The Genetic Legacy of Energy

Nezaket Türkel, PhD

Nezaket Türkel, PhD

Molecular Oncology Researcher and Genetic Engineer

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We examine comprehensive information about mitochondrial DNA and heredity, which is passed from mother to child, and the effects of exercise at the cellular level. 

Mitochondrial DNA and Inheritance

Cells, the basic unit of life, work in a complex system for energy production. Mitochondria play an important role in this energy production and are known as the energy factories of the cell. The genetic makeup of mitochondria is carried by mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and this genetic material is an important part of the inheritance from mother to child.

Mitochondrial DNA is different from nuclear DNA and is located outside the nucleus in the cell, in the mitochondria. One of the most important features of mitochondrial DNA is the way it is inherited from mother to child. This means that children inherit mitochondrial DNA from their mothers, regardless of gender. Although traditional belief is that lineage runs through the father, in some Semitic religions it is said to run through the mother. 

Extensive genetic studies can be carried out to trace ancestry and determine the origin of certain populations. Y-chromosome analysis identifies genetic traces from the paternal side, allowing a journey back to the ancestral lineage. Mitochondrial DNA analysis, on the other hand, traces matrilineal ancestry by examining the genetic material passed from mother to child. These methods provide a detailed view of an individual’s genetic history. Y chromosome tracking is a genetic trait found only in male individuals. It therefore focuses on tracing lineage only from the paternal side (father to son). The mutation rate on the Y chromosome is slower compared to mitochondrial DNA. This can sometimes be less sensitive in identifying changes in the past. The mitochondrial DNA present in every individual is sex-independent and is passed from mother to child. It can therefore be used to trace the ancestry of both male and female individuals. Mitochondrial DNA has a relatively fast mutation rate. This can help to identify past changes in the lineage. The inheritance of mitochondrial DNA, passed only from mother to child (regardless of gender), plays an important role in genetic diversity and the evolutionary process, as well as supporting the belief in these Semitic religions.

Mitochondria, Energy Production and Epigenetic Changes Passed from Mother to Child

Energy production processes in cells are tightly linked to the genetic code as well as epigenetic regulations. Epigenetic changes passed from mother to child can shape energy metabolism by affecting mitochondrial function.

Mitochondria and Energy Production: Mitochondria are the organelles responsible for energy production within the cell. Nutrients in the cell are broken down into energy carriers such as ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in a complex series of reactions in mitochondria. This process is guided by the genetic material, the mitochondrial DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA has a different structure from nuclear DNA in the cell nucleus. Proteins and other epigenetic mechanisms surrounding mitochondrial DNA control mitochondrial gene expression. This control can affect mitochondrial function and energy production.

Epigenetic Changes Passed from Mother to Child: Epigenetic changes are molecular markers that regulate the activity of genes. The unborn baby is exposed to the mother’s lifestyle, dietary habits and environmental factors. These factors can affect the child’s gene expression by triggering epigenetic modifications. In particular, methylation patterns and histone modifications passed from mother to child can have long-term effects on mitochondrial function.

As mitochondrial function plays a central role in cellular energy production, epigenetic regulation can affect mitochondrial gene expression. For example, environmental factors that a mother is exposed to during pregnancy can cause epigenetic changes in mitochondrial DNA, which can affect energy metabolism in future generations. At the same time, the mother’s quality of life before pregnancy also plays an important role in the epigenetic changes she will pass on to the next generation. 

Effect of Methyl-Rich Diet on Epigenetic Changes

Epigenetic changes are regulations on genetic material and control gene expression. These changes can be triggered by signals from environmental factors and can shape the function of cells. A methyl-rich diet, especially the consumption of foods containing folate, vitamin B12 and methionine, plays a critical role in epigenetic regulation.

Methyl Groups and DNA Methylation: Methyl groups are important epigenetic marks that regulate gene expression in cells. DNA methylation occurs by the addition of methyl groups, especially to cytosine bases. A methyl-rich diet can influence this methylation process by providing methyl group donors.

Folate and Vitamin B12: Folate (B9) and vitamin B12 are methyl group donors that play an important role in methylation processes. Adequate intake of these vitamins ensures that DNA methylation occurs in an orderly manner. In particular, folate deficiency can disrupt DNA methylation, leading to epigenetic imbalances.

Methionine and S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAM): Methionine is an amino acid used in the synthesis of methyl groups. S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) is a compound that donates methyl groups and plays a critical role in this process. Consumption of foods containing methionine can increase the methylation capacity of cells.

NAC (N-Acetylcysteine): Another molecule that provides methyl, NAC is an antioxidant that is converted by the body into the amino acid cysteine. NAC is a precursor in the synthesis of an important antioxidant called glutathione. It positively affects mitochondrial function and health by helping to combat oxidative stress in mitochondria. 

‘Single carbon metabolism’, the cycling of methyl groups in the cell, involves a series of reactions involving the transfer of one carbon unit between folate, the main methyl donor, and various methyl acceptors, and the recycling of homocysteine as a by-product. Genetic variations (differences) between individuals, called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), can affect these metabolic processes. Some variations can slow down or disrupt the functioning of this mechanism. In this case, they may need more external supplements than individuals who do not carry the variation. The presence of variations can be determined by genetic testing.

In conclusion, it is important to adopt a balanced and varied diet to maintain a healthy epigenetic profile. Knowing your genetic variations when determining your nutritional regimen and supplements, and in the light of this information, correct, balanced and spot-on choices can be made with the guidance of your doctor. 

