October 1st was International Seniors Day. What a great opportunity to emphasize, that for health longevity, it is not genetics the most important factor, but healthy lifestyle habits! Here is an analogy that will allow you to better understand this crucial subject in regards to preventative measures.

What is genetics?

Genetics is the science of genes: the science of what is encoded by the DNA of a living species. DNA forms the basis of genetic language; the letters and words that encode all the information essential to life. DNA codes the words that make up genes, which represent chapters in books. For example, the set of genes coding for the antioxidant defenses of cells constitutes a chapter of the great book on cell maintenance and upkeep. Geneticists study this information encoded in DNA and are thus librarians in life. Biological information specialists.

For the majority of people, DNA represents the ultimate truth: what dictates our chances of being healthy or our risks of disease. The truth is quite different, because our lifestyle influences the reading of our DNA. This is called epigenetics.

Since genes can either have a positive or a negative influence on our health, maybe it is enough to read only the positives? Or, to read the positives more often?

Know how to read!

Indeed, what is most important is not necessarily what is written in our DNA, but rather what is read and how often it is read. For example, for a person exercising regularly, the genes linked to the antioxidant defenses of cells will be read more regularly because physical activity generates greater demand which is maintained when the frequency of activity is sufficient.

In the same way, the majority of centenarians would have an amount equivalent to the average of the population of genes linked to the increased risk of diseases. Their healthy lifestyle habits would have protected them from the expression of these risks and therefore, kept them healthy longer. What is most important is not the presence of risk factor genes (negative genes), but rather the presence of positive factors or their expression in terms of lifestyle. An individual with a number of important risk factors can live a very long time if their positive factors are well expressed or read more frequently, as is the case with the antioxidant capacities of active individuals.

30 years separates us

A recent study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (Seattle), presented in the Lancet Public Health, reports the differences in biological age versus chronological age for people in different countries of the world. Biological age being the actual age observed based on the assessment of health status and chronic age being the age calculated from the year of birth. This study confirms wide variations in the healthy aging of individuals with 30 years separating countries with the highest average biological ages from those with the lowest biological ages. The study considers the reference age of 65 to be the age at which people begin to experience significant health problems.

Tips and recommendations

The Vitoli blog has been set up to provide quality information on all of the longevity factors associated with our lifestyle (www.vitoli.ca/en/blog). Three pharmacists, a doctor, a researcher in the field of aging, a nutritionist, a psychologist, a dentist, a mental healthcare specialist and a kinesiologist participate to cover the most relevant topics.

Please let us know about the topics that interest you.



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