Professor Cythnia Kenyon reached this conclusion by studying what it is about eat low calories but good nutrition that extends lifespan in animals. This kind of diet in known to switch on the anti-ageing sirtulin genes but what exactly is it about this kind of diet that switches the anti-ageing genes on? Professor Kenyon, who presented her work on the BBC world service and also in a feature in the Daily Mail, found that, by dampening down one gene that's involved in making insulin she could massively increase the lifespan of worms. She then discovered that a low calorie diets changes the way two crucial genes behaved, says Jerome Burne (co-author of 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing).
It turned down the gene that controls insulin, which in turn switched on another gene, which acted like an elixir of life. ‘We jokingly called the first gene the Grim Reaper because when it’s switched on, the lifespan is fairly short,’ she explains. The second ‘elixir’ gene seems to bring all the anti-ageing benefits — its proper name is DAF 16, but it was quickly nicknamed ‘Sweet Sixteen’ because it turned the worms into teenagers. ‘It sends out instructions to a whole range of repair and renovation genes,’ says Professor Kenyon.‘Your supply of natural antioxidants goes up, damping down damaging free radicals.’ These are the compounds produced by our body and the environment, which are linked to a host of diseases from cancer to Alzheimer’s.
The Sweet Sixteen gene also ‘boosts compounds that make sure the skin and muscle-building proteins are working properly, the the immune system becomes more active to fight infection and genes that are active in cancer get turned off,’she adds. Discovering the Grim Reaper gene has prompted the professor to dramatically alter her own diet, cutting right back on carbohydrates. That’s because carbs make your body produce more insulin. My Low GL Diet is specifically designed to reduce your need to produce insulin. This is achieved both by eating less carbs, but also by eating low GL carbs, and always with protein. Soluble fibres such as those found in oats and chia seeds, further control insulin levels. I also recommend supplementing the mineral chromium which increases insulin binding, increases the number of insulin receptors and also increases insulin effectiveness, all of which means you make less insulin.
Also, by being low in dairy products this means the body makes less insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), excess of which is associated with the plethora of modern day diseases. While this finding will no doubt stimulate drug research designed to manipulate anti-ageing genes you can manipulate your own genes by eating a low GL diet. This is one of the key factors in our Anti-Ageing diet explained in full in 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing. I'll be talking more about how to imporve your genetic hand in my nationwide Healthy Ageing Seminars.