Rewriting the Aging Narrative through Epigenetics with Hannah Went
EP 14

Rewriting the Aging Narrative through Epigenetics with Hannah Went

Rewriting the Aging Narrative through Epigenetics with Hannah Went

Episode Summary: 

I’m joined by Hannah Went, co-founder of TruDiagnostics and Everything Epigenetics. She has a lifelong passion for longevity, biological breakthroughs, and disruptive technologies that drive radical improvement to the human condition. In our conversation, we touch on chronological, biological, and epigenetic age and the hallmarks of living a longer, more youthful life.

Show Notes:

I’m joined by Hannah Went, co-founder of TruDiagnostics and Everything Epigenetics. She has a lifelong passion for longevity, biological breakthroughs, and disruptive technologies that drive radical improvement to the human condition. In our conversation, we touch on chronological, biological, and epigenetic age and the hallmarks of living a longer, more youthful life. 

Our chronological age is determined by when we were born and how many years we are now. Our cell structure and DNA prove our biological age. Epigenetics takes these two markers and potentially places your age above the genome, where your biological age is lower than your chronological age. So, how do we turn back the hands of time and effectively age backwards?

Hannah shares several studies of animals defying biological aging and even cultures tending to live longer based on their multitude of close-knit relationships. The pace of aging involves diet, stress, sleep, and fitness levels. Contrary to popular belief, lifting heavier weights and eating more carbohydrates and proteins are not the answers to living a longer life. Listen in as Hannah enlightens us on how we can rewrite the aging narrative by improving our diets, moving our bodies, and reducing exposure to toxic chemicals that can affect future generations.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

Topics Covered:

  • The differences between biological age, chronological age, and epigenetic age
  • Misconceptions of the aging process
  • Challenging the negative connotation of aging and why we age
  • The tell tale signs of aging on a molecular level
  • Studies of animals defying biological age
  • The pace of aging value and how you can age backwards
  • Longevity supplements you can incorporate into your diet

Guest Info: Hannah Went

Hannah Went has a lifelong passion for longevity and breakthrough, disruptive technologies that drive radical improvement to the human condition. She attended the University of Kentucky and graduated with a degree in Biology. During that time, she had multiple research internships studying cell signaling and cell biology. After graduation, she worked for the International Peptide Society as their Director of Research and Content. 

Through work in the integrative medicine industry, Hannah saw an opportunity for methylation-based age diagnostics and started TruDiagnostics in 2020. TruDiagnostic is a company focusing on methylation array-based diagnostics for life extension and preventive healthcare serving functional medicine providers. TruDiagnostic has a commitment to research with over 30 approved clinical trials investigating the epigenetic methylation changes of longevity and health interventions. Since TruDiagnostic’s inception, they have created one of the largest private epigenetic health databases in the world with over 15,000 patients tested to date. Hannah has since created Everything Epigenetics where she shares  insights on  how DNA regulation has an impact on your health.

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Show Transcript

Tonya Papanikolov  00:04

Hi, welcome to The Rainbo Podcast. I'm your host, Tonya Papanikolov. Rainbo and I are on a mission to upgrade humanity with fungi and expand the collective conscious. This podcast builds a virtual mycelial network of bold, open minded thinkers and seekers. I chat with experts, thought leaders, healers, scientists, entrepreneurs, spiritual teachers, activists, and dreamers. These are stories of healing, human potential and expansion, tune in route and expand and journey with us. Hi, everyone, welcome back to another episode. I'm your host, Tonya, for those of you who don't know or who are just tuning in for the first time. Thank you so much for being here. I have a really interesting episode with a new friend of mine named Hannah. 


Tonya Papanikolov  01:02

Hannah went has a lifelong passion for longevity and breakthrough disruptive technologies that drive radical improvement to the human condition. She attended the University of Kentucky and graduated with a degree in biology. And during that time, she had multiple research internships, studying cell signaling and biology cell biology that really piqued her interest. And after graduating, she worked for the International peptide society as their director of research and content. And this was really a formative time for her because she was just discovering the integrative medicine industry. And Hannah saw an opportunity for methylation based age diagnostics, and started true diagnostics and 2020. True diagnostics is a company focusing on methylation array based diagnostics for life extension, and preventative health care serving functional medicine providers. True diagnostics, has a commitment to research with over 30 approved clinical trials, investigating the epigenetic methylation changes of longevity and health interventions. And since true diagnostics inception, they have created one of the largest private epigenetic health databases in the world. 


Tonya Papanikolov  02:16

With over 15,000 patients tested to date. Anna has since created everything epi genetics, her Instagram page, where she shares insights on how DNA regulation has an impact on your health. And I'm really excited, I was recently just introduced to Hana through an optimizing community that I'm a part of that I'm excited to tell you more about soon once they launch. But yeah, I got this biological test from true diagnostics. It's called true age, it is the most precise biological test on the market to date. And I'm really grateful that Hannah came on and that we were able to connect so deeply and you know, that I could have her on and just give us this robust one on one on everything, epigenetics, and what we need to know about aging. And I use that word cautiously, because I really think aging is a privilege and an honor, and has such a negative connotation, especially for women. 


Tonya Papanikolov  03:12

And that is something that I am really aware of, and as she is as well. But what's so empowering about this information, and this research and science is that it gives us a lot of power to realize that we can increase our health span and our lifespan through various proven techniques. And it's like, of course, we know some of this stuff to be true. We know that we feel better when we're managing our stress when we're sleeping better when we are just exercising and keeping up good lifestyle habits. But it's really interesting to see the true genetic, epigenetic biological cell based interactions that those factors and interventions have and how they really, truly can turn back the hands of time. And that puts the power back into our hands. And it invites all of us to play a really active role in our health. And I think that's what these tools do a really good job of, and is a really exciting area. 


