Telomeresare the structures at the end of chromosomes used to protect them from deterioration. As we age, our chromosomes shorten leading some scientists to believe this corresponds with aging and ultimately our death.
So what does a shorter telomere imply?
So what does a shorter telomere mean health-wise? In men, shorter telomeres can lead to pulse pressure and pulse wave velocity, stiffer atherosclerotic arteries, idopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and bone marrow failure. Some diseases with premature aging, such as Werner syndrome, are associated with telomere dysfunction.
So can you lengthen telomeres?
Telomerase is an enzyme that protects the telomeres and can actually synthesize new telomere length. If you activate this enzyme in mice, reversal in organ atrophy, brain atrophy, hair greying, and osteoporosis was seen.
So how can we improve our telomere length?
Patients who had a low-fat, whole food, plant-based diet with moderate aerobic exercise and mediation and relaxation had not only less stress and improved LDL’s but improved telomerase activity. Smoking is known to shorten telomere length as well.
So while it may seem obvious that a person who smokes, doesn’t exercise and is under psychological stress will likely age worse than one who lives a healthy, stress-free lifestyle, knowing science is starting to support this view should lead us all to strive to make the time and effort to do our best to live the healthiest lives we can.