Researchers behind Netflix’s new ‘You Are What You Eat: A Twin Experiment’ study give additional context to pro-vegan findings

LEXINGTON, Ky., Jan. 5, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — As Netflix’s newly released docuseries ‘You Are What You Eat: A Twin Experiment’ catches the attention of nutrition and health experts alike, researchers behind the Stanford sponsored study say context is crucial when determining key takeaways from the novel experiment.

In a medRxiv preprint study titled ‘Unveiling the Epigenetic Impacts of Vegan vs. Omnivorous Diets on Aging: Insights from the Twins Nutrition Study (TwiNS),’ researchers from Stanford University and DNA methylation laboratory TruDiagnostic evaluated epigenetic profiles of participants featured in the Netflix docuseries; discovering novel connections between dietary regiments and epigenetic aging.

The experiment set out to answer the question of whether a healthy omnivorous or vegan diet would produce better health outcomes and metrics for various sets of twins over an eight week period; in which vegan participants saw a reduction in biological age across multiple age-calculating algorithms. These algorithms use DNA methylation to quantify biological age, and many show association to disease risk and overall health, thus making them informative clinical tools to assess aging and health.

“These groundbreaking findings underscore the potential of epigenetic clocks as real-time biomarkers, offering valuable insights into physiological changes, exemplified by weight loss in this study,” explains Dr. Lucia Aronica of Stanford University. “However, it is crucial to stress that a vegan diet lacks essential nutrients for optimal epigenetic processes. Without proper supplementation, there’s a risk of long-term damage. As scientists, it is our duty to communicate this message clearly and emphatically, ensuring the public is well-informed about the nuances of dietary choices for their overall health,” Aronica continued.

The discrepancy between the seemingly pro-vegan results, and long term impacts to epigenetic, biological aging rests in the study’s short-term nature, spanning only two months for twin participants. Additionally, “the reductions that we see could also be due to the fact that the vegans had a lower caloric intake, relative to the omnivores, and also had increased fiber in their allocated diets,” explained Varun Dwaraka, PhD of TruDiagnostic. “However, the fact that there was a significant decrease in multiple biological age clocks within eight weeks in the vegan diet is encouraging for short term diet application, and highlights the sensitivity of this test in nutrition.”

About TruDiagnostic

Home to the largest, private DNA methylation database in the world, TruDiagnostic is a leading health data company and CLIA-certified laboratory that specializes in epigenetic testing and research. In partnership with notable biotech developers, researchers, and academic institutions, we are transforming the healthcare potential of epigenetic data into actionable applications. We aim to improve people’s lives by arming patients and physicians with novel biological insights; enabling them to make the right lifestyle and medical decisions through information found in the fluid epigenome. With the ability to analyze more than 1,000,000 locations on one’s DNA, our TruAge biological aging tests provide the most in-depth results, and multi-omic correlations to accelerated aging.

Emilie Arroyo, Media Relations
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