Tonya Papanikolov  04:15

So I stand somewhere between having this really intuitive approach with my health, but also being so excited about these metrics and this data and tools and the innovation that's happening within science and health and a lot of these personalized diagnostics that are coming and coming out onto the market, because they're information and with information that gives us the knowledge and power to start to really make decisions that we know support us and that just makes making the opposite decision a little bit easier to avoid. So it's easier to avoid eating fast foods and eating seed oils and processed foods and smoking and drinking and all these things when we really can see and feel the impact that they have on her health. 


Tonya Papanikolov  05:00

So we get into such a cool conversation around epigenetics. It's a one on one getting us into this space and really understanding the difference between our biological age and our chronological age, as well as our epigenetic age. So really, really interesting episode, I think you're going to find it fascinating. There's lots of shownotes. And I'm going to link studies, research Hanna's pages will link to true age as well, in case anybody's interested in getting this testing done, as well. Really fascinating for chronic conditions. And yeah, optimizing lots of different applications. So let's dive into it. Hope you really love this episode. Hello, Hannah.


Hannah Went  05:45

Hi, Tonya, thanks for having me.


Tonya Papanikolov  05:47

Thank you so much for coming on. I'm super, super excited to share this conversation with you and for us to just learn from you and hear all this knowledge that you have on the aging process and longevity healthspan lifespan. So thank you so much for for coming here.


Hannah Went  06:05

Yeah, thanks again, for having me. I'm super excited to dive into all things, you know, preventative health care, aging, epigenetic, so it should be fun.


Tonya Papanikolov  06:12

Yes. So I like to start every episode with just asking, what are you grateful for today? Oh,


Hannah Went  06:18

I like that. Grateful just for being here. Like having the opportunity to wake up, get excited to open my laptop and like do more digging on the research. I get Google alerts and notifications about new research all the time. So someone once told me like, I'm excited to open my laptop and actually get like back to work. Like, you know, you love what you do? Or you're at least excited about it?


Tonya Papanikolov  06:46

Yeah. Oh, my gosh, I mean, that's a whole other topic to that I'm really interested in I genuinely just love hearing about how people spend their time. And that balance between because I know that you're busy in your many roles, but just like hearing about that balance, and what amount of time do you you know, spend in emails and responding versus that digging and, and those parts of those things that really feed you. But we can talk about that later. Definitely. Thank you for sharing that. And one thing I'm grateful for this morning, I guess was honestly just hitting the snooze button a few times and being so warm in my bed. And I love sleep. Yes. And we're going to talk about maybe why sleep is so important. A little bit later, too. And just to give our listeners a little bit of background, so Hannah and I met maybe about a month ago, via a community and optimization longevity community that I will be able to tell you more details about very soon. I don't know if I'm allowed to quite yet. But yeah, I was just introduced to you a few weeks ago, I attended one of your info sessions on epi genetics and really just aging in the aging process, and learned so much from you and was just so excited to have met your diagnostic kit. So I'm going to be doing my age testing really soon. And I just wanted to dive in because it's such a fascinating world. I think aging is probably misunderstood. I'm so excited to dive into it with you. And also such a privilege and an honor to age but at the same time, we can optimize that and really learn something in this whole difference between our chronological and biological age. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into this world of epigenetics? Yeah, definitely


Hannah Went  08:31

the epigenetic space is so new. So it's growing. It's just a buzzword right now. It's like this really, people have like a specific idea or kind of thought process about epigenetics. And like you said, well, we'll get into that. But, you know, I've only really been in this space since probably like 2019. So again, I would say I'm relatively new myself. But first, after I graduated college, just with a biology undergrad degree and was super interested in genetic reprogramming and kind of looking more toward a path of becoming a genetic counselor, I was actually offered just a really unique opportunity at a pharmacy outside of Lexington, Kentucky and took that position. We made a lot of unique products for you know, more of the integrative preventative health care space. And as we were chatting before we hopped on that opened my eyes to this whole new world. And it's hard to imagine what my life was with without that and we can talk about you know what that means in terms of preventative care. But in August of 2019, a paper was published, which proved you could actually reverse your biological aging based on testing, epi genetics. So when that paper came out, we were still creating true diagnostic as a company but then we really pushed our foot on the gas pedal created your diagnostic as fast as we could. And then you know about two and a half years later, we have our own lab we built from the ground up and Lexington, Kentucky so super grateful and thankful to be able to have this this own space and offer a lot of different insights as it relates to People's longevity.


Tonya Papanikolov  10:01

It's incredible. And true age, to my knowledge is the most precise test on the market of one's true biological age. Is that right?


Hannah Went  10:12

Definitely, yeah, there's, there's a lot to get in to there, right? Because there's all these biological age test. So you could go on your laptop and pull up like a web browser and type like biological age calculator, right and enter, like some blood base values you just receive from your healthcare provider, and it can spit out a biological age. You know, that's just a mathematical equation, right? They're not looking at your epigenetic. So there's, there's different ways you can kind of look at your body or your system to produce an outcome. But from what we know, so far, the epigenetic methylation testing does look to be the best. And then true age or true diagnostic as my company, we use only published validated algorithms in this space. So definitely, I would say, have one of the best or the best, you know, age interpretation tests out there.


Tonya Papanikolov  10:57

Yeah. So cool. So prior to 2018, prior to this study being published, what was thought to be happening? Was it known that we could reverse the hands of time? Where did we stand?


Hannah Went  11:08

Yeah, so I was telling, I want to pull something that you brought up, like how people view aging is really interesting, right? Because there's like this question in this space, is aging a disease? Or is it not a disease? And some people like to say, you know, yes, it is because it can help with like grant funding opportunities, and some more cash for those researchers, and then it'll have different implications in the medical space. Some people do not like that, because they say disease has has a bad connotation. And as we age, it should be this graceful process, we become more wise. So you know, I'm not sure what I think about that. So it's, it's always there's kind of that argument there. So, you know, everyone has this idea of chronological age. So aging itself has been around since you know, we can remember but really in 2011, and around 2013, was when these first biological age clocks based on epigenetics was created. So they were created by a man named Dr. Steve Horvath. He's a bioinformatics biostatistician from UCLA. And he really found such a tight correlation between those epigenetic methylation markers and being able to predict our age. So it was just a huge discovery, he'll probably end up winning a Nobel Prize for it. And he's just he's brilliant. The work he's, he's done in this space is incredible.


