians can gain a deeper understanding of what makes a specific cell type, how that type of cell conventionally functions, and how changes in the regular level of gene activity contribute to disease.

Proteomics

Proteomics is the study of proteomes. A proteome is the entire set of proteins that are produced or modified by an organism. Proteomics provides important insights into our understanding of cell signaling, a key aspect of biological life. Cell signaling allows cells to perceive and respond to the extracellular environment allowing development, growth, immunity, and more!

The growth of proteomics has helped in providing insights on the data missing from transcriptome analysis. Proteome research is currently being used in the characterization of diseases like cancers, studying the effects of post-translational modification (chemical modifications that play a key role in functional proteomic), and biomarker discovery. Proteomic technology is extremely complex but new proteomics tools have enabled researchers to dive deeply into signaling networks, allowing them to find out information on interactions among key molecules.

Metabolomics

Metabolomics is the study of small molecules, commonly known as metabolites, within cells, biofluids, tissues, or organisms, produced as a consequence of the metabolic processes. These small molecules constitute the metabolome and their study provides insight into various biological pathways involved in common disorders. Further advancements in metabolomics will aid in disease risk assessment, diagnosis, and therapeutics. Profiling of individual metabolites can be very beneficial for biomarker discovery which in turn is useful for the early diagnosis of the diseases and for personalized therapeutic strategies.

Epigenomics

Epigenomics is the study of the complete set of epigenetic modifications on the genetic material of a cell, known as the epigenome. The epigenome consists of a multitude of chemical compounds that can tell the genome what to do. The genome is passed from parents to their children and from cells, when they divide, to their next generation. Much of the epigenome is reset when parents pass their genomes to their children; however, sometimes, can be inherited from generation to generation. Interestingly, lifestyle and environmental factors (such as lifestyle, diet, and disease) can expose a person to pressures that prompt chemical responses which result in changes to the epigenome throughout a person’s life. Epigenomics is a fascinating field as it is vital to better understand the human body and to improve human health. Emerging epigenomic map technology will facilitate better prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease.

Microbiomics

Microbiomics is the study of microbial cells – including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses that collectively constitute the microbiome. The human microbiome is the aggregate of all microbiota in a human body. A large body of research has demonstrated a strong association between the gut microbiome and disease. Microbes ( a microorganism) have been associated with neurological disorders ranging from degenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, and dementia) to mental health disorders (such as depression and anxiety) that are becoming, unfortunately, commonly diagnosed today. Microbiomics is a key component in personalized medicine as novel correlations between the human microbiome and health and disease are routinely emerging, furthering our quest for personalized medicine.

Pharmacogenomics

Pharmacogenomics assesses how individual genes affect drug interactions. It has been found that the same drug may produce variable effects on different individuals based on the differences in their genomic background. Genetic information could thereby assist in assigning drug doses to individuals based on their needs. It could also be very helpful in reducing the adverse effects associated with drugs.

Omics at a glance

Advantages

Omics testing is a very promising technology with a huge number of potential benefits. Capable of revolutionizing the healthcare and drastically improving health and lifestyle, this technology anticipates the development of personalized medicine.

In addition to its impact on patient care, it will also allow a deeper understanding of the disease pathogenesis, early diagnosis and intervention. Biomarker discovery is another potential advantage of Omics testing that will revolutionize diagnosis allowing us to delve deeper into disease risk factors and causes. Omics testing as a whole would be able to answer the problems arising from the complexity of the disease phenotype. Biomarker discovery is another potential advantage of omics testing providing useful signatures of disease. Pharmacogenomics will be relevant in clinical decisions about prescribing the best medication for you.

Future of Healthcare

Personalized Medicine has become the most modernized trend disrupting the healthcare industry in the most recent years. There has been a paradigm shift from ‘one-size -fits all” towards a precise and personalized approach.

