July 20, 2019
Pistachios: The Super Nut That Repairs DNA
PistachiosPistachios | Pixabay
This year, research published by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) revealed incorporating pistachios into your diet reduces oxidative damage to DNA, increasing healthspan and reversing the metabolic effects of prediabetes.
That sounds great and all, but what exactly does this mean? Could pistachios be the key that unlocks the door to eternal life?
A Bit of Context…
Healthspan v. Lifespan
Although the words ‘healthspan’ and ‘lifespan’ are intertwined, they don’t necessarily mean the same thing.
Your lifespan refers to the “duration of your existence” – essentially, how long you’ll live for.
Your healthspan, on the other hand, refers to the “length of time an individual is in good health for” – essentially, how long you’ll be healthy for.
What’s Considered “Good Health,” Anyways?
Good health, according to Herbert L. Fred, MD, is defined in one of his medical dictionaries as, “a state of optimal physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity,” and in another medical dictionary as, “the condition of an organism with respect to the performance of its vital functions especially as evaluated subjectively or nonprofessionally.”
However, as Fred eloquently puts it in his opinion piece published in the Texas Heart Institute Journal, ‘good health’ is a very relative term.
In Fred’s case, he describes symptoms and ailments that have plagued him due to his age, 83 years old at the time the piece was published, but he remains active and working. Compared to others in his age group, he’s ‘in good health.’
How Pistachios Promote Healthspan and Longevity
While it’s worth noting the study published by American Society for Nutrition was conducted on adults with prediabetes, their results show promise for the general population, as well.
Lifestyle and eating habits, as well as metabolic conditions like prediabetes, can increase oxidative damage to DNA and telomere shortening over a period of time.
Oxidative damage can lead to a number of neurological disorders, diseases, and even cancer, Explore DNA reports. It’s associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, Heart Disease, Aging, Multiple Sclerosis, and Arthritis, to name a few conditions.
Telomeres are sections of DNA found at the end of each of our chromosomes, according to Your Genome. They’re responsible for organizing our 46 chromosomes in the nucleus of our cells, and protecting chromosomes, among other functions.
It’s said that the length of telomeres may also indicate lifespan, as telomeres that are too short can no longer replicate and trigger cell death. They shorten every time they replicate and oxidative stress can negatively impact their length, as well.
The study on pistachios and DNA evaluated 49 participants with prediabetes. They found that incorporating two ounces of the nut into their daily diet reduced DNA damage and increased the expression of telomere-related genes in just a two week period.
Additionally, their research found pistachios contain lutein, an antioxidant carotenoid that helps shield eyes from ultraviolet rays.
Of course, prior to the study, the participants had also undergone a four month dietary treatment plan so the researchers could properly analyze glucose metabolism, inflammatory and oxidative risk indicators.
While these findings don’t necessarily mean gobbling down pistachios will make you live forever, their positive effects on telomere length and reversal of DNA damage could promote a longer, healthy life.
Pistachios are also high in vital nutrients, and let’s face it, they’re pretty damn tasty, too (albeit, expensive).
Next time you go to reach for a bag of chips, consider grabbing a handful of pistachios instead. Your whole body will thank you.
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