Tonya Papanikolov  12:24

I know that limb from the Horvath clock. Yep, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, it's so interesting to I think maybe like, from a philosophical perspective, we've been asking this age old question, like, why do we age, and at the same time, to us, a lot of us, maybe horn in the space, it's just this like quintessential aspect of being human is that we age, nothing lasts forever. So that's a really interesting perspective, like is aging a disease from where I just kind of instinctually stand on it? It's kind of like, I think, ideally, if we just found a new word and a little bit slightly different language instead of disease, since it is so this this universal thing that we're all undergoing, because I do like the idea that, you know, it's able to get funding, and a lot of research goes into it. But on the other hand, yeah, I think the negative connotation is risky.


Hannah Went  13:17

Yeah, I agree. There needs to be like, some different name or classification of it, because I definitely, yeah, I think it's great to age like, I make a lot better decisions now than I did when I was a teenager. And like, can think more clearly and understand a lot more about the world. So yeah, it does become become kind of this interesting philosophical question, right. And now there are, I think, like 12, or 13, hallmarks of aging, there used to be nine, they just released a really massive paper about all of these other ways and reasons and rhymes as to why we age. And the epigenetic methylation, there's always the argument of which many hallmarks of aging now is the absolute reason as to why we age. I don't think there is one. We know. Yeah, I don't think there is one at this moment. Well, we'll definitely find more out epigenetic dysregulation I'm obviously most excited about. But again, there's the argument, is it just correlation or like is this actual causation as to why we age? So as research comes out? We'll be closer and closer to answering that question.


Tonya Papanikolov  14:18

And what are some of those other nine or 11 areas that you mentioned of aging? Yeah,


Hannah Went  14:23

things like telomere attrition. So telomeres are going to be the calves at the end of our chromosomes that tend to degrade as we become older chronologically. There's things like your genomic instability. So you know, when your genetics are starting to get different mutations, loss of proteostasis, deregulated nutrient sensing mitochondrial dysfunction, right? So your mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells and really run your cells, their cellular senescence, you know, stem cell exhaustion when there's another one where like your intercellular communication is altered. So really In the definition of aging, and I would say what most people agree upon is aging itself is the dysfunction of your body as time goes on, right? When and I think about it, as you know, you're young, your cells are healthy, they know how to talk to each other, they know what signals to be sending to each other. But as you age, your cells become more and more alike. They can't tell the difference between each other. And then those signals start to become intercepted, or they're sent to the wrong messenger or destination, and you really start to degrade over time, essentially.


Tonya Papanikolov  15:34

And our scientists looking at any specific mammal, animal and anything that has a like a longer lifespan than us that we're like, like, like, how do we know this is possible? And are there ancient civilizations that lived, you know, much longer than us? Or are we looking to other best case scenarios in nature that have the ability to live longer than us?


Hannah Went  15:58

Yeah, that's a great question when I've actually never been asked on a podcast before, but there are nice, I like to get those. And that was great. So weirdly enough, the naked mole rat has been


Tonya Papanikolov  16:09

showing us that they can read. They're very ugly.


Hannah Went  16:13

It sounds like what it is, if you Google it, they like have like really, really skin. They live in the dark underground. Yeah. Did you Google it?


Tonya Papanikolov  16:23

Oh, my gosh, yeah. Really?


Hannah Went  16:27

Yeah. So they're not the prettiest by any means. But they really defy the biological law of aging.


Tonya Papanikolov  16:33

That's cool. They look old, too. Sorry. Yeah,


Hannah Went  16:37

they do. They do. I think they live like underground. They have different like sensors, I don't know that their eyes work properly. They may be even nocturnal. I'm not sure about that. So don't quote me. But their death rates don't rise with age like a lot of animals do. So they kind of defy aging in some way. So they're like a, an animal model researchers are doing a lot on. And then there's certain jellyfish actually as well, jellyfish look, you know, they're a lot more graceful. And, and prettier than these naked mole rats, there are certain jellyfish that also tend to live very, very long. So those two models in particular stick out when you ask that question.


Tonya Papanikolov  17:14

Very cool. You bet like, like, like whales of some sort that are, you know, living for 500 years or something?


Hannah Went  17:21

Yeah, definitely. So I'm not sure if there are any whales who like live longer compared to like, their, what their lifespan should be. So I have to I have to google okay. But also, you've probably heard of like the sanitarians. Right, like people who aren't living in Greece, or like these Mediterranean based places, they tend to live a little bit older compared to, you know, especially people here in the US. And we definitely think that's due to obviously a lot of their lifestyle factors. But there's also some research that suggests like how tight knit and how many close relationships you have with people, right? So in their society, they really put a lot of emphasis on their social life, right, like sitting down for dinner, like actually having deep conversations. Whereas again, in the States, it's mostly like, working from nine to five, like, grab a frozen meal out of the freezer, right? Eat it, maybe get like six hours of sleep, if you're lucky. Wake up and do it again for the rest of your life. Right. So it's different priorities.


Tonya Papanikolov  18:23

Yeah, absolutely. And I do want to get into some more of those kind of risk factors of aging. But will you tell us a little bit about biological age and chronological age?


Hannah Went  18:33

Yeah, definitely. So chronological age, rather obvious, right? But to define it, it's just the number of years you've been on this earth, right? The number of birthday candles, you're blowing out on your cake when you're celebrating, whereas biological age is more of this second age we have that describes how you're aging on a cellular level. So chronological age is not a good way to really identify how someone is aging, because we all know some people who are 30 that look like they're 50, right? And vice versa. So there's this idea of phenotypic variation, where people have these projected phenotypes to look differently. So chronological age isn't, you know, great for that. We knew there was this underlying mechanism of how we were aging at more of this this biological level.


