Achieving longevity requires balance: Scientists have discovered how human cells age
02/21/2019 // Rita Winters // Views

Scientists now believe they have found the ever-elusive "fountain of youth" -- but not in some mystical outside source but in our actual bodies. Just this month, scientists at the University of California San Diego began to understand cell aging. Using a combination of biology, computer science, and engineering, they were able to analyze the molecular processes that influence time-based aging in cells. These scientists discovered that chromatin silencing leads to accelerated aging, and complete loss of chromatin silencing does the same thing.

To understand this better, let's define a couple of things:

  • Aging is the result of damaged DNA – When cells age, our DNA accumulates damage over time. Damage to the DNA results in a decay of normal functions, and consequently, death.
  • Chromatin silencing – This is a natural biochemical process that protects the DNA from damage. Protection happens when specific regions of DNA are converted into a closed state from an open state, which then shields the DNA regions from damage. The absence of chromatin silencing then turns these DNA regions into an open state.

From this, we can assume that having “closed” DNA will result in a longer life. However, continuous chromatin silencing will also shorten our lifespans, and thus result in an earlier death. Chromatin silencing stops the protected regions of DNA from releasing RNAs and proteins that carry out natural biological functions. Excessive chromatin silencing, as mentioned above, can contribute to an abnormal cell psychology.


It would appear that nature has already provided a solution to this dilemma. Cells switch these DNA regions between the open state and closed state on a maintained time-based balance. By doing so, cells avoid a prolonged duration in either state. Cell switching allows us to live long, healthy lives. As humans grow old, the cells lose their capacity to maintain this time-based switching, which then results in observable age-related signs such as loss of hair and loss of skin elasticity.

If scientists and other researchers find a way to reinforce the switching, aging can be slowed down. Some studies show that sirtuin-activating compounds can help prevent age-related diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes, and obesity. Sirtuins are a class of proteins that regulate important biological paths in bacteria, and in humans. They are also known as “housekeeping genes” that regulate functions in the cellular and metabolic level. These proteins can be found in everyday food, as listed below.

  • Blackcurrants – These berries have high vitamin C and antioxidant content. Blackcurrants help you maintain a health digestive system, and are beneficial for patients with type-2 diabetes.
  • Green tea – Popular worldwide, green tea contains a lot of polyphenols that reduce the effects of free radicals on the body's cells. As an antioxidant, it helps reduce the risk of cancer, bowel diseases, and other tumor-based illnesses.
  • Dark chocolate – These delicious treats contain lots of flavonoids and catechins, substances which are classified as antioxidants. Dark chocolate helps improve blood flow, and has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties.
  • Kale – These are an excellent source of glucosinolates, and have compounds and properties that fight cancer. They also help keep the heart healthy.
  • Olives – These lower high blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Olives have oleic acid that help inhibit the growth of factor receptors that cause development of breast cancer.
  • ParsleyParsley contains myricetin that helps prevent skin cancer. They also help fight the effects of carcinogens from grilled food. This wondrous herb likewise helps reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Capers – These flower buds help improve eyesight due to its high vitamin A content, and are a rich source of fiber.
  • Onions – These prevent illnesses like colds, flu, pneumonia, and inflammation. Their high sulfur content also possess natural anti-clotting properties and help suppress clumping from platelets.
  • Turmeric – These roots provide improved insulin sensitivity, decreased body weight, and increased metabolic rate. This superfood also prevents plaque buildup in the arteries.
  • Fish oil – Containing a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil helps reduce development of heart diseases. Fish oil also helps mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and sadness.

Scientific studies on human health are seeing the importance of how good nutrition promotes better well-being and health management. If healthy food can help manage mental disorders and diseases, it should be the solution to having a longer life expectancy as well. The food you choose will literally reward you with wellness (or illness) that lasts a lifetime.

Sources include:

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