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Aging

Aging

The word telomeres is derived from two Greek words telos that means end and meros that means part.

Telomeres are a core component of human cells, and they affect how cells age over time. They are found at the end of each strand of DNA, and their main role is to protect chromosomes found in the DNA.

The existence of telomeres was first predicted by Alexey Oloynikov – a Soviet biologist in 1973. The biologists also suggested telomeres’ connection to cancer and the telomere hypothesis of aging. It was in 1984 that Carol Greider’s and Elizabeth Blackburn’s Nobel Prize winning discovery that the telomerase enzyme is responsible for regulating telomeres.

There are two mechanisms through which telomere activity is controlled. Those are through addition and erosion. The enzyme telomerase determines addition of the telomere… while erosion occurs during mitosis (cell division).

Many practitioners in the medical field acknowledge telomeres are responsible for the aging process. Telomere growth is also linked to the following diseases and conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • More

Role of Telomeres

The role of telomeres is similar to that of the plastic tips found at the end of a shoelace – to protect the shoelace from fraying. Without telomeres, DNA strands would be exposed and eventually would be damaged and wouldn’t be able to do their job. DNA contains vital information… and telomeres protect this information.

Over time, cells divide, and this causes the telomeres to shorten. They shorten up to a point where cell division can’t take place anymore. As cells divide, the core DNA remains intact. However, since cell division can’t take place anymore, the cells stop functioning and start aging. In essence, telomeres are responsible for the aging process. The aging process that is caused by telomeres is biological rather than chronological.

How are Telomeres measured?

Telomeres are measured based on the telomere length in the white blood cells of a patient (T-lymphocytes). It is referred to as the Patient Telomere Score. A high telomere score means the cells of the patient are ‘younger’. A desirable telomere score is one that is above the average line.

External factors that affect telomere growth

The aging process shortens telomeres naturally. However, there are other factors that can shorten your telomeres and lead to aging faster than expected. These include:

  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • A poor diet
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption

Obesity

Obesity is caused by a high intake of food whose calories are retained in the body, since an individual doesn’t utilize the calories. Consumption of a diet high in fats and sugars contributes highly to obesity. According to Tim Spector of St. Thomas Hospital in London, obesity affects an individual’s telomeres. And a lean person has an extra 8.8 years of aging as compared to an obese person.

Research conducted by Spector also revealed that the link between high concentrations of leptin and telomere shortening was stronger than that of obesity. Leptin is a hormone that inhibits appetite. Obese people are resistant to this hormone and have it in higher levels.

Smoking

According to Specter, smokers are 4.6 years older biologically as compared to nonsmokers. Heavy smokers who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day for a span of 40 years are biologically older by 7.6 years.

However when an individual smokes and is obese, the results are worse. An obese smoker is on average 10 years older than a non-smoker. Free radicals are responsible for causing damage to the telomeres. Smoking and obesity are a source of free radicals, since it causes oxidative stress.

Coffee

A study done by researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology showed that taking copious amounts of coffee results in shortening telomeres. The amount of coffee that resulted in shortening of telomeres was equal to the amount of caffeine found in a shot of espresso. In contrast, moderate consumption of alcohol lengthens telomeres. The researchers found that when telomeres were exposed to an alcohol solution of 5 and 7 percent, they increased in length.

Stress

Research at Tel Aviv University showed that emotional stress resulted in aging, since it generated free radicals in the cells. Shorter telomeres in leukocytes (antibody cells that help in fighting diseases) are directly linked to causing stress.

Taking Care of your Telomeres - What can you do?

Anti-aging Therapies

  1. Meditation – Meditation improves one’s mental health, cognitive flexibility and reduces blood pressure… and therefore an individual ages naturally. A 2010 study showed that people who went for meditation for 3 months had higher telomerase activity, and this resulted in reduced neuroticism and increased mindfulness. Meditation has been found to reduce stress by promoting positive psychology.
  2. Fish oil supplements – Take 2 to 3 capsules or 1 teaspoon twice daily with your meals totaling about 2.4 grams per day. A study in 2010 in the University of California, San Francisco showed that patients with coronary artery disease had low levels of fish oil, and their telomeres shortened faster as compared to those with high levels of fish oil (omega-3 fatty acid) in their bodies.
  3. Exercise – People who exercise regularly have telomeres that are longer. This can be through one yoga class per week, 1-2 interval cardio sessions and 30 minute strength training.
  4. Astragalus – This traditional Chinese herb boosts the immune system. Research has shown that some specific types of astralagus molecules – astragalosides and cycloastragenols activate the telomerase enzyme, therefore encouraging growth of telomeres.
  5. Vitamin D3 – Spend more time in the sun to get Vitamin D. Research by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that individuals with higher concentrations of Vitamin D had longer telomeres. Recommended supplemental dosage is 5,000mg per day of Vitamin D3.
  6. Resveratrol – This compound that is found in red wine decreases fat cells and improves blood cell function. Take a glass of red wine a day or 1 or 2 capsules of resveratrol supplement daily. Pterostilbene is even be more powerful.
  7. Eat a balanced diet

    To avoid obesity which directly leads to aging, eliminate these foods and additives from your diet:

    • Sugars
    • Fast foods
    • Refined carbohydrates
    • Saturated fat
    • Processed foods
    • High fat dairy products
  8. Minimize alcohol consumption to one to two drinks per day
  9. Reduce caffeine intake
  10. Reduce sugar intake
  11. Sleep 8 hours everyday
  12. Manage your chronic stress

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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