• Siri DeMarche

Telomeres: Hacking the Fountain of Youth?

Updated: Feb 18

*As always, scroll to the end for a TLDR synopsis*


Is it possible to reverse the aging process without external pharmaceuticals? Or at least slow it down? There is extremely promising research being conducted based on the findings of 2012 Noble Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka. But it could be decades before anything tangible hits the mainstream market and is affordably accessible. Shinya Yamanaka discovered that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent (pluripotent cells can give rise to any type of cell in the body). This is wickedly important, because it was previously understood that although pluripotent stem cells can mature into any type of cell in the body, the process could not be reversed. Read more about his research here. His discovery has tremendous implications for creating longer and more youthful lifespans, if successfully brought to human trial. The future is optimistic, but it is not today. So what can we do today to increase our vitality and slow the aging process?


By understanding our telomeres and their association with premature aging, we can understand how to keep ourselves young. A telomere is a specific strand of DNA that forms a cap at the two ends of each chromosome, keeping the chromosome from fraying at the ends every time it is replicated during cell division. When there are no telomeres to protect them, the chromosomes become tangled and damaged. Because chromosomes are the genetic bundles that provide the blueprint for our bodies, if they are damaged and tangled they result in poorly constructed cells and therefore older and less resilient bodies. Longer telomeres are more protective to the chromosomes than shorter ones are. Thus longer telomeres are associated with a longer lifespan, while shorter telomeres are associated with aging and disease. Hence, it is in our best interest to keep our telomeres long and healthy.


Every time a cell divides, telomeres get shorter. Eventually they will stop dividing and die. Telomerase is the enzyme that repairs the proteins and prevents the shortening of telomeres. It is the job of telomerase to lengthen the telomeres on the end of chromosomes. Overtime this enzyme degrades, making it harder for the body to continually extend its protective chromosome caps. Because shorter telomeres are associated with premature aging and disease (several rare diseases are characterized by short telomeres), preventing the degradation of the reparative telomerase is essential to maintaining longer and healthier telomeres. An article in the 2010 Nature journal describe this process as it pertains to mice. In summary, mice that were genetically engineered without telomerase aged prematurely. When telomerase was then introduced, the mice began reverse aging in real time (read the full article here).


While we can't reverse our aging process yet, we can slow it down. There are a variety of lifestyle changes that are strongly correlated with promoting telomere length and longevity. Here are a few:


-Manage and reduce chronic stress

(Read more here and here)

-Regular exercise

(Read more here and here)

-Eat a variety of foods high in vitamins, important micronutrients, & phytochemicals to reduce cell damage and eradicate inflammation

(Foods high in Vitamin C & E, anthocyanins, and polyphenols to protect DNA from oxidative stress. See list of food sources below.)

-Avoid sugary and highly processed foods

(The average American consumes 70lbs of added sugar/year. And yet, our cells are not naturally making the energy that it should. The added sugar is causing our mitochondria to be weighed down by the oxidative stress, making it harder to produce ATP- our body's energy currency that is used in intracellular activities & transactions)



TLDR

Telomeres are the caps on the ends of chromosomes that keep the chromosomes from tangling and getting damaged. Every time a cell divides, it's chromosomes are replicated. If damaged and tangled chromosomes are replicated, premature aging and the onset of disease in apparent. By maintaining long telomeres, the chromosomes do not get tangled and damaged, and healthy chromosomes are replicated. Telomerase is the enzyme that elongates the chromosome by adding telomeres to its ends. Over time, this enzyme degrades and the result is shortened telomeres. To prevent premature aging and the onset of disease, here are a few things that you can do;

-Manage and reduce chronic stress

-Regular exercise

-Eat a variety of foods high in vitamins to reduce cell damage

-Avoid sugary and highly processed foods



--> Shoot me a message for ideas on how to reduce chronic stress, incorporate regular exercise into your schedule, vary your palate to incorporate essential nutrients, and/or ways to reduce added sugar intake. Always happy to help! <---




Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or any other medical body. I do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.




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