Have you heard of your telomeres? Scientific research has accumulated to show that these small protein structures capping the ends of our DNA are the keys to perpetual health and well-being.
Telomeres protect our DNA strands, help them maintain their structure and prevent them from breaking down. down. As the cells divide to replicate, the DNA splits as well and a tiny bit of telomere is lost. The more we live, the more we go through cell divisions, and the shorter the telomeres.
What we are learning now are the lifestyle factors that could be involved in speeding up this process. Research indicates that shorter telomeres are associated with shorter lifetimes.
According to the National Institutes of Health, here are the main lifestyle factors that correspond to shorter telomeres:
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: eating well could lead to a longer life. A handful of studies have examined details with limited results. Longer telomeres were associated with richer dietary fiber, higher antioxidants (such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and omega-3) and lower protein intake. Shorter telomeres have been associated with higher consumption of unsaturated fats, particularly omega-6. An interesting point was observed in animal studies: a lower overall food intake was associated with a longer life span. Although this has not yet been observed in people, the researchers have suggested that it might be due to the limitation of normal free radicals produced during digestive and dietary processes. Free radicals can damage DNA, which researchers say could shorten telomeres. Keep in mind that this handful of studies are not yet considered a consensus and that these relationships do not necessarily mean that eating more fiber will result in longer telomeres! Health is much more complicated than that. What we have is the ability to watch scientific evidence come together in real time, instead of waiting decades for the final verdict.
Should you change the way you eat? No – continue to strive for the general model of Dietary Guidelines for Americans: primarily whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat / herbal proteins, and a variety of fats and nutrients. oils. If you are concerned about the amount of food that’s right for you, contact a dietitian for a personalized nutritional assessment!
Higher levels of adipose tissue in the body were associated with shorter telomeres. Scientists have suggested that this may be due to higher levels of free radicals in adipose tissue, and not enough antioxidant activity to neutralize them – up to 8.8 years removed from a duration of life! Studies in this area are limited, and these results should not be considered conclusive.
Maintain a healthy weight by taking 30-60 minutes of activity a day and following the nutritional tips above! Concentrate on colorful products full of antioxidants and aim for 5 servings a day.
Exercise is excellent for the body and mind in many ways, and it is not surprising to find that with a longer life span. The researchers suggested a two-part reasoning. First of all, it helps manage body fat composition, eliminating some of the extra activity of free radicals that could damage the DNA. It also seemed to lead to greater stabilization of the telomeres themselves, with additional protein structures. For the greatest benefit, follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization for 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity a week, with at least 2 days of total bodybuilding.
Here is another known culprit. Hormones released during periods of stress can reduce the effectiveness of antioxidants – again, leading to free radical damage to the DNA. In a limited number of studies, the researchers matched that to 10 years of life. In addition to physiological changes, high levels of stress can prevent us from engaging in other basic restorative practices; namely sleep, exercise and good nutrition. Think about your self-care practices and the frequency of your activities. Review the areas of your life that create the most stress: what changes can you make, or what limits can you set, to start preserving more time for yourself? Consider finding a licensed mental health service provider to help you find a balance.
Genetics and some diseases have been shown to correlate with telomere length. These are the factors beyond our control. But we can focus on what we have the ability to handle: nutrition, exercise and stress levels. To keep these telomeres long, healthy and happy for life!