Telomeres: The Overlooked Key to Solving the Puzzle of Aging
Telomeres. Until recently, this word was seldom mentioned in anti-aging circles.
Research scientists have been aware of telomeres since the 1930s when DNA researchers determined that telomeres played a role in stabilizing the ends of chromosomes.
However, it was not until the early 1980s that more information was uncovered and the anatomy and functions of telomeres became well-known.
But the role this fascinating substance plays in the battle against aging and other severe diseases was still not recognized. Recent research, however, has changed the entire equation, and the importance of telomeres is now finally realized.
What are Telomeres?
Telomeres are the caps at the end of our DNA strands. As mentioned earlier, they protect our DNA by adding stability. They act as boundaries between chromosomes. Without telomeres, our chromosomes would attach to each other, which would cause their structures to change. This would result in a broad range of health problems: inflammation, cancer, and aging.
Telomeres are named from a combination of two Greek words: telos (Greek for “end”) and meros (Greek for “part”).
Here’s an excellent way to understand their function. Think of the plastic ends of your shoelaces. They protect your laces and prevent them from fraying and falling apart. But eventually, with enough use, they wear out. When this happens, it’s time for new shoelaces.
Telomeres play a role similar to those plastic ends of your shoelaces. To keep us healthy, our cells must refill by making copies of themselves by dividing. The problem is that every species, including humans, has a finite number of cell divisions. When they reach the end, so do we.
With each division, our telomeres shorten. When telomeres stop protecting our cells, the door is open for cancer, inflammation and accelerated aging.
The Good News and the Bad News
Hopefully, you can now realize the crucial importance of telomeres. When they become worn out and frayed, they send signals to the cells to stop dividing.
This causes our tissues to have a harder time regenerating. The result is the increase in age-related diseases.
Therefore, the key to good health and longevity is to protect our precious telomeres. The good news is that our lifestyles can play a huge role in the health of our telomeres, both good and bad.
Numerous studies have concluded that oxidative stress — a build-up of dangerous molecules called free radicals — can speed up telomere shrinkage. As damage increases, telomeres are no longer able to carry out their protective role.
So How Can I Protect my Telomeres?
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to guard your telomeres against oxidative stress, thus allowing them to do their critical work.
Here are some proven ideas that you can start doing immediately:
- Get moving. Exercise and physical fitness are at the top of the list. Several studies have confirmed that exercise can keep your cells young, boost your oxygen capacity, reduce stress, improve circulation, help you get regular deep, restorative sleep, and lengthen your telomeres.
- Control stress. This is every bit as important as regular exercise. Meditation, prayer, yoga, tai chi, chi kung, nutritional supplements (phosphatidylserine, L-Theanine, Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), Magnesium, Valerian Root, Melatonin, Kava, Lemon Balm, and B vitamins) and adequate sleep are the foundations that help you deal with this potential killer. A small amount of stress is healthy. But left unchecked, stress can spread like wildfire in your brain and body — with devastating consequences. Controlling stress is crucial. Don’t neglect to address this vital step.
- Eat smart. Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables. They are jam-packed with anti-oxidants that will help your telomeres battle the effects of free radicals. Lean protein, a good multi-vitamin, healthy fats (olive oil, walnuts, almonds), green tea, and staying hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of water will round out a good nutritional foundation. This also means being strict and disciplined about nutritionally useless “junk foods” and processed foods. They are loaded with all types of toxic chemicals, sugar, and preservatives that are designed to maximize the profits of the big food companies — not your health. Be tough.
- Avoid the “super no-no’s.” Smoking, sodas, street drugs, and excess alcohol consumption are a wonderful way to shorten your telomeres…and die years or even decades before your time. Enough said.
- Consider Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Replacement Therapy. In a recent study at the University Hospital La Paz in Madrid, Spain, Dr. Gomez-Garcia and fellow researchers concluded that HGH boosted the enzyme telomerase. This enzyme plays a role in capping telomeres, thus preventing them from shrinking and allows them to continue their mission of repairing our DNA. High growth hormone levels have a definite correlation with telomere length.
The Choice is Yours
No question about it. More research scientists and medical professionals are finally recognizing that aging is a disease, and they are devoting more time and effort to understand it, slow it down, stop it, and eventually reverse it.
The cost of medical care in the United States is spiraling out of control at a frightening pace. If it is not reigned in, our country will eventually go bankrupt as a result of increasing lifespans due to medical technology but not comparable increasing health spans.
This means that we are living longer, but not healthier. Our life quantity is growing, but our life quality is suffering as a direct result of aging!
And this is far from a uniquely American problem. This applies to virtually every other nation in the world as well. In short, something has to be done to stop this monster.
We may be on the verge of enormous breakthroughs in the field of anti-aging and life extension.
Regrettably, however, the odds are that these earth-shaking developments will not occur overnight. We could be years and even decades away from finally uncovering aging’s deepest secrets.
Therefore, to stay around long enough to reap the benefits of anti-aging developments, the time to protect your telomeres is now.
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