Health: Telomeres Affect Aging (and Exactly What Is a Telomere Anyway?)

Telomeres and Aging
By Wendy Hanlan
This post originally appeared on WendyHanlan.com

Okay, what is all the buzz about telomeres? I’m hearing that the research they’re doing on telomeres is going to completely change the anti-aging industry and the products that will be available to us. Am I interested? A resounding YES! I’ve decided to do some research on the subject of telomeres and aging and this is what I found out.

The scientific definition of telomeres: they are non-coding sequences of repetitive DNA at the end of chromosomes that are linked to human lifespan. The research that is being done right now, is all about seeking natural compounds that will turn on expression of telomerase, an enzyme that restores the length of telomeres.

Keeping telomeres long by reversing age-related shortening can potentially slow the onset of poor health and increase human lifespan. Watch the following video for a more in depth look at telomeres.

However, as we await the latest developments in anti aging strategies such as inducing telomerase activity, there are a few lifestyle changes we can make to slow down telomere shortening as much as possible.

Dr. Andrews, a molecular biologist who has studied aging at a molecular level for more than 15 years, shared seven of the best known ways science knows of now to slow down telomere shortening to live longer:

1. Don’t ever smoke. Smoking is not only hazardous to your lungs and cardiovascular health, but is also found to increase rate of telomere shortening, which can lead to dysfunction and instability of chromosomes.
2. De-stress your life. The more stress you have in your life, the greater risk of increasing the rate of telomere shortening and aging more quickly. How to slow it down? As simple as it might sound, the key is to always have a positive outlook on life. Plus, enjoy a vacation once in a while, enjoy friends and social activities, receive plenty of sleep every night, and try meditation.
3. Exercise regularly. By increasing amounts of physical activity, especially intense physical activity, research shows you could keep your telomeres long and healthy, even buffering the effects of chronic stress.
4. Get your antioxidants daily. When high amounts of free radicals attack cells (causing oxidative stress), they leave no stone unturned making chromosomes and their telomeres vulnerable to shortening. You can best protect yourself by getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet from eating fruits and vegetables daily and supplements.
5. Never go without fish oil. Fish oil contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that are well-known for being healthy to the heart, but recent evidence has shown that increasing amounts in the diet is associated also with slowing telomere shortening over time. You can get enough by eating fish a couple of times per week and by supplementing with long-chain omega-3s daily.
6. Get enough of the “sunshine vitamin.” Several discoveries have made vitamin D the most popular nutrient of the decade because of its many benefits including an association with longer telomere length. You can make sure you’re getting enough by practicing safe sun exposure and supplementing with vitamin D daily.
7. Practice safe weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to keep telomeres long.

What have you heard about telomeres and aging? Post your comments!

Vanessa McGradyHealth: Telomeres Affect Aging (and Exactly What Is a Telomere Anyway?)

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