How to Harness the Power of Biology & Telomeres to Age Significantly Better

The breakthrough that has now finally been uncovered

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Who doesn’t want to look, feel, and age significantly better?

The global cosmetics industry generated $380.2 billion in 2019 and that number is expected to skyrocket to almost $463 billion by 2027.

The global wellness market is worth a staggering $3.4 trillion.

Especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are becoming the pilot of their own health.

People are now understanding that it is up to them to make changes in their life to become more healthy and protect themselves from diseases in the future.

We as humans can do everything in our power to improve our bodies but there is one thing that we thought we had no control over until recently and that is telomeres.

The Power of Telomeres

Telomeres are short, repeated sequences of DNA that are found at the ends of our chromosomes. They protect the ends of our chromosomes like a cap and allow the chromosome to be replicated properly during cell division.

Each time a cell divides, DNA replication has to also occur but during this process, about 25–200 bases are disposed per replication.

However, the ends are protected by telomeres and so the telomere DNA gets lost and the chromosomal DNA remains intact.

This also means that each time the cell divides, the telomeres get progressively shorter until the telomeres become too short at which point the chromosomes cannot be replicated and the cell stops dividing and dies.

However, this pattern isn’t seen in cancer cells where these cells divide indefinitely without stopping.

The reason is because cancer cells use the enzyme telomerase.

Telomerase is responsible for the maintenance of the length of telomeres by the addition of repetitive sequences.

Telomerase is active in gametes (sperm & egg) and cancer cells while being notably absent in human somatic cells.

A normal human cell can divide roughly 40–60 times before growing old and eventually dying.

However, cancer cells exhibit “replicative immortality” which means they can divide many more times than a typical / normal cell in the body.

When telomere length falls below around 4000 base pairs, problems start arising such as a rise in pro-inflammatory signals and increased incidence of diseases.

The reason is that cells become senescent due to over-shortening of the telomeres, which means they “age” and lose their functions.

The accumulation of these senescent cells is what drives normal human aging and contributes to organ decline and increased disease incidence in the future.

Short telomeres have been associated with a number of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, organ decline, human aging, etc.

Human aging such as the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, decreased immune function, increased susceptibility to diseases, decreased organ function, etc. can all partly be attributed to the shortening of telomeres as we age.

What should we do?

Now that you have some information about human biology, you might be wondering how can you get some more telomerase in the body.

However, at the present moment, there is no way you can get more telomerase.

But it turns out there are some ways we can reduce the susceptibility of our telomeres to shortening and in this process, it could be possible to delay our internal aging and help us age better.

Healthy diet

It all comes back to your diet, doesn’t it? As we age, oxidative stress and our susceptibility to diseases rises and so it is important that we have the proper intake of healthy foods that will provide our body with enough vitamins and nutrients to keep it functioning.

One study showed that a healthy diet that protects against cellular aging is:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Dairy products
  • Low in processed and junk food

Regular Exercise

Exercise is like a magic pill for the body. Regular exercise assists in the body’s removal of toxins while also reducing oxidative stress which can damage and destroy cells.

One study showed that people who have consistently high levels of physical activity have significantly longer telomeres than people who have sedentary lifestyles.

Another study found that active male runners who were in their 50s had almost the same telomere length as men in their 20s while men in their 50s who led sedentary lifestyles had telomeres that were shorter by 40%.

Manage Stress

Stress is one of the biggest killers in our modern world and it’s simply because stress significantly increases the susceptibility of the human body to diseases and our immune system literally shuts down during periods of chronic stress.

As we age, oxidative stress and inflammation start to rise in our body and this is what starts to fuel cellular aging and destruction.

Being chronically stressed only adds fuel to the fire and can shave off a significant portion of the length of telomeres if not acutely and chronically managed.

Research has found that chronic stress results in an increased secretion of cortisol that leads to a rise in blood sugar and blood pressure.

Over time, chronic cortisol release suppresses telomerase activity in immune system cells so that telomeres shorten much quicker.

Maintain a healthy weight

Having a healthy weight is a good way to reduce the risk of diseases simply because being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, etc.

Not only that, but research has shown that loss of telomeres in obese individuals is approximately a loss of 8.8 years of life.

Obesity increases inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body and this double impact can lead to accelerated telomere shortening.

Losing weight can be protective for your telomeres and one study showed how it can have an effect on breast cancer survivors.

This study showed that telomeres shortened slower in breast cancer survivors who had lost weight through diet and exercise. Telomere shortening even reversed in some cases.

Quit smoking & reduce intake of alcohol

Smoking is extremely bad for the body as everyone knows and it’s not surprising to know that it badly damages our cell’s DNA and contributes to increased telomere shortening.

When a study compared smoking behaviors over 16 years, a clear link between smoking and shortened telomeres was found in both men and women.

What about alcohol?

Generally, the more alcohol one drinks, the greater the risk of certain diseases. Excessive alcohol use has been linked with a number of diseases and cancers.

One study showed that alcoholic patients have a shortened telomere length which leads to increased cellular aging.

Alcohol is a well-known mitochondrial toxin which over time impairs the proper function of mitochondria (power house) which can lead to oxidative stress, increased cell damage, and shortened telomeres.

Takeaways

Throughout this article, we have seen that it is indeed possible to somewhat influence our natural aging and susceptibility to diseases.

No, that doesn’t mean we can become immortal but we can reduce the damage we do to our bodies over time by making the right choices.

Much of what was discussed in this article showed how we treat our bodies health wise goes a long way in determining our health status in the future.

Getting regular exercise, decreasing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking are all stuff that we have been told before.

But it turns out following these health steps affects your body in the molecular and cellular level as well. This helps prevent your telomeres from shortening too fast and keeps your health in check.

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Samir S.

Samir S.

Writing to Inform, Educate, & Teach | Obsessed with Health & Wellness | https://samir-s.medium.com/subscribe