Tonya Papanikolov  19:16

And when you say fino typical, you mean just the way they look. Yeah, you believe tell us a bit more about that. Like, is that just purely a factor of how someone is born? And there's not many ways to change that or?


Hannah Went  19:30

Yeah, so, you know, phenotypic variation. I'll just start with like a very simple example. Like, you have two people who are 30 for example, one of them smokes a lot of cigarettes, right? One of them drinks a lot of alcohol, one of them has chronic sun exposure, so they're going to phenotypically have more wrinkles, right and maybe like discoloration on their face compared to like the 30 year old who doesn't do any of that. So all of those kinds of exposures and things I listed. Those are affecting that phenotypic variation. We're on a cellular level, right? But when we're born, of course, you know, our genetics there, you know, we may have certain genes and maybe some certain genes aren't working, that can affect kind of our outwards appearance as well or like, even like our hair color, right, if we have curly hair or straight


Tonya Papanikolov  20:14

hair, too. Yeah. Okay, that makes total sense. So, so there's lifestyle factors that are playing a role in that phenotypic expression that we can start to change as well. Yeah. Okay. So we know a little bit about chronological age and biological age. So you know, you were telling us about the true diagnostics, age test, true age? What kind of information do we get from that test? And what are some of the best case scenarios you've seen, with people being able to actually turn back and reverse age? Yeah,


Hannah Went  20:45

yeah. So, you know, main outcomes. Again, when people think of epi genetics, and like this DNA methylation testing, we do, they think of like a number, right? Like a biological age. So an age that's going to just look like your chronological age. So we give you a couple of those. So you get you get you received some biological ages, and you want those to be lower than your chronological age, right? The lower those are, the better. Because if you have increased biological ages that are greater than your chronological age, literature, and research has shown that you are going to be at an increased risk for almost every single chronic disease and even death. So again, there's ways we can change that, which is why this is so exciting. The one number that you will also receive from us that I'm a huge fan of is going to be this pace of aging value. So your overarching biological ages, I like to call those historical base processing, because that tells you how you've been aging since your Inception up until now. But this pace of aging actually tells you how quickly you're aging at a moment in time. So you know, are you aging faster than one biological year per one chronological year or a little bit slower? So the overarching biological ages give you more of a historical view and the pace of aging gives you a view of you know what you're doing right now? Yeah. And certain things, you have to change both of those, right? So I love I'm a huge believer in lifestyle factors, like I am just, you know, if you don't figure out those lifestyle factors, and you're just like medicating, or supplementing, or like doing all these procedural based things, it's honestly more of like a kind of a waste of your time and money because you're putting a bandage over, like, what the root causes are, what that actual issue is. And literature has shown just huge improvements in biological aging with simple lifestyle changes. So the four I really liked to name and there's there's a ton of others, but things like your diet, your sleep, your stress, and your fitness levels as well. So we can go into any of those categories.


Tonya Papanikolov  22:45

A couple things, you know, when you were mentioning that chronological age, and if that is accelerated, I just wanted to mention maybe a few factors like a traumatic event that might have happened in somebody's life earlier on, that would have increased that biological pace of age. Is that right?


Hannah Went  23:03

Yeah, definitely. So all sorts of things, right. So like, think of any major lifestyle? Yeah, yeah. So any major like surgeries even or like, again, smoking, drinking any toxic environmental exposures? Crazy enough, even things like your socioeconomic status, or your education level can actually affect your methylation markers and give you increased biological aging? You know, depending on what those those factors are things like fertility, PTSD. So yeah, you have all these different outcomes that can actually give you advanced biological aging, most of them, you know, in your control, but there are instances where, you know, there could be a disease outcome or kind of a disease diagnosis as well, that could increase the biological age.


Tonya Papanikolov  23:46

Yeah, that makes that makes sense. And one of those other pieces that you mentioned, that I think is just so prominent and hard to escape, and I know that you're a an entrepreneur and have a lot going on. So I want to speak to stress, and it is insidious, and everywhere and hard to avoid. What are some tools that you find work or that you've seen in the literature as these ways to mitigate stress ways to help us perceive stress differently?


Hannah Went  24:13

Yeah, that stress is my favorite probably to talk about because I live in it. Right? I'm aware that I need to be doing things to help mitigate those levels. So there's very strong data showing increased stress, like we mentioned increases the biological age. However, there's also really great data on how you can reverse that. So we can talk about you know, just, you know, stress in general or different stressors like pregnancy, COVID-19 surgeries, whether the they're elective or not. Dr. Jesse Peconic at Harvard, he did a study on just this. And basically ask the question, well, you have these stressors, you get this increased biological age from these stressors, can that be reversed upon recovery? The answer is yes. So that You know, great news. But to push that recovery even further, we can do several things. We can do breathing exercises, we can do meditation, we can elicit a relaxation response. So any I say anything that does it for you, whether it's really writing, walking, yeah, nature, especially, I've been actually trying to do more meditation at night, just 10 minutes before, you know, I get ready to go to bed and try and working that into into my routine, I'll see if it, you know, helps my HRV and different metrics, but it just like relaxes me as well, like I can subjectively know that it's making me feel better.


Tonya Papanikolov  25:37

Oh, yeah. I mean, that's my, that's my go to when I was in my early 20s. I mean, really, my path started through through stress, and trying to find my way through environments that felt so bad, like just so icky, and my body so uncomfortable. And I'm so grateful that I found meditation and yoga so early on, and they completely changed. I mean, honestly, like, it changed my face when we talk about phenotypic expression like, and it's so interesting, because I have this teacher who's this really incredible sage, really, the spiritual teacher, and he often will talk about how these practices can change the way that your face looks. Just because if you think like, even just like simple expressions of like furrowing the brows, and whatever, like we have the stress personality that we that comes out when we're, you know, in those states, and it's just as important to have that kind of meditative mind personality. And I think the ability to drop in so quickly, there's, I don't know if you've heard of it, and I'm not super sure on the science how the technology works, but it's something I've wanted to look into is, I've heard great things about it is Heart Math Institute has some pretty cool ways to measure the state of coherence from the brain and the heart in states of meditation, which would indicate parasympathetic, activation and stuff like that. But I think we also know what that feels like is in the body is like a relaxing and calming feeling.