Effects of Exercise at the Cellular Level: Methylation and Epigenetic Perspective

Exercise triggers not only physical health but also a number of biological changes at the cellular level. Recent research suggests that epigenetic mechanisms play a key role in understanding the effects of exercise on gene expression. 

Exercise can regulate gene expression by affecting DNA methylation. In particular, regular exercise can alter the methylation profile of certain genes, which in turn affects cellular functions. Some studies in the literature have also shown that exercise can cause changes in the structure of proteins called histones. These histone modifications control the activity of genes and contribute to the regulation of cellular responses. Due to its effects on energy metabolism, exercise is thought to regulate intracellular metabolic balance and influence epigenetic control. Exercise has also been shown to contribute positively to immunological health due to its epigenetic effects on the immune system. Thanks to regular exercise, with the effect of the right nutrients entering the body, the epigenetic profile is maintained in a regular and healthy way and the aging process is positively affected. 

An example of the effects of exercise on methylation is that resistance training can trigger epigenetic modifications that affect muscle development. These modifications direct adaptation processes by regulating gene expression in muscle cells.

At the end of this process, which started at the beginning of life in our mother’s womb and even before, I did not want to end this article without mentioning aging in this journey where each of us actually aims to live a long and more importantly healthy life and where we make it our mission to maintain a state of fitness within longevilab. I would like to talk about how we can solve the mystery of ‘biological age’ and how we can advance our biological age in the opposite direction or more slowly while our chronological age advances with the calendar leaves, and how the answer is hidden in epigenetics and telomeres. 

Methylation and Genetic Tests in Determining Biological Age

Biological age is a concept that more accurately reflects your chronological age as well as the aging process at the cellular level. Methylation is directly related to epigenetic changes and this plays an important role in determining biological age. Various genetic tests are available to understand and evaluate this process.

DNA Methylation Analysis: DNA methylation analysis evaluates methyl groups on genetic material. In particular, one of the epigenetic markers used in determining biological age is highlighted by a methodology called the Horvath Methylation Clock. This test predicts cellular aging by assessing methylation levels at specific gene locations.

Genetic Tests and SNP Analyses: Genetic tests that assess methylation levels may include SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) analyses. SNPs are genetic changes that determine genetic variations and can affect methylation levels in related genes.

IgG Glycan Structure Analyses: Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is an antibody that is an important part of our immune system. IgG glycans are the carbohydrate portions of IgG molecules and these glycans have a significant impact on the functioning of the immune system. Research shows that the aging process can affect IgG glycan profiles. IgG glycans can therefore be used as an indicator for determining biological age.

These tests have the potential to more accurately determine the biological age of individuals by examining their genetic makeup and epigenetic changes. However, research in this area is ongoing and more studies and standardization are needed to accurately determine biological age. The results of genetic testing should be interpreted by personal and genetic counseling experts and evaluated in the presence of a competent physician with a holistic approach integrated with the individual’s health status.

Telomere Length, Methyl-Rich Diet and Biological Age: An Integrated Approach

In my previous articles, I have talked at length about the link between telomere length and aging. I did not want to pass without mentioning that telomere length is also an important factor in determining the rate of biological aging. Recent studies have shown that proper nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient quality sleep are the most important factors in healthy aging and slowing down biological aging. In controlled scientific studies, we see that in addition to the Horvath methylation clock, the acceleration in telomere shortening is also evaluated. 

Telomere length is considered an indicator of cellular aging. The ability of cells to divide a limited number of times is directly linked to telomere length. Faster shortening telomeres can accelerate the aging of cells and contribute to the health problems associated with old age.

Some research suggests that a methyl-rich diet may slow cellular aging by maintaining telomere length. In particular, foods containing folate, vitamin B12 and methionine play a critical role in this process. A methyl-rich diet may reduce cell stress by exerting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Cell stress can accelerate telomere shortening. Therefore, foods containing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components can support telomere health.

On the other hand, exercise can increase antioxidant production and reduce inflammation in the body. In particular, there are studies showing that chronic inflammation accelerates the shortening of telomeres. Therefore, regular exercise can prevent telomere shortening by supporting cellular health.

Finally, when it comes to sleep, I would like to emphasize that quality and adequate sleep is one of the most important and critical factors for cellular and whole organism health. All studies in the literature have shown that sleep is the most obvious and definitive factor that slows down aging. The balanced nutrients we take into our bodies and regular exercise cannot fully fulfill their functions in the presence of inadequate and poor quality sleep. Disturbances in sleep patterns can increase stress levels, which can disrupt methylation patterns and lead to telomere shortening. Chronic stress can contribute to accelerated cellular aging and accelerated telomere length reduction. A healthy sleep pattern supports reparative processes in the body during sleep. These processes include regeneration and DNA repair at the cellular level. Good sleep can influence telomere length and gene expression by maintaining methylation patterns. Regular and adequate sleep can positively influence the aging process by helping to reduce stress and promote healthy cell renewal.

A balanced diet, consumption of anti-inflammatory foods, regular exercise and healthy sleep patterns contribute to healthy aging by maintaining methylation balance and telomere health. In my next article, I will share the information table, which is almost a prescription for all these according to the latest research in the literature and talk about the applications. See you soon.


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The information and statements on our website are not intended to guide individuals towards medical diagnosis and treatment. Please consult with your doctor for medical diagnostic and treatment procedures. The contents are shared for informational purposes only, derived from scientific studies prepared by EMC Medya Yayıncılık Ticaret Ltd. Şti.’s researchers, consultants, and authors/scientists, as well as compilations from publicly available publications. Our texts do not contain health statements related to medical diagnosis or treatment

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