Telomeres: Markers of Aging
By Sarah Axtell, ND • February 22, 2018
Telomeres are timekeepers in your cells. They are end caps of DNA strands that protect our genetic information. Picture the plastic ends of your shoelaces. In the same way, these plastic ends protect your shoelaces from fraying, telomeres protect genetic information. They allow cells to divide while holding the important genetic information intact.
As we age, telomeres shorten, and eventually cell division ceases. Shortened telomeres increase risk not just for wrinkles but also for heart disease, cancer and early death.
We have more control over telomere length than we think, thus influencing the aging process.
1. Reduce stress. A 2004 study compared healthy women who were mothers of healthy children (the control moms) and those who cared for chronically ill children (caregiving mothers). On average, the caregiving mothers had telomeres that were 10 years shorter than the control moms.
2. Exercise. In a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANEs) study, researchers studied 60 different types of physical activity among 5,800 adults to assess effect on telomere length. It was concluded that high levels of exercise is associated with a telomere length indicative of 9 years reduced cellular aging compared to those who are sedentary.
3. Eat antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in colorful fruits and vegetables. Aim for all different colors of the rainbow on your plate, such as deeply pigmented berries, ruby red grapefruit, green avocados, and dark green spinach and kale. Also, green tea is an anti-aging elixir! Aim for 2-3 cups per day.
4. Practice Meditation and Yoga. 2014 study among breast cancer survivors: those who participated in mindful meditation and practiced yoga kept their telomeres at the same length; the telomeres of the control group, who did neither activity, had shortened during the study time.
You can actually measure telomere length! We offer this test at Lakeside Natural Medicine.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.