Hannah Went  27:13

Yeah, I love that. That's so interesting. You bring up the facial expression with with yoga, you know, I was never really into yoga until a couple years ago. And there's a studio I like here in Lexington, and this instructor, I just love I despise going to anyone else, but it's hot. And yeah, she just does it. It's amazing. So you know, hot yoga to moving your body stretching, like really like being like in your being and aware of yourself and your emotions. So it's, yeah, such a unique experience gaining more control over that.


Tonya Papanikolov  27:44

Absolutely. I like pulled my neck the other week, probably because of stress. And I went to a physiotherapist and I was like, you know, we were going to all these things. And I was like, Okay, so is there one movement? Practice? That is the one best movement practice, which I know the answer to kind of intuitively, but I wanted to know what he would say. And, you know, he was like, well, that there was actually just a study done? And the answer is no, everything works as long as you do something. So whether it's stretching, whether it's yoga, whether it's running, just keeping the body active is the most crucial piece and all of it works. And was that your answer to? That was my answer to it's like, there's Yeah, it's so it's so specific. I really don't believe there's like a one, one size fits all. I think everybody is so unique. And as long as there's movement and activity and that person tuning into their body and listening to what they need, it's likely going to be beneficial.


Hannah Went  28:35

Yeah, definitely. And, Tony, I know you want to as well to talk about maybe how higher biological aging may affect women in particular. Yeah, so unfortunately, for all of you listeners out there, there's limited data behind just epigenetics and women in general. So we're learning a lot more as time goes on. A lot of the clinical trials will have like older men in them who are very unhealthy because they can see a larger change with intervention. So that's like the reason as to why. But we know that that higher epigenetic aging, so if you have that higher biological age above your chronological age, in terms of women's health that can be associated with very severe or late occurring hot flashes in your life. It can also be associated with reduced risk of fertility, which we can we can talk a little bit more about even higher rates of cognitive dysfunction, higher rates of vaginal dryness, and then even higher risk of CBG cardiovascular disease, cancer and death. But I would say those are, you know, common associations for for men as well.


Tonya Papanikolov  29:40

Is there any hope of having some of these clinical trials done on women specifically? Have you heard of anything in the field?


Hannah Went  29:47

Definitely. Yeah. So you know, you will find clinical trials that will have both and as we go through diagnostic, I should say, as a company, we have about 30 clinical trials going on at any given time. And we definitely when we're consult talking with people about their protocol, you know, really are only accepting of people who are making their inclusion and exclusion criteria unique in the fact that they have people of all ages, you know, men and women, because again, the reason they don't like the women is when you start getting into menopause and you know, you're postmenopausal kind of stage in life, those hormones could be affecting the biological aging, but we need to account for that we need to be inclusive of that and know what that means.


Tonya Papanikolov  30:26

Yeah, absolutely. Is there anything when giving a protocol to, you know, a man versus woman use those terms loosely? But like, when you're giving a protocol to either of those? Are there differences that you would give to two different people of a different gender based on that based on their gender, and based on knowing that women's hormones are affecting the system and the cells much differently?


Hannah Went  30:47

Yeah, definitely. I'm not health care provider by any means. But you know, one of the supplements, I believe it's actually prescription in Canada, but that we love for the epigenetic aging and lowering in that age is going to be DHEA. DHEA is going to really help mitigate cortisol levels for stress. So men in one of the original trials, this was an actual that first interventional trial I was talking about, they use DHEA. And they do about 50 milligrams, which is a lot for women. So in pre menopausal women, you'll probably maybe do five milligrams DHEA, just because you may get some side effects, like the oily skin, the greasiness, maybe a little bit of acne as well. So you want to be aware of those side effects. When you start to become, you know, going through menopause or even postmenopausal woman, you can get into about 15 milligrams DHEA or even maybe, you know, 25 milligrams DHEA. So that one in particular really stuck out when you ask that question. But again, it all kind of goes back to using that for mitigating stress levels. So if you want to back up and attack your lifestyle first, and in that realm, that would be my first step of advice.


Tonya Papanikolov  31:55

Absolutely. Yeah. That's pretty interesting. And anything that you are seeing around fertility in terms of the aging process, and when a woman hits menopause, how safe it is to have children into someone's 40s.


Hannah Went  32:09

Yeah, so I'm going to maybe bring up another subject that just shows a lot of light as to why epigenetics is so important to to answer that question. There's something called epigenetic transgenerational inheritance.


Tonya Papanikolov  32:26

I just watched a YouTube from Dr. Michael Skinner yet.


Hannah Went  32:30

Oh, my gosh, I just interviewed him last week. Oh, okay. Yeah. So that is so cool that you, you just watched his lecture. Anyways, he's out of Washington State University. And he actually coined this term and found this mechanism in basically what epigenetic transgenerational inheritance is when you're passing these epigenetic signatures on to children if you have children. But you know, there's things that are passed on to you, from your mother, from your grandmother, maybe from your great grandmother, and so forth. So he actually studies what's been passed down through generations. And it's fascinating. I actually heard him lecture in Seattle, Washington last year at a conference. And I was never I've never been so scared after last year in my life, because he studies more of the Toxics that we're passing on. So for example, back in the 1950s, there are the names escaping me, I think it's the name of the toxic is escaping me right now. But there's this toxic ingredient that they use to help cure malaria. So they were just giving it to everyone. And it was it was a great substance at the time, they thought it helped cure malaria. But we didn't know the effect it actually had on our health. Well, what's been studied in animal models is that this this toxic component, and I'll give it to you so you can put it in the shownotes and tell everyone actually shows to create obesity, and the second third generations to come. And right now, after the 1950s Yeah, is now so you know, you always hear about this obesity, you know, pandemic and epidemic that we're having at the moment. So there's yeah, there's a lot of great correlations and tricks, but basically, you know, everything we put into our bodies, and everything that we're surrounded by is affecting future generations. So when you get into the aspect of fertility, that becomes really, really important. Right. So that's kind of Yeah, rounding out that question. And, you know, hopefully answering that there.


