As the never-ending story of Brexit rumbles on each week with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel.
And the endless stories of the referendum having both a sociological and economic impact for years to come.
One area that seems to be overlooked is the stress and anxiety that Brexit is causing the nation and one question that is not currently being asked is.
Well, on the face of it this seems to be obvious to answer. With the continual fighting, shouting and screaming (and that’s just in parliament) being broadcast 24/7.
Is it any wonder that everyone is on tenterhooks? And the health of the nation is at breaking point!
As the stress, anger and anxiety levels rise the health and wellbeing of the nation will inevitably fall.
We are fully aware of the short-term health ramifications that stress will cause. Sleepless nights, high blood pressure, eating a poor diet to name but a few.
But no one as of yet has mentioned the long-term health effects that Brexit may cause. And the permeant damage that Brexit will have on this generation and generations to come!
One word can help to explain this – Epigenetics.
Epigenetics is a process where tiny chemicals called Methyl groups sit on top of your genes and control the way they function.
There are a variety of lifestyle and environmental factors that will cause this to happen, with stress being a major trigger for your genes to lose their function over time.
These tiny changes to the way your genes function in many ways act as mutation, which can over time lead to various health issues such as cardiovascular problems, arthritis, dementia and cancer.
And the short-term effects that stress will cause such as sleepless nights, high blood pressure and eating a poor diet can also be measured by your biological age.
The majority of us will be completely unaware that we actually have two ages: Chronological age and biological age.
Chronological age refers the exact number of years that you have been alive while biological age is a true reflection of how your cells are ageing and how they have been affected by your diet, exercise, lifestyle and environment.
Muhdo is a UK based company pioneering the science of epigenetics. Their bioinformatics and science teams have identified the genes – as well as the specific biomarkers which sit upon them – that correlate to cellular ageing.
This allows you to see a true representation of how your diet, lifestyle and environment has been affecting you at a cellular and genetic level, as well as the current status of your internal health.
You should never judge a book by its cover, and the same can also be true when it comes to judging your health from an external point of view.
While external characteristics can sometimes give us an insight into our internal health, in many instances we can simply misinterpret external factors such as bigger muscles, faster running times or eating a certain type of diet as they do not actually actuate to being healthier.
Epigenetics allows us to cut through the media noise of the latest hyped training style or fad diet to enable us to better ascertain which lifestyle changes we must make individually.
These alterations are to provide our “genetic hardware” with the specific “lifestyle software” our body needs to nourish our internal health and, ultimately, live a healthier, happier and longer life.
Unfortunately, the way you lead your life today will not only affect your health but also subsequent generations to come, as research is now clearly demonstrating that epigenetic changes can be passed to your children and grandchildren.
Epigenetic alterations induced by environmental stress
Epigenetic mechanisms in intergenerational effects
Have a read through the above research articles to understand the implications of your health on future generations.
What exactly are some of the world’s best cyclists using now to outperform the their peers, whilst maintaining their health throughout the year?
Well, simply put, it all comes down to your DNA, which could hold the secret to unlocking and improving your health and performance.
Our genetic blueprint determines how the body responds to environmental factors including diet, stress and exercise.
Everyone responds differently, so by profiling an individual to find out their genetic predisposition to each of these factors, it becomes possible to tailor your training and diet to work in conjunction with your DNA, which gives cyclists the ultimate starting point and foundation to build upon, to help improve both their performance but more importantly their health.
Muhdo Health is one such company that is pioneering the science of genomics. Analysing the key genetic variations that we all individually have to help simplify our understanding of how these tiny variations can affect how your muscles form and behave, to how your body utilises the food which you choose to eat each day and then whether you are likely to be deficient in certain vitamins or minerals.
Muhdo teamed up with Madison last year, profiling a variety of riders from both the Genesis and Saracen teams.
Connor Swift and Joey Walker were just two of the riders that were keen to see how after a quick analysis of their genetic code, they could hopefully unlock a few key areas that they either might have not of thought about or just simply overlooked.
So after taking their initial DNA tests they were both pleasantly surprised that being an elite level athlete was actually confirmed in their genes and that they were both highly gifted in various outcomes such as Muscle Stamina, Strength, Lactate Threshold and V02 levels.
But what about their possible weakness, and what could they then do to improve them to optimise each time they get on their bike.
Both Conor and Joey (as with all of us) had various vitamins and minerals that they were less efficient at genetically converting and utilising. This will have a dramatic effect on multiple areas associated with their health and performance.
Conor had an increased risk of deficiency with magnesium as the genes associated with the transportation and absorption weren’t quite as efficient.
Magnesium is fundamentally important to your training as it allows the muscles to relax and improves muscle function, restores muscle length and circulation, which will improve your performance and reduce the chances of you becoming injured.
Conor also metabolises caffeine ( more about caffeine and stress ) extremely quickly which can be the cause of a few issues as well, due to the fact that the performance and cognitive enhancing effects that caffeine has will be short lived, which can in many instance see that individual regularly top up with more caffeine to attain more of a kick.
Unfortunately with any action you will also get an opposing reaction with dehydration, increased adrenaline and cortisol levels, which could lead to tissue degeneration and an increased chance of injury.
Joey on the other hand had an issue utilising selenium, which is an extremely important antioxidant that prevents cellular/ subcellular lipids and fats from being peroxidised, meaning it prevents your body fat from going rancid.
During long distance cycling the body will be placed under an immense amount of stress, causing the body to produce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) also referred to as free radicals.
Selenium helps to combat this, but unfortunately Joey was completely unaware that his antioxidant levels were being affected.
After tweaking a few key nutritional areas Joey actually knocked 30 seconds off his 10 mile PB in just a matter of weeks, which goes to show that even the smallest adjustments can allow for major improvements.
Muhdo are also offering a “Worlds First” for the consumer and health tech fan with a process called Epigenetic tracking, which allows you to actively monitor the effect that your diet, exercise and environment are actually having on your genes expression and health.
Your genes are as only effective as the stimulus that they are given, so understanding how specific foods or the amount of time you are out on your bike and the pollution that then you might be exposed to each day, will then allow you to make certain lifestyle recommendations to hopefully to improve your health and negate any harmful effects.
You don’t need to be an aspiring Geraint Thomas or looking to smash your personal best each week for a DNA test to prove useful though.
Understanding your inner workings and what actually makes you will allow you to make little changes to your lifestyle that are easy to implement and stick to, which will ultimately put you on the path to improving your health and wellbeing.