There is no "magical longevity gene" in the way that most people think it exists.
Before going into specifics about longevity genes, it is important for you to understand that the belief that the diseases people get are caused by their genes is completely false. In fact every illness that humans acquire is a result of environmental factors, which also includes the internal environment of thoughts and emotions. The only exceptions are things such as downs syndrome or other genetic mutation disorders.
Conventional medicine is often astounded when a "miraculous recovery" occurs in someone with a terminal illness. This is a hint to us that anything can be overcome. That's the essence of this article, to empower you with the fact that you are in control of your health, not something nor someone else. You don't need a health gene or a longevity gene to live a lengthy human life-span.
This might seem harsh, or like an attempt to place "blame" on the parents or other factors. In reality it is actually the complete opposite. Obviously you can't blame the parents, unless they happen to be aware of this cutting edge longevity gene research and choose to ignore it. It is much worse to blame genetics as this leads to a mentality of "I'm not in control of my health, my genes are". This is incredibly disempowering and is a reason why so many people choose not to take an active role in their health. Increasing the human longevity potential as we know it greatly depends on this information getting out into the public at large.
A great way for me to illustrate how your health won't be affected from not having a special longevity gene, or any other gene for that matter, is by comparing your DNA to the blueprint for a house.
Imagine you have a beautiful plot of land you just purchased. If you stand in the spot where you want your house built and you throw some blueprints onto the ground, what happens? Absolutely nothing because a blueprint is just that, a map.
You need construction workers to build the house. If you give the worker in charge the blueprints, the house will be built as well as it can from what is readable in the instructions. However, at any point during the construction of the house you have the ability, as the one paying them to have the house built, to make changes to the blueprints.
Perhaps you want to add in an extra window in the master bedroom, or even add on a five story turret in the south-east corner. You might even change something after it's all been built! You just ask the workers to change it and they will accommodate you. Even ten years down the road you can do renovations on the house, replace a leaking roof or paint the walls a different colour if you so choose.
The point I am illustrating is that your genes can be turned on and off. Just like the person reading the blueprint can choose which directions they want to follow and which one's they want to ignore or change. It is environmental factors that turn a longevity gene on or off and decide whether you have a strong or weak constitution (strong constitution = those people who "never" get sick, weak constitution = those who are "always" sick).
If the person drawing up the blueprints was on drugs, the resulting instructions would be so sketched out that the house being built would almost surely have very poor structural integrity. In your body for example, if you are "high" on the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet, or junk food/animal product diet) your resulting blueprint/DNA is going to have all its bad qualities activated and you will likely become overweight, diabetic, have high cholesterol, develop cancer or some combination of all of the above. In short, any longevity genes you may have will be suppressed or "turned off".
If you are wanting the benefits of a longevity gene, and you have long lived people in your ancestry, that's still a good thing. But what I am illustrating for you is that that gene could be turned off if you choose to live a lifestyle that happens to "turn it off". On the other side of the equation, if you have inherited "bad genes", you will benefit from a lifestyle that happens to turn these genes off! This is why I am saying it doesn't really matter if you have an anti-aging gene or not.
Are you perhaps wanting some scientific proof that shows why you need not be concerned over not having a longevity gene?
Of course you do! If you're familiar with basic biology you'll know what a cell is and that the majority of cells have a nucleus which houses DNA (as well as your genes). Since it is generally believed that DNA controls every aspect of our life (some scientists even have the ridiculous notion as to categorize our personalities as being completely controlled by genes!), the nucleus which houses the DNA in cells is perceived as the "brain" of the cell by mainstream thought. The first thing I must point out however is that the nucleus is not the brain of the cell.
After the process of enucleation, where a biologist removes the nucleus of a cell for experimental purposes, a cell can live for weeks or even months without its genes! "If genes control everything then surely the cell can no longer survive though?" you might be thinking. But as it turns out the only abilities the cell loses after having its DNA removed are:
#1 It can no longer reproduce. A Cell divides to create a copy of itself. Without DNA it can no longer do this.
#2 A cell no longer has the map (DNA) to create the protein parts it requires to repair itself, which after several weeks or months (depending on the type of cell and the stresses it is put under) is the cause of the cells death.
These two purposes of the nucleus make it seem more like a reproductive organ than a brain!
As it turns out, the real mastermind of the cell is the membrane (phospholipid bilayer) or "skin" which is what it uses to interact with the surrounding environment. This membrane contains all the "sensory tools" a cell needs to perform its given tasks, such as absorbing nutrients from the blood, excreting waste or even turning on or off any longevity genes. Environmental signals cause cells to react as they should, even when they have no nucleus!
The actual process of how environmental signals trigger the "turning off" and "turning on" of a longevity gene (or any gene for that matter) in the DNA can be a fairly complex one. Inside the nucleus, the DNA (which appears as a double helix) is covered with a sleeve of regulatory proteins. A revolutionary new field in biology called epigenics (literally means "control above genes") studies these regulatory proteins. In the past, genetic research was conducted solely on the chromosomes (double helix) of the DNA. Scientists would literally open up the nucleus, take out the DNA and discard the regulatory proteins!