Tonya Papanikolov  34:25

Yeah, I know, there's a lot of efforts, maybe amongst the people that I around and within the wellness community as well, that really worked to and suggest some significant detoxing or cleansing before that decision. And for both males and females, but both parts, taking part in like looking at pathogens looking at everything, yeah, toxic load, environmental stressors, and starting to reduce that because of what we're going to pass on to the baby. Yeah,


Hannah Went  34:57

definitely. And that toxic is just a pesticide. It's DDT for those. Wow. Yeah. So you know, there's a lot of things like and that's why it's so important to even like spend a couple extra cents on like the organic, you know, foods and things that aren't sprayed with certain pesticides or you know, toxic chemicals. So, just being like really aware of Yeah, what you're putting into your body, it's made me start looking at like labels and kind of understanding things and opening my eyes to again, this this whole different world.


Tonya Papanikolov  35:28

Yeah, absolutely. And then, you know, as we come back to that point, too, it's, it's kind of like, supplementation does play a role, I think, in what is needed for Western culture. And people living here based on stress levels based on soil health, and what we're getting from our food, even from organic food sometimes can be really well supplemented with depth supplements. And can we chat a bit about what some of the longevity supplementation looks like? Anything that you really like to recommend or suggest?


Hannah Went  35:57

Yeah, my number one recommendation, and the one that's been really backed by the literature is going to be vitamin D, which is probably no surprise to anyone. But there have been a plethora, a good handful of studies done with epigenetic aging, and vitamin D, probably about like 4006 1000 iu per day. But of course, you're going to want to measure a levels on side of that, depending on you know, what range you want to be in. So I would definitely say vitamin D. The other one would be, there's a really great study that ties genetics and your epi genetics together. And I love those studies, I think we need more of them, we need to focus on more of this multi omics approach rather than just you know, being so kind of stuck in our niche and focusing on that, right. So what this study did is they looked at your genetic snip the MTHFR gene, and the 677 cc variants, so homozygous variant in women. And what they found is that women who have this variant have increased epigenetic aging. By about a couple of years, it was very prevalent, very clear. And if you supplement with a methylated cofactor, like your five methyl folate or methyl cobalamin, you almost an instantaneous reversal of that epigenetic aging. So there's connections in the body everywhere, right? Just think of it as like different strings pulling on each other and things being affected. So yeah, very huge fan of the methylated B vitamins. Again, maybe you want to do some additional outside genetic testing to kind of know how your methylation processes based on your genetics is working.


Tonya Papanikolov  37:30

And the other thing there too, is that we know stress is really depleting those B vitamins, right? Yeah, definitely. Can we talk a bit more about methylation? Tell us about


Hannah Went  37:41

DNA methylation, correct. Like the epigenetic components?


Tonya Papanikolov  37:44

Yeah. And yeah, so


Hannah Went  37:45

you know, when you think of epigenetics, the definition of epigenetics is going to mean above the genome. So it's basically going to be modifications to your genes to your DNA. And like Tonya said, we're specifically looking at DNA methylation. And we're not looking at your genes like them, TFR compte, but we're looking at these little markers on top of your DNA. And those are their CH three groups. So it's a carbon and three hydrogens attached. And if something is methylated, that means that the gene is turned off. Also, just


Tonya Papanikolov  38:17

to like, give people may be a bit of context, when you say this, we're looking inside of a cell into the DNA within the nucleus of that cell, right? Correct. Yes. And every cell, every cell in the body is going to have Yeah, maybe we can go into that bit after but, you know, there's so many different cell types in the body organs. So I think we're getting into cell biology here. But like, what is there going to be like, I know there's different cell types?


Hannah Went  38:44

Correct? Yeah. So you know, we use blood at your diagnostic, right? So we're gonna look at different cell types to measure your epigenetic methylation and give you a biological age. But from a research based perspective, that's been a huge question is there all of these cells in your bodies, all of these different cell types, and there's about 28 million different methylation markers, and in each cell type, they're going to be very different. So that's more I would say, on the forefront. That's kind of something that we're diving into to learn a little bit more about, okay, not to make things more complicated, but there's some really exciting new clocks that are based on your organ systems. So like in the future, we'll be able to tell you like the age of your heart or the age of your brain or the age of your liver, or pancreas, etc. So yes, there are differences that need to be addressed in those cell types. Okay, generally speaking, yeah. When when we're, you know, we're going into a cell, we're looking at that genetic infrastructure, which is going to be the same across your body, unless I gave little air quotations unless you're doing like genetic modification, or I don't know, gene therapy. But if something's methylated that's turned off, so you're not getting that gene expression. You're not getting that phenotypic variation or phenotypic outcome at the at the end, if something's unmethylated so You don't have the methylation marker there, then that means the genes turned on. So you are going through like the protein folding, you're going through that central dogma process and you are getting that outcome, it's really important to know that methylation in the terms that I'm speaking about it right now is not good or bad, right? It is very specific to the position we're looking at. So some things you want turned off like those cancer genes, your oncogenes, and then some things you won't turn on, like your tumor suppressor genes who are going to remove that cancer, hopefully,


Tonya Papanikolov  40:30

so fascinating. Yeah, definitely. Wow. But are you really excited about in this space right now that you're up to that true diagnostics is up to?


