Proteins and Healthy Aging
While I was in rural China, I toured the home of a couple who had 17 children. Chairman Mao Zedong called her “the Mother of China.” Of course, I wondered how she kept them all straight – what system she used to name them. American athlete George Foreman has 12 children. His five sons are named George Edward Foreman, with numbers to tell them apart.
There are so many functional proteins (P) in humans and other animals that it is difficult or even impossible to name them all! So, scientists follow the George Foreman strategy: just give them numbers. J A particular family of proteins associated with Healthy Aging are numbered P16, P21 and P53. Of these, the most pivotal role is assigned to P53.
P53 proteins work to keep your DNA clean functioning at optimum efficiency. For example, if stress or pollution starts to shrink your telomeres, P53 repairs the damage and replaces the broken DNA segments. Or, in the worst cases, P53 may decide that a cell is beyond repair and chooses to terminate the cell so the damaged DNA cannot spread toxins to other cells. P53 is critical to healthy aging.
There are a number of plants associated with improved P53 activity. They are among the healthiest plants used as food. These plants are often the foods-of-choice in Blue Zones, areas of the Earth where people commonly live to 100 years of age and older. Now, how long you live as an individual is a combination of the genes you were born with, the environment you live in and the choices in life that you make. There is also a measure of “chance” in life: sometimes bad things happen to good people. However, the physiology is clear: take good care of your P53 protein and it will take good care of you!