Going back to the "blueprint for building a house" metaphor, you can think of regulatory proteins as the equivalent of a large piece of tracing paper that is on top of the blueprint. At your will you can scribble out portions of the house you don't want or redesign portions you do want. The regulatory proteins cover and uncover the chromosomes at the will of environmental signals. You are the one that controls the environmental signals occurring in your life just like how you are in charge of the blueprint for the house.
Chromosomes can only be read when they are uncovered.
The other major function of DNA as I mentioned above is to create proteins to repair the cell. For example if colon cancer happened to run in your family and the DNA chromosome controlling this quality (usually there's multiple chromosomes involved in diseases, not just one, but we'll keep it simple) in the cells lining the wall of your large intestine are covered by the regulatory protein sleeve, you won't be getting colon cancer anytime soon.
If you're eating a diet that has many of the foods that have been proven to cause colon cancer, such as dairy, then when these "sorry excuses for nutrients" (a.k.a. environmental signals) enter the cells in your colon and interact with the DNA they will cause the regulatory protein "sleeve" to open up and expose the colon cancer gene which will then begin the growth of cancerous cells next time the cell divides.
As it turns out these regulatory proteins, which were altogether ignored until more recently, are perhaps the most important component of how you perceive the impact DNA has on your health and heredity. With the examples I've shown you (both metaphoric and scientific) you may now have a basic understanding of how our bodies and minds are actually a result of environmental influences and not some pre-programmed quasi-scientific "karma", which is what the fear of "inheriting" cancer could be comparable to. If you'd like to understand this topic in more depth, I highly recommend reading the book "The Biology Of Belief" by Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D.
Now, all of that being said, we do still inherit the genes (not the diseases) of previous family members whether they are "bad" genes or healthy longevity genes. What I am illustrating for you in this article is that we have the power of choice as to whether or not those genes are activated, just like I explained with the example of colon cancer. For another example, if heart disease "runs in your family", it's only because your family has continually engaged in poor lifestyle choices (such as consuming animal products). In turn, over the generations certain genes that you would have had that kept your heart healthy and strong have deteriorated to the point where the same bad habits you engage in cause heart disease with greater and greater regularity in your family.
Yes, that is something most doctors and media personalities don't talk about. "Why did the genes go bad in the first place?" Well, now you know, it all comes down to environmental factors. Just like in evolution, where an animal develops traits to help it cope with its environment (like horns, claws or fangs) we can regress (the opposite of evolve) if we surround ourselves with death, decay and chaos both in our internal and external environments. We can create longevity genes in ourselves as well as in our descendants by simply making the choice to do so.
So that was a pretty long introduction to get to where I will actually tell you about longevity genes!
It was important for me to clear up the pervasive misconception that genes and heredity control our health and constitution. When it comes to having an "anti-aging gene" in your families bloodline, it can be a very good thing of course, but for those who don't have this longevity gene, I wanted to show you that you have the same potential to live just as long. Like I said, the only difference is that if you have a lot of disease in your family, you have to be more careful and vigilant with cleaning up your lifestyle so that the "sleeve" keeps those "bad" genes inactivated. This can even result in genetic repair. Also, having a longevity gene does not mean you're invincible, as you can get diseases no one in your family has ever had before.
If you follow the path of personal excellence in all areas of your life, you will both fortify your longevity genes and prevent the causes of aging. This is one way you can take an active part in evolution and pass down an improved constitution to any generations that come from you! You can co-create a better species which will have a cascading effect on the entire planet, which will then benefit future generations immensely. This is a truly noble undertaking.
SIRT1 (Sirtuin 1) has been labeled as an important longevity gene. When activated it basically helps the body deal with stress very efficiently. It increases insulin sensitivity (which is the opposite of a diabetic who is insulin resistant) which lowers blood sugar and makes it available to the body as energy. This in turn also helps your body burn fat! When blood sugar consistently spikes from high glycemic foods it speeds up and is one of the major causes of aging at the cellular level.
If you think of a car driving down the road as your body in everyday life, when your body needs energy and you stop to eat, this is like filling up the car with gas. When you cause your blood sugar to spike past a certain point, this can be likened to filling up the car to full and then rolling down the back window of the car and proceeding to fill up the back seat with gasoline... This is not very productive and it causes more damage then good.
SIR2 is the enzyme (environmental signal) that activates the longevity gene SIRT1.
Wouldn't you like to know how you can get this SIR2 enzyme working in your body? Well according to the latest longevity research, there are two ways you can do that:
~Trans-Resveratrol: In nature, this antioxidant can be found in the skins and seeds of grapes (the darker in colour the more concentrated it is), in mulberries, Japanese knotweed and jungle peanuts (not regular peanuts) just to name a few. Red wine is constantly being mentioned these days for having a resveratrol content. Unfortunately it's usually fairly minimal due to the way wine is now produced when compared with the traditional production in southern France and parts of Italy.