Hannah Went  40:40

I'm excited about a lot of things I'm excited about, I think mostly all of the clinical trials that we're doing, I think the more we can learn about preventative health and preventative medicine, the, you know, more widely accepted this. And you know, what can change that the more widely accepted these kind of insights will be because the goal, although people know, epigenetic testing, by the biological aging, we always talk about methylation being a biomarker. So it's not you know, epigenetics is not just biological aging, it can do a lot of other things. So the more clinical trials we do, the more insights we find, as it relates to aging will be great. We need to know what slows those clocks down. But I'm really excited about the possibility and future of like the diagnostics of you know, as it relates to disease type, because it's all about preventing the onset of that disease, and increasing what we call healthspan. Right? How many healthy years you have on this earth, compared to your lifespan, which is how many years you're, you're actually alive, or you're you're living? Right? I don't want to be it said that the person who's living until 150, is currently walking this earth. I don't want to be living to 150 if like, I can't, like do yoga when I'm 80 years old, right? Or like go on a walk, you know, so well, we'll kind of see what the future holds there.


Tonya Papanikolov  42:01

That's wild. I didn't know that. That was that was said that the person that's going live 250 is alive right now.


Hannah Went  42:08

Yeah. So what we'll see Yeah, yeah,


Tonya Papanikolov  42:11

I believe it. Any research done on those like blue zone areas? Like I know, you mentioned the Mediterranean? And yeah, anything you can tell us about those kinds of


Hannah Went  42:20

areas? Yeah, there definitely are. So kind of going back to those sanitarians. Right, people who are living above 100 years old, chronologically, those sanitarians. Like, if you have grandparents who've lived to the to their 100 years or older, you probably have like some of that longevity, genetic makeup, or whatnot. So you probably have better biological aging, right? Because we talked about it's a hereditary component or a factor. But the research in those those, you know, blue zone areas, and in kind of the Mediterranean, again, we see really great biological aging with people who eat more whole foods and take a Mediterranean based approach, who have closer relationships, more again, quality over that, that actual quantity. So those groups, I think, will be studied in further detail as well.


Tonya Papanikolov  43:08

It's really interesting, I think, you know, we you and I both have our oops, which I think is a really incredible tool to help us maybe stay committed to some of those lifestyle pieces that we can really control. But yeah, what are your kind of major suggestions for listeners for what they can do to kind of start measuring these things to increase lifespan? And to kind of get into the space? Of course we can. I'll definitely link to diagnostics and big test gets in our show notes, but what kind of suggestions are you?


Hannah Went  43:39

Yeah, so we talked about stress, we talked a little bit about diet. So on top of the Mediterranean diet, I can't stress enough about eating whole foods, right and like no fast food or artificial like flavorings and foods, and then even caloric restriction, I would say caloric restriction is probably up there with one of my like, number one recommendation so not necessarily time restricted feeding or you know, intermittent fasting but just reducing your overall caloric intake by about 10%. That has been shown to really, really lower your biological age, slow down how fast you're, you're currently aging. So there's a lot of great literature to back that up and it's actually called the calorie trial ca L E r i e, it's been in preprint mode forever and just got published last week. So people listening may have seen some some precedent as well and I can I can send it to you Tonya. In terms of sleep sleeps, very important, right quality and quantity sleep we really want to push for and then you know when we didn't really dive too much into yet is the exercising. We talked about, you know, some yoga and breath work but what we find is you need a really healthy balance, right? You can't over exercise, you can't under exercise. You know the people we test those elite athletes, the Olympians, they have the worst biological aging and whenever I say that people are either like, oh, yeah, that makes sense. Or like, what, what the heck. And it's really because they're, they're doing way too much harm on their body, they're having a lot of oxidative stress more than you know, anyone would need. So it's, you have to have a healthy balance, like a rule of thumb, we just say moving your body, you know, maybe that's five to seven days a week. But maybe three of those days are purely stretching, right? Or the yoga or the breath work. So instead of exercising I really like saying, like, move your body just because I know when I think exercising, I think of like, hardcore, heavy lifting in head, which that is important. But that's not all there is to it.


Tonya Papanikolov  45:36

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I'm glad you mentioned that. And it's we're both taking part in a 30 day challenge right now. How is yours going?


Hannah Went  45:43

Good. Yeah, I always forget to like log my activity. So I need to do a better job of that. But yeah, you know, I love I love moving my body in the morning, right when I wake up. I've been trying to do like some more running and walking. You know, I have that walking pad in my standup desk. Yes. So I told you about. So that's, that's really great. It helps me get more more steps in and now I find like sitting down a little aggravating. I'm always like, I need to stand up because it's just I don't know, it just makes me feel like little achy or I don't know.


Tonya Papanikolov  46:14

Yeah. Yeah, it's interesting, too. I've been, you know, just very long days. And from my computer, I'm doing my Masters right now. And it's like for the first time I'm really noticing the way that just stagnation holds in the body and like the habitual patterns of like hunching over technic, things like that. So my goal with whoop has just been to increase my movement. And the 30 day challenge has been really great. 30 minutes of movement, and my body feels completely different. And even if it's just like stretching my arms out after you know, this like shortening process of however I sitting or typing or Yeah, it's yeah, that exercise movement piece is is so key. And it's also pretty closely related to mobility. Right? As we age and yeah, increasing that. lifespan. And health span, I suppose. Both definitely. Yeah. Both hand in hand. Yeah. For aging populations. Yeah. Yeah. And even is something


Hannah Went  47:09

out there as well, Tonya, like, again, prioritizing lifting weights, because we lose so much muscle mass as we age. So that's a big question that we we get a lot, but I think it's important, you know, again, it doesn't have to be something like super heavy at all, like start with a can of soup, or like a two and a half pound dumbbell, right, just like getting used to kind of putting a little bit of movement on your arm. So I think that's important as well.


Tonya Papanikolov  47:33

Yeah, absolutely. And just the ability to also prevent injury is exactly like comes from strength. Right? Yeah, that is really interesting. And on the sleep front, actually two things. So I you piqued my interest with what you said about the caloric restriction and that study? And so can you give us a bit of context? Like, is that just maintaining a healthy body weight? Is that being underweight? Is that what does that look like? In mean?