The quest for personalized medicine has resulted in various advancements to achieve targeted care paths with a personalized multi-omics approach. With new technology, the interrelationships between the human genome, the microbiome, the metabolome, the proteome, the epigenome, the transcriptome, and other factors have shown to provide a better picture of our health journey, are just starting to be revealed. Researchers and clinicians have access to a new and thorough view of the molecular manifestation of diseases and with emerging technologies, can translate that into helpful advice that can be used in the prevention of diseases together with improved diagnostics and cure. In the future, Omics-data will utilize the patient’s individuality including their genetic make-up, lifestyle, and exposome which is defined as the “ totality of exposure individuals experience over their lives and how those exposures affect health. “ in decision making when it comes to disease management.

More about The Institute for Human Optimization

The Institute for Human Optimization we believe that Omics-based medicine and systems biology will realize a new approach to practicing medicine – personalize, predicative, and precise medicine. We are committed to helping you create a personalized plan for living your longest, healthiest life possible. My team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional analysis, and functional medicine to get to the root biological imbalances that cause aging.

The Institute for Human Optimization was created with the intention of pursuing a highly personalized approach to longevity medicine to help enhance healthspan. Where lifespan is the actual number of years we’re alive, healthspan is how many of those years are spent in health and wellness.

We believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

We know that each person is truly unique. From DNA to iris, we all possess a blueprint that is genetically inherited and environmentally influenced. By gaining a deeper appreciation for the person on a molecular level and addressing the root causes driving disease, we can help promote optimized health through our unique scientific, N of 1, approach to individualized care.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·   Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·   Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·   Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·   Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

I am so excited about the possibility to support you on this cutting-edge journey to extend your lifespan AND your healthspan. Click here to schedule Your Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult! Can’t wait to meet you!

As we age, cells show an increase in self-preserving signals that result in damage elsewhere in the body. Altered intercellular communication contributes to symptoms and diseases that are associated with declining health.

.  .  .

Today, we conclude our nine-part series on the Hallmarks of Aging. If you have followed along, you will find that each hallmark either directly or indirectly affects the other. (Start here if you’d like to start with the first hallmark.)

The first four hallmarks are considered primary since they are believed to be actual causes of aging and have a definitive negative effect on DNA. They are what first initiate cellular damage, which then leads to accumulation and progressive loss of function. They are:

·  Genomic instability

·  Telomere attrition

·  Epigenetic alterations

·  Loss of proteostasis

The next three are called antagonistic, as they ultimately respond to the damage caused by the primary hallmarks. However, they are initially designed to have protective factors. It is only when bodily conditions become chronic and/or aggravated that they contribute to cellular damage. They are:

·  Deregulated nutrient-sensing

·  Mitochondrial dysfunction

·  Cellular senescence

The last two hallmarks are thought to be integrative because they “directly affect tissue homeostasis and function.” These come into play once the accumulated damage caused by the primary and antagonistic hallmarks can no longer be stabilized. Once this happens, the functional decline is inevitable. They are:

·  Stem cell exhaustion

·  Altered intercellular communication

This week, we will cover the final hallmark: altered intercellular communication. The primary and antagonistic hallmarks each contribute to the variety of breakdowns in communication within and around our cells, thus the reason for altered intercellular communication is identified as one of the two integrative hallmarks.

Communication is everything

Our cells process millions of signals every day. Scientists have spent entire careers discovering how different signals and intercellular pathways work. It’s that important. When communication gets disrupted, it can allow disease to set in, such as cancer cells growing out of control. In fact, most diseases involve at least one breakdown in cell communication.

How a cell gives and receives messages with its environment and with itself is critical to its survival. It processes information from the outside, such as changes in temperature, variation in light levels, and availability of nutrients. It also communicates with other cells via chemical and mechanical signals, which cause alterations in their function.

Protein receptors embedded in the cell membrane connect membrane signals that affect the inner chemistry of the cell. This allows the direct passage of molecules between the internal and external compartments of the cell. All of this translates into how our cells adapt and change based on our environment and what our bodies need. This includes functions from gene expression and glucose regulation to our overall development.

