Thousands of studies have been published on telomeres and telomerase. But have you heard of it?
Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect your chromosomes. You can think of them as the plastic tips at the end of your shoelaces.
Without the plastic tips, your shoelaces would become frayed and fall apart. Eventually, they no longer do their job. Similarly, without telomeres, your DNA strands would become damaged and won’t be able to do their job.
As you age, your telomeres shorten. This is because they cannot replicate completely each time your cell divides.
Growing evidence suggests that telomere shortening can inhibit your stem cell function, cellular regeneration, and organ maintenance, contributing to the dreaded aging process.
Short telomeres are a risk factor not just for death itself, but for many diseases such as type II diabetes, decreased immune response, neurodegenerative diseases, DNA damage, etc.
Until recently it was thought that you can’t do much about the length of your telomeres. Your telomere length has been seen as mere luck of the genetic draw.
However the good news is, it is now being shown that your lifestyle choices can have a direct and substantial impact on keeping your telomeres long and keeping aging at bay.
In other words, how you move and what you eat gives you control over how fast you age. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to age any faster than you have to. But you might just be doing that if you’re leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating junk food and always being overwhelmed with stress. No doubt that part of it will be genetically influenced, however the choices you make can with slow down or speed up your genetic clock!
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix or magic drug to preserve or lengthen your telomeres. It boils down to the usual exercise and nutrition.
There are two ways to preserve telomere length, either decrease its shortening or increase its lengthening. The key lies with an enzyme called telomerase that your body uses to keep your telomeres long and stable. With optimum exercise and nutrition, you’d be able to reduce damage to your telomeres and enhance your telomerase activity.
How your lifestyle can speed up or slow down your aging process
One of the most important factors damaging your telomeres is excessive oxidative stress which leads to inflammation. And this is why when you’re sleep deprived, have chronically high blood sugar or high blood pressure and any other activity that results in inflammation, your rate of telomere shortening increases.
What optimum exercise and nutrition can do for you
The key here is oxidative stress. With optimum exercise and nutrition, the activity of enzymes that fight oxidative stress in your body is increased.
Besides that, exercise also appears to increase the activity of telomerase in your body. This helps with telomere repairs and preserves its length. And if that’s not enough reason to ditch the sedentary lifestyle, exercise also helps to preserve the protein coat that surrounds and protects your telomeres.
Another powerful strategy that can help reduce your telomere shortening is to increase your glutathione levels. There are studies showing that increasing your glutathione levels can provide similar results to high-intensity exercise for preserving telomere length.
Glutathione is your body’s Master Antioxidant. What this means is that it not only helps your cells mob up free radicals, it also helps to recycle other antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, etc. With elevated glutathione levels, your body would be able to better deal with excess oxidative stress and thus reducing inflammation.
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