Hannah Went  47:57

Yeah, so in this study, I'll explain it and then like, go into your questions, because those are great. It was just a 10% overall caloric restriction and healthy non obese adults over a two year period. So you know, say your dietary caloric intake levels are 2000 calories a day, take, you know, about 200 off of that 10%. So it's not it's not that much when you think about it, right? Like, don't grab that extra piece of chocolate, like I do every day after dinner, right? Or, you know, make those portion sizes a little bit smaller throughout. So not everyone is going to lose weight from caloric restriction. That's a huge distinction, right? Some people do, some people don't. So it's not about losing weight, it's just about eating less calories. But what they saw from that study, in particular, is that pace of aging dropped dramatically. So how you're currently aging really slow down. And that's just super, super important. It was the first ever proof of concept study, really showing that the pace of aging is capturing change, because we know caloric restriction, extends lifespan and animal models, your C. elegans, which are like your little worms, your safiullah your flies, mice, rat models, we can't measure that in humans, because we live too long. So this biomarker is able to capture the change of caloric restriction on us. So yeah, just just eating less. But also, that doesn't mean you can go eat one meal from McDonald's and say, Well, I restricted my calories for the day. I'm done. Right? It has to be quality calories as well, like we've been chatting about a little bit. So it definitely does matter.


Tonya Papanikolov  49:28

That really helps that context. Yeah, that's fascinating.


Hannah Went  49:32

Yeah, just something to add to that as well. I challenge people when they're eating. And this is something that I've been trying to be more like mindful about is like when you go to like, eat, is it just like this habitual thing you're going through in this process? Or like, are you actually hungry? I think asking yourself that question is super important. And if you're if you're hungry, eat right. Our body needs to be nourished. It needs to be fueled with food. That's super important. But a lot of the times, you know, it turns into this big social event where we're eating you know, Um, just massive amounts of food and over eating right and then becoming more tired and it's not, you know, the food we should typically put in our body. So just yeah, be mindful, I think and know what works for you. Right? You know yourself better than than anyone else. So just be practical.


Tonya Papanikolov  50:14

Yeah. Yeah. I'm very, very much support that as well, that brought up something that I want to ask you before we, before we wrap up is just can you tell us about alcohol? And I know that there are there two sides of the coin, where it's, you know, a little bit can maybe be beneficial. But there's also so much research coming out around how it shrinks the brain, all sorts of stuff. So where does alcohol stand on the span of you know, does this HS


Hannah Went  50:40

Yeah, from an epigenetic perspective, when these tests first came out, there was a correlation between, you know, one drink per week, so, you know, a glass of wine or a cane of beer, once per week, had an association with better biological aging. So people were like, you know, whatever. Sounds good. I'll get my resveratrol in my wine, my glass of red wine. But now the studies show no alcohol whatsoever, right? Actually, people with alcohol use disorder, which is about seven drinks a week for women. double that for men 14 drinks a week for men actually have a 2.22 year epigenetic age acceleration. So we don't recommend any alcohol from an epigenetic perspective. Now, personally, I just think this space will be booming like you're just seeing I mean, if you watch the Superbowl right in those commercials, like there's the Heineken beer that's coming out with that's a non alcoholic, Heineken beer. You're seeing all these like cute trendy, like companies coming out that are alternatives for alcohol or like the the rise of mocktails. Right, there was this huge movement that I hope will just keep making a wave in the space. I think it's really exciting. And I think we'll see a big change in that trend soon. Of overdrinking.


Tonya Papanikolov  51:58

I am so excited to get my age testing done. I'm going to tell you and show you and probably ask your opinion. Yeah, we


Hannah Went  52:06

can definitely go over it together. No, I'm super excited off debt to see all the insights and find out what yeah, how you're aging.


Tonya Papanikolov  52:14

Yeah, I'm really, really looking forward to it. There's definitely a bunch my university habits, we'll see what impact they had.


Hannah Went  52:21

Yeah, definitely.


Tonya Papanikolov  52:24

Well, this has been so so insightful. Is there anything you think we've missed in in this discussion?


Hannah Went  52:30

No, I think it's been great. I think this was like a super comprehensive like introductory overview. But yeah, if anyone sends questions, your your any questions are sent your way? Or you have any comments and we need to like dig up some more research or papers. I'm more than happy to help or you know, answer answer any of them.


Tonya Papanikolov  52:48

Thank you so much. You are such a wealth of knowledge. And it's really, really incredible that you're bringing bringing this to the public and doing the work that you're doing with true diagnostics, and really like leading the movement on this area.


Hannah Went  53:03

Yeah, super, super exciting. There's a ton we now know and have uncovered but a lot we don't know. So I'm just excited for what's to come and what we find out.


Tonya Papanikolov  53:13

Yeah. Okay. Well, my parting my parting question for all guests is if you have one intention, prayer, wish that you can just share a message to spread what would that be?


Hannah Went  53:26

Yeah, I like that one, too. The one thing that came to mind, I'll just say the first thing that came to mind is just breathe, right? You can do do anything and everything through breath. So take some time, you know, for yourself. And just Yeah, breathe. Relax. Close your eyes meditate.


Tonya Papanikolov  53:42

Yeah. I love that. It is so simple. Yeah, we can breathe through anything. Truly. Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Anna. This is so enlightening and an exciting area. So thank you for your time today.


Hannah Went  53:57

Thanks, Tonya. I appreciate it.


Tonya Papanikolov  54:02

With deep gratitude, thanks for tuning into this episode. If you liked it, hit subscribe and leave us a review that is always very appreciated. Mushrooms transformed by mind and body and if you're interested in bringing medicinal mushrooms into your life and health journey, check out for our meticulously sourced Canadian fruiting body mushroom tinctures. Until next time, peace in and peace out friends



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