These populations were at one time thought to have longevity genes, but as it turns out it is what they are drinking (and lifestyle), not what's in their past, that has helped life-span development in these parts of Europe. Sardinia wine (from Italy) has some of the highest concentrations of resveratrol of any red wine due to the extended period of time the grape skins and crushed seeds are left with the liquid in the maceration process. Resveratrol supplements are another source of this unique antioxidant. They are usually made of extracts from natural sources, but care should be taken to avoid anything synthetic.
~Calorie Restriction: Diet is often seen as one of the primary factors of longevity in humans. A simple and short way of explaining the correlation between longevity and low calorie diets, is that the less you eat the longer you live (as long as you don't go into a state of unnecessary catabolism, a.k.a. your body eating itself). Every longevity society seems to demonstrate this. When your body recognizes that food is scarce it begins to activate the SIR2 enzyme which then activates the anti-aging gene we're so keen on having turned on. This helps the body use energy the most efficiently possible. This is the only thing that is proven to promote the longevity gene by longevity research.
Cultures with long lived people pass down healthy habits along with their longevity genes.
An excellent demonstration of how longevity genes are activated by environmental factors in day to day life is by looking at the longevity society of Okinawa, an island off the southern Japanese mainland. They have the highest rates of longevity in humans out of any culture ever studied. The rate of centenarians in their culture is one in 2,000!
However a recent flood of fast food restaurants popping up on the large island has caused the younger generations to completely drop the old customs and healthy eating habits of their ancestors. Soaring rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease are causing those amazing longevity statistics to plummet. Magical longevity genes aren't saving them here!
We could assume that the amazing Okinawan longevity was due to some sort of anti-aging gene, but an abrupt change in the younger generation's lifestyle has shown that the population has very quickly developed the "diseases of affluence" which are now ravaging the developed world. We also see this happen when people from cultures that ate fairly traditional diets immigrate to richer countries and develop illnesses like cancer and heart disease which was unheard of in their country of origin or in their history of longevity genetics.
Around the early 1990's the authors Craig and Bradley Wilcox (twin brothers) interviewed the 105 year old Mr. Toku Oyakawa for their book "The Okinawa Program". At the time he had been living in Ontario Canada for about half a century. After he immigrated there he kept to his traditional diet that was nearly complete devoid of animal products (the Okinawans eat pork about once a year, Mr. Toku ate fish though) and it can be seen that it did him a world of good! Despite the drastically different climate, it turns out that his diet worked for him.
Many misguided health teachers will tell you that you must eat the diet that "fits" the region where you are living if you want the best health. For example in a colder climate they think it is necessary to eat a larger amount of fat and protein from animal sources since there are less plants. Clearly this is not true as the Okinawan diet is very low in fat and protein as well as animal products and it worked for Mr. Toku who moved to Canada yet maintained his traditional diet, even through winter months.
It is great to have longevity genes running in your family but it is not necessary for lifespan development according to anti-aging research. Lifestyle choices override and turn on or off genetic defects. This is excellent news for those who are willing to take control of their lives. It is bad news for those who would rather use their genes as a scapegoat to blame everything from their bald head to their grumpy personality. I have personally met and become friends with several men who were significantly bald several years ago, yet upon switching to a raw food diet containing many living foods they had their hair return. I might be starting to sound like a broken record at this point, but this is such a crucial point to understand.
"Genes are not destiny!" ~ Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.
My passion in life is to help inspire people to take control of their health and even develop an understanding of the true factors of longevity so they may apply them in their lives.
If you get longevity tips from a balding, white haired, overweight, pink faced guy in a lab-coat who happens to have a Ph.D. but also has cold extremities and needs to wear glasses... then perhaps you better examine where your health is actually headed. When I see false belief after false belief constantly being expounded by media sources as well as through word of mouth conversations, it disappoints me. Longevity genetics are in all of us just waiting to be activated.
I once heard someone say "I have longevity genes because my mom lived past the age of 90, so I can eat and do whatever I want." Here we have the entire field of biology which is moving along and making groundbreaking discoveries, yet because of the media's misunderstandings and seemingly western culture's need to avoid taking responsibility, people are not seeing the truth that our health is guided by environmental factors.
However, we are beginning to see changes. The scientists and academics are beginning to come out with this "new biology" in books and articles geared towards the public. Also with the advent of quantum physics, its applications to biology on a microcosmic level are just becoming unveiled!
The need to bypass the media with information has become necessary since they've developed ulterior motives and are generally focused on communicating news from a place of fear and dis-empowerment. (For example, the media constantly tries to report on the latest possible cancer "cure" that's just around the corner feeds the public's craving for that one-stop-magic-bullet-pill which is never going to exist and stops them from truly taking control of their lifestyle.) The internet is making this very possible. It is no coincidence that time and time again, true progress brings us to a place of empowerment where we can liberate ourselves.
The true secrets of longevity genetics is in your belief system
~"The Biology Of Belief" by Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D. (Hay House, 2008) ~"The China Study" by T.Colin Cambell Ph.D. (Benbella Books, 2006) ~"Blue Zones" by Daniel Buettner (National Geographic, 2009)