HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: TELOMERS, AGING AND CORONAVIRUS

9 July 2020 Leave your Thoughts

In these times of well-being that we live, now agitated by the presence of the ruling virus, each one of us looks for the ingredients of the potion that brings us as close as possible to the desired immortality. It seems that reaching 100 years is the closest we can caress it and although there are very few lucky ones, we currently have around 15,000 centenarians in Spain and this figure is expected to continue doubling every ten years.

Ecologists, vegetarians, flexitarians or realfooders; runners, yoga, meditation and pilates practitioners; adept at coaching, retreats, fasts, acupuncture, hypnosis and many other physical and mental alternative therapies: all seek to live longer and better. Diet and physical and mental exercise are the three pillars of wellbeing and hakuna matata of the XXI century.

Each one, in his own way, with his fears and with his means, looks for the perfect formula to get to live the best and as long as possible, since it would be a little hypocritical for most of us not to admit that right or wrong, we want to live many years. And more than a hundred, if possible.

Each of us, in his own way, with its fears and with its means, looks for the perfect formula to get to live the best possible and as long as possible, since it would be a little hypocritical for most of us not to admit that right or wrong, we want to live many years. And more than a hundred, if possible.

Steps walked, calories burned, body temperature, heartbeat, sleep patterns, technology already helps many wellness followers to monitor their health performance. The most widely used wearables are smart watches (Apple watch, etc.) and wristbands that monitor physical activity and, although the level of satisfaction is very high among users, there are still highly desired and unsatisfied functions, such as handling stress levels, the ability to control blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Science helps us achieve our wishes as long as we know how to prevent and cure. There is a scientifically proven test that reveals the state of our current biological age and that could be very useful in the path of the desired longevity: Life Length’s telomere analysis test.

What are telomeres and why are they important for our health?

Telomeres are like the protective shields of cell DNA and reflect the strength of the immune system. Its name, of Greek origin, literally means “final part”, since telomeres are the protective caps found at the ends of chromosomes and protect our genetic information during cell division. For our bodies to heal and function properly, cells must divide to produce new cells to replace old, worn-out ones. Telomeres allow our cells to divide without damaging or altering their genetic information, but the capacity for cell division is finite and as our cells divide, these protective layers wear out until they reach a “critically” short length where they cannot guarantee that the “daughter” cells will be perfect copies and send the message to stop replicating or, in scientific words, go into senescence. With the passage of time and accelerated by damaging factors resulting from a less than optimal lifestyle, we have an increasing percentage of senescent cells. With the progressive loss of functional capacity at the cellular, organ and systemic level, that is, we age.

Telomeres play a very important role in creating age-related diseases, including cancer. Telomere length is the most critical biomarker for measuring aging.

What is the relationship between the state of my telomeres and COVID-19?

There are scientific and clinical studies that indicate that people with shorter telomeres and therefore a greater degree of aging have a greater possibility of suffering more severe consequences and even dying of infection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, regardless of the age. It is undeniable that a strong immune system is a guarantee when it comes to fighting