Tag Archives: environment

Age vs. genetics: Which is more important for determining how we age?

Amid much speculation and research about how our genetics affect the way we age, a University of California, Berkeley, study now shows that individual differences in our DNA matter less as we get older and become prone to diseases of aging, such as diabetes and cancer.

In a study of the relative effects of genetics, aging and the environment on how some 20,000 human genes are expressed, the researchers found that aging and environment are far more important than genetic variation in affecting the expression profiles of many of our genes as we get older. The level at which genes are expressed — that is, ratcheted up or down in activity — determines everything from our hormone levels and metabolism to the mobilization of enzymes that repair the body.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“How do your genetics — what you got from your sperm donor and your egg donor and your evolutionary history — influence who you are, your phenotype, such as your height, your weight, whether or not you have heart disease?” said Peter Sudmant, UC Berkeley assistant professor of integrative biology and a member of the campus’s Center for Computational Biology. “There’s been a huge amount of work done in human genetics to understand how genes are turned on and off by human genetic variation. Our project came about by asking, ‘How is that influenced by an individual’s age?’ And the first result we found was that your genetics actually matter less the older you get.”

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Hunting in savanna-like landscapes may have poured jet fuel on brain evolution – Study

Ever wonder how land animals like humans evolved to become smarter than their aquatic ancestors? You can thank the ground you walk on.

Northwestern University researchers recently discovered that complex landscapes — dotted with trees, bushes, boulders and knolls — might have helped land-dwelling animals evolve higher intelligence than their aquatic ancestors.

Compared to the vast emptiness of open water, land is rife with obstacles and occlusions. By providing prey with spaces to hide and predators with cover for sneak attacks, the habitats possible on land may have helped give rise to planning strategies — rather than those based on habit — for many of those animals.

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Filed under brain function, brain health, environment, Healthy brain, predators

The Dark Side of Laws Banning Soft Drinks

Everyone knows that Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to cap soda servings at restaurants at 16 ounces was halted by the New York Supreme Court last week.

I have written numerous posts on the evils of soft drinks, both sugary and diet (chemical-laden). But, I think that people have to right to make up their own minds and if they want to drink these concoctions they should be able to despite the fact that the drinks are a major cause of the obesity problem plaguing this country.

This blog back in June came out against the ban. I have an entire page of posts on What’s Wrong With Soft Drinks?.

So, clearly I have mixed feelings about it, I oppose the drinks but support the rights of individuals to drink them.

I was very disappointed to learn that other opposition to the ban resulted not from concern about individual rights, but from generous gifts by the soft drink industry, Coca-Cola.

The NAACP joined the opposition to the ban, despite the fact the the obesity rate for African-Americans in New York City is higher than the city average. The New York Times said that “minority neighborhoods would be among the key beneficiaries of a rule that would limit the sale of super-size, calorie-laden beverages.”

Coca-Cola donated $100,000 to the NAACP as recently as December. Ironically, it was for Project H.E.L.P., (Healthy Eating, Lifestyle Change and Physical Activity), a program dedicated to promoting active and healthy living.

The Hispanic Federation also lists Coke as a donor. In February 2012, its president, Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, left the nonprofit group to become director of Latin Affairs at Coke.

It seems really disappointing to see these minority groups taking gifts from the soft drink industry and then supporting the industry in a situation that is clearly harmful to their members.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest CSPI, the soda industry’s generosity includes groups representing doctors, dentists, dieticians, anti-hunger advocates and others.

Sad to see this money possibly standing in the way of the war on obesity.


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Filed under Coca-Cola, diabetes, diet soda, fast food, fat kids, NAACP, soft drinks, water, Weight

Thanksgiving – Giving Thanks

thanks·giv·ing noun \thaŋ(k)s-ˈgi-viŋ also ˈthaŋ(k)s-ˌ\
1: the act of giving thanks 2: a prayer expressing gratitude (Merriam Webster)

The Thanksgiving Holiday tomorrow is uniquely American. Other countries have a similar celebration but not on the fourth Thursday of November.

I like Thanksgiving and wanted to start my celebration of it here on the blog.

I was riding my bicycle this morning and some of the things I have to be thankful for began rolling through my head and I wanted to share them with you.

This is a rare view of the Chicago skyline from behind the Adler Planetarium.

The thing I am most grateful for is my current state of superb health. I retired 12 years ago and think I currently enjoy the best health of my entire life. I can’t run as fast or jump as high as I did in my 20’s and 30’s but my general health, mental and physical, is the best ever. One of the main reasons for that wonderful health is co-writing this blog. And for that I am deeply grateful to John for suggesting we write a blog on diet and good health back in March of 2010. It’s funny how the blog has worked for me. It brought a health-oriented focus to my mind that has not wavered in nearly three years. So thanks, John, much appreciated.

Once we started writing the blog, I signed up for various courses from The Great Courses (formerly The Teaching Company). Three of the most valuable were Nutrition Made Clear, taught by Professor Roberta Anding, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at any Age, by Dr. Anthony Goodman, Montana State University and Cornell Medical College and Stress and Your Body by Professor Robert Sapolsky, a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient, Stanford University.

As you can see from their titles, information flowed from them through me to the blog. They added breadth and scope to our efforts.

What I learned from them has helped to reshape my life in the last three years as I put their lessons into daily practice.

Because of my good health, as a senior citizen, I daily have the blessing of being able to ride my bike and enjoy it with the same pleasure I did as a child. I mostly ride along Chicago’s beautiful lakefront. You can see one of the photos  from my ride today above. I also write a blog on my own called WillingWheeling which has the singular focus of the beautiful elements in my life. Feel free to take a look.

I shot the skyline of Chicago to share with you a view that very few people who actually live here ever see. It is from the eastern-most point behind the Adler Planetarium. Few Chicagoans even know there is anything behind that building. I ride my bike there often.

I am also grateful for this November to remember weather we are experiencing. Temperatures have been more than 10 degrees above normal this week. The 50 and 60 degree F temps are ideal cycling weather. I pedaled over 40 miles in today’s balmy air. Some call this Indian Summer.

My daughter and myself at her fashion show for the Wounded Warriors.

I am also grateful for my beautiful daughter, Kate, who has just been accepted into a university and offered a four year scholarship. I am very proud of her. The photo of us was taken at a fashion show she produced which raised several thousand dollars for the Wounded Warriors.

Last but not least, I am grateful for my little canine companion, Gabi, who I adopted six years ago and who makes me laugh every day of my life. I wrote the strange story of my adoption of her here.
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Filed under aging, biking, brain, Exercise, general well-being, happiness, healthy eating, men and healthy eating, men's health, stress, Weight