Inflammation and aging don’t mix

As we age, the signals that send chemical messages across our bodies tend to become more inflammatory. This inhibits our immune system and can cause muscle wasting, bone loss, and other detrimental effects. This gradual increase of systemic inflammation in the body as we age is called inflammaging.

This consistent growth in inflammation leads to cells increasingly activating a chemical in their nuclei that regulate inflammation. This protein complex, called NF-kB, is involved in responses to heavy metals, free radicals, bacterial and viral antigens, and even stress. When it is over-produced, it leads to damaging consequences and becomes a significant risk factor as we age.

Cellular senescence, one of the antagonistic hallmarks of aging, is one of the main factors contributing to inflammaging. Senescent cells are known to negatively affect neighboring cells because they release pro-inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, and proteases that affect the function of nearby cells and incite local inflammation. This is a concept known as the bystander effect.

Inflammaging also hinders our immune system’s ability to effectively clear pathogens and dysfunctional cells, such as those that turn into cancer. This is known as immunosenescence. 

And as inflammatory reactions accumulate, neurohormonal signaling also becomes deregulated as we age. When NF-kB is activated in the hypothalamus, it has been shown to inhibit the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The reduction of this hormone can lead to skin degradation, muscle weakness, and bone fragility. It can also affect food intake and metabolism.

How to improve intercellular communication

Dietary/caloric restriction, mentioned in many of our blogs in this series, is one of the most studied ways to potentially restore, or at least improve communication between our cells as we age. As recently as February 2020, scientists in the US and China collaborated to study the cellular effects of a calorie-restricted diet.

“The primary discovery in the current study is that the increase in the inflammatory response during aging could be systematically repressed by caloric restriction,” says co-corresponding author Jing Qu, also a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Including more foods that are known to reduce inflammation, such as green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, berries, and olive oil can help to reduce the effects that inflammaging has on our bodies as we age. “A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving mood and overall quality of life,” Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, says.

Additionally, since the gut microbiome is an integral part of our immune system, it appears possible to extend healthy aging and lifespan by focusing on the health of our intestinal bacterial ecosystem.

What else can I do?

My best-selling book, The Longevity Equation, provides a step-by-step blueprint to hack your genes, optimize your health and master the art of existence. In my book, I take an in-depth look at aging, explore what it means to extend your healthspan, and outline the pathways and factors that lead to a lifelong solution to the burdens of aging.

In collaboration with TruDiagnostic™, I have developed The Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult. We are offering a revolutionary new way to access your health using an epigenetic test called TruAge™. This test will help tell you what your body is actually doing right now and what that means. 

TruAge™ works by using mathematical models and a powerful algorithm to measure DNA methylation-based biomarkers. Methylation is what modifies the function of the genes in the body by adding what’s called a methyl group to DNA, which is what signals genes to turn on or off. DNA methylation is the best indicator of age-related changes and is the best-studied biomarker of age. This comprehensive testing method determines your epigenetic, or biological age, and can detect the acceleration of aging before the signs of aging even begin to appear.

The Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult is intended to give you a snapshot of your biological age, as well as the lifestyle and environmental shifts you can make right away to start adding vitality and wellness into your life. Click here to schedule your consult!

More about The Institute for Human Optimization

The Institute for Human Optimization is committed to helping you create a personalized plan for living your longest, healthiest life possible. My team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional analysis, and functional medicine to get to the root biological imbalances that cause aging.

The Institute for Human Optimization was created with the intention of pursuing a highly personalized approach to longevity medicine to help enhance healthspan. Where lifespan is the actual number of years we’re alive, healthspan is how many of those years are spent in health and wellness.

We believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

We know that each person is truly unique. From DNA to iris, we all possess a blueprint that is genetically inherited and environmentally influenced. By gaining a deeper appreciation for the person on a molecular level and addressing the root causes driving disease, we can help promote optimized health through our unique scientific, N of 1, approach to individualized care.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·   Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·   Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·   Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·   Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.I am so excited about the possibility to support you on this cutting-edge journey to extend your lifespan AND your healthspan. Click here to schedule Your Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult! Can’t wait to meet you!
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Stem cells have exceptional abilities to self-renew and recreate functional tissues. When this regenerative potential begins to decline in our bodies, many researchers believe it is the defining moment when we begin to see age-related conditions manifest.

. . .

We have written about seven of the nine Hallmarks of Aging. The first four are considered primary since they are believed to be actual causes of aging and have a definitive negative effect on DNA. They are what first initiate cellular damage, which then leads to accumulation and progressive loss of function. They are:

·  Genomic instability

·  Telomere attrition

·  Epigenetic alterations

·  Loss of proteostasis

The next three are called antagonistic, as they ultimately respond to the damage caused by the primary hallmarks. However, they are initially designed to have protective factors. It is only when bodily conditions become chronic and/or aggravated that they contribute to cellular damage. They are:

·  Deregulated nutrient-sensing

·  Mitochondrial dysfunction

·  Cellular senescence

The last two hallmarks are thought to be integrative because they “directly affect tissue homeostasis and function.” These come into play once the accumulated damage caused by the primary and antagonistic hallmarks can no longer be stabilized. Once this happens, the functional decline is inevitable. They are:

·  Stem cell exhaustion

·  Altered cellular communication (more on this next week!)

This week, we will cover stem cell exhaustion. In one way or another, each primary and antagonistic hallmark of aging culminates in the diminished self-renewing capacity of stem cells, thus the reason it is identified as one of the two integrative hallmarks.

The marvel of stem cells

Your body comprises more than 200 cell types. Your liver cells are replaced every 300-500 days; your skin cells, every couple weeks; and your taste buds every 10 days or so. Your body continually manufactures new blood cells to replace old ones, and about 1 percent of the body’s blood cells must be replaced every day. White blood cells have the shortest life span, sometimes surviving just a few hours to a few days, while red blood cells can last up to 120 days or so.

Stem cells are the foundation for every organ and tissue in your body. While there are many types of stem cells, three are best known: embryonic, adult, and induced pluripotent.

Embryonic stem cells begin forming within five days after fertilization. They exist only in the earliest stages of development and are considered pluripotent, or undifferentiated, as they have the ability to give rise to every cell type in the fully formed body.

Adult stem cells, also known as somatic or tissue-specific stem cells, are multipotent, meaning they differentiate to yield the specialized cell types of the tissue or organ in which they reside, and may have defining morphological features and patterns of gene expression reflective of that tissue. These adult stem cells are responsible for repairing or replacing damaged tissue as we age or experience injury.

For therapeutic and research purposes, scientists are also able to generate induced pluripotent stem cells by re-introducing the signals that normally tell stem cells to stay as stem cells in the early embryo. These switch off any genes that tell the cell to be specialized, and switch on genes that tell the cell to be a stem cell.

Cells go through several stages while differentiating and become more specialized with each step. Signals secreted by other cells, physical contact with surrounding cells, and other molecules present in the body all contribute to the differentiation process.

Figure 1: An illustration showing different types of stem cell in the body. Image credit: Genome Research Limited

The effects of exhaustion

As we age, some of our adult stem cells repair and regenerate cells that have experienced wear and tear, injury or disease. They are not involved in normal tissue function, but remain quiescent – a state in which they do not divide, yet retain the ability to proliferate highly specialized cells specific to the organ and tissues where they reside. They are activated when the need arises. The unique ability of adult stem cells to maintain quiescence is crucial for life-long tissue homeostasis and regenerative capacity

The activation process of quiescent stem cells is very complex and requires precise reorganization to transition into a proliferative state, and it, unfortunately, declines over time. The consequences of stem cell exhaustion manifest in different ways, depending on the type of stem cell affected.

