What Telomeres Have to Do With Aging
Learn why protecting your telomeres will promote longevity
When it comes to fighting aging, most people’s first instinct is to focus on protecting specific parts of their body, such as their skin, their heart, or their memory. But the reality is, aging is a process that effects individual cells before it affects the systems composed of those cells. This means that the best way to slow overall aging is to slow cellular aging.
Because telomeres play a crucial role in cellular aging, comprehensive anti-aging measures will necessarily involve protecting telomeres.
What Are Telomeres?
Inside every cell is a nucleus with chromosomes that contain the genetic information necessary to replicate the cell as we grow and age. These chromosomes are capped with telomeres, which are repeating DNA sequences designed to protect the chromosomes against loss or damage during cell division. Basically, telomeres are sacrificial structures—they ensure that if a base pair must be lost, that pair will come from the telomere rather than from the essential genetic information in the chromosome.
In healthy adults, telomeres consist of about 7,000 to 9,000 base pairs. However, telomeres can lose anywhere from 25 to 200 base pairs at every cell division. Eventually, a chromosome’s telomeres can get so short that the cell can no longer replicate itself. In other words, the cell becomes exhausted and dies.
However, telomeres can be renewed through the action of telomerase. This enzyme elongates telomeres by adding new base pair sequences to them. In adults, telomerase is only active in regenerative stem cells and in cancer cells (which is why these cells are so hard to eradicate).
What Your Telomeres Say About Your Health
Telomere length can be used as an indicator of longevity and health. For example, researchers have found that the longer your telomeres are, the less likely you are to develop heart disease or cancer. In one 10-year study, the individuals with the shortest telomeres were three times more likely to get cancer than the individuals with the longest telomeres.
How to Protect Your Telomeres
The best way to protect your telomeres from shortening to the point where your cells become vulnerable is to reduce the stress and injury that force cells to divide more often than they should.
This can be accomplished by adopting a healthier lifestyle that is less stressful on the body. In particular, a healthy diet will reduce telomere-damaging processes like inflammation and oxidative stress.
Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet is an effective way to preserve telomere length and enhance longevity. This diet consists of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, beans, and unrefined grains, plus some fish and red wine. While these foods are packed with healthy antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that are very important for battling oxidative stress and promoting longevity, what’s most significant is what this diet is missing: sugars and refined carbs. By cutting out sugar and white flour, you can dramatically reduce the number of telomere base pairs sacrificed due to inflammation.
Want more information about protecting your telomeres? Ask Renew Youth™ for help. We can provide a variety of anti-aging products to help you look and feel younger.