Having a faster rate of epigenetic aging, as measured by the epigenetic age metric, AgeAccelGrim, is associated with a significantly increased risk of death for all causes in a variety of cohorts, including the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, the InChianti study, the Jackson Heart Study (JHS), and collectively, when evaluated as a meta-analysis (Lu et al. 2019):
With the goal of minimizing disease risk and maximizing longevity, can epigenetic aging be slowed? Shown below is the correlation between dietary components with AgeAccelGrim. Dietary factors that were significantly associated (the column labelled, “p”) with a younger epigenetic age were carbohydrate intake, dairy, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. In contrast, dietary fat intake and red meat were associated with older epigenetic ages (Lu et al. 2019):
Note that dietary recall data as a means for identifying nutrient intake can be unreliable-a better measure of dietary intake is circulating biomarkers. Are there associations between circulating biomarkers of nutrient intake with epigenetic aging?
Higher blood levels of carotenoids, including lycopene, alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein+zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin were associated with a younger epigenetic age (Lu et al. 2019):
If your goal is optimal health and longevity, eating foods that are rich in these nutrients may be an important strategy for slowing epigenetic aging. Which foods contain these nutrients? Carotenoids are found almost exclusively in vegetables and fruits. For example, lycopene is enriched in watermelon and tomatoes, alpha- and beta-carotene is high in carrots, orange vegetables (sweet potato, squash, pumpkin) and greens, lutein+zeaxanthin is prevalent in greens, and beta-cryptoxanthin’s highest levels are found in butternut squash and red bell peppers.
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Nutrient composition data: https://reedir.arsnet.usda.gov/codesearchwebapp/(S(ujsr52ygvp0tw13m1luk0rny))/CodeSearch.aspx
Lu AT, Quach A, Wilson JG, Reiner AP, Aviv A, Raj K, Hou L, Baccarelli AA, Li Y, Stewart JD, Whitsel EA, Assimes TL, Ferrucci L, Horvath S. DNA methylation GrimAge strongly predicts lifespan and healthspan. Aging (Albany NY). 2019 Jan 21;11(2):303-327. doi: 10.18632/aging.101684.