The “Sweet-Sixteen” Gene

Extraordinary new research has led to some breakthroughs in our understanding of how we age.  It was once thought that ageing was simply a passive process of deterioration that inevitably happened over time, but now researchers are beginning to understand that ageing is actually regulated by your genes.

A geneticist by the name of Cynthia Kenyon has discovered the secret to a long and healthy life, full of vitality and energy.  Professor Kenyon made this discovery from studying roundworms, and found two key genes that are involved in youthfulness and longevity.

The first gene they found they jokingly called the “Grim Reaper”.  This is the gene that controls insulin and shortened lifespan when switched on.

What switches this gene on?  Anything that causes insulin to be released; the more insulin you release, the more this gene will be turned-on. Certain foods, such as carbs increase the amount of insulin that is released.

The second gene they found is called DAF 16, which the researchers nicknamed “Sweet Sixteen” because of its ability to lengthen lifespan and bring teenage vitality to the worms.  Turning down the “Grim Reaper” gene actually switches on this “Sweet Sixteen” gene.  DAF 16 sends messages to turn on repair and renovation genes.

This gene also boosts the immune system, increases the supply of natural antioxidants, and up regulates the production of proteins that are involved in skin and muscle repair. This gene can be turned on by eating foods that result in minimal insulin release.

Although these breakthroughs were first discovered in roundworms, the genes Dr. Kenyon found do the same thing in rats, mice and probably monkeys and humans as well.  Dr. Kenyon believes this so much that she has made her own diet and lifestyle changes in order to control insulin release thereby down regulating the “Grim Reaper” gene and switching on the “Sweet Sixteen” gene.

Controlling insulin is just one of many healthy lifestyle guidelines that can control the way your body ages.  Researchers are uncovering a multitude of genes that regulate biochemical functions in the body and these almost all of these genes can be turned on or off based on nutritional and lifestyle choices.

We have amazing genetic potential, and the right healthcare provider can help you make the changes that will help you to realize that potential.

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Copyright © 2010. Dr. Lindy Vaughn, DC, Integrated Health Systems. All rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, learn more ways to take control and become proactive in your health. Go to for more information or call our office at 303-781-5617.