·  Hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cell (HSC) exhaustion results in anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, a group of blood disorders where stem cells do not mature into healthy blood cells.

·  Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are found in bone marrow. They are important for making and repairing skeletal tissues, such as cartilage, bone and the fat found in bone marrow. When they become exhausted, osteoporosis can set in, as well as decreased fracture repair.

·  Myosatellite cells, or muscle stem cell exhaustion shows up as hindered repair of muscle fibers.

·  Intestinal epithelial stem cells (IESCs) are one of the most rapidly renewing cell populations in the body. When these become exhausted, one might accurately guess that intestinal function will be negatively impacted.

Help is on the horizon

It is estimated that the number of adults older than 65 will reach upwards of 88.5 million by 2050.  With this staggering number in the forefront, it is more important than ever to find therapeutic interventions to improve stem cell function.

As mentioned above, induced pluripotent stem cells are being avidly researched in order to more thoroughly understand the potential they could have on healing. While it is an absolutely promising and likely option to look forward to, it has not been perfected yet.

This brings us to the point, as it has in each blog of this hallmarks of aging series, where we look at what we can do in the meantime. The most promising and recent research illustrates the connection between a fasting-mimicking diet and the body’s ability to regenerate stem cells.

USC researchers found that a fasting-mimicking diet reduced intestinal inflammation and increased intestinal stem cells, in part by promoting the expansion of beneficial gut microbiota. The research team observed that the fasting component allowed the intestines to heal, but that the specific, calorie-restricted diet allowed the microbes in the gut to flourish, which was crucial to the stem cells rebuilding and regenerating.

Valter Longo, the director of the USC Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences says, “This study for the first time combines two worlds of research. . .The first is about what you should eat every day, and many studies point to a diet rich in vegetables, nuts and olive oil. The second is fasting and its effects on inflammation, regeneration and aging.”

What else can I do?

My bestselling book, The Longevity Equation provides a step-by-step blueprint to hack your genes, optimize your health and master the art of existence. In my book, I take an in-depth look at aging, explore what it means to extend your healthspan, and outline the pathways and factors that lead to a lifelong solution to the burdens of aging.

In collaboration with TruDiagnostic™, I have developed The Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult. We are offering a revolutionary new way to access your health using an epigenetic test called TruAge™. This test will help tell you what your body is actually doing right now and what that means. 

TruAge™ works by using mathematical models and a powerful algorithm to measure DNA methylation-based biomarkers. Methylation is what modifies the function of the genes in the body by adding what’s called a methyl group to DNA, which is what signals genes to turn on or off. DNA methylation is the best indicator of age-related changes and is the best-studied biomarker of age. This comprehensive testing method determines your epigenetic, or biological age, and can detect the acceleration of aging before the signs of aging even begin to appear.

The Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult is intended to give you a snapshot of your biological age, as well as the lifestyle and environmental shifts you can make right away to start adding vitality and wellness into your life. Click here to schedule your consult!

More about The Institute for Human Optimization

The Institute for Human Optimization is committed to helping you create a personalized plan for living your longest, healthiest life possible. My team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional analysis, and functional medicine to get to the root biological imbalances that cause aging.

The Institute for Human Optimization was created with the intention of pursuing a highly personalized approach to longevity medicine to help enhance healthspan. Where lifespan is the actual number of years we’re alive, healthspan is how many of those years are spent in health and wellness.

We believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

We know that each person is truly unique. From DNA to iris, we all possess a blueprint that is genetically inherited and environmentally influenced. By gaining a deeper appreciation for the person on a molecular level and addressing the root causes driving disease, we can help promote optimized health through our unique scientific, N of 1, approach to individualized care.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·   Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·   Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·   Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·   Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.I am so excited about the possibility to support you on this cutting-edge journey to extend your lifespan AND your healthspan. Click here to schedule Your Longevity Equation Epigenetic Consult! Can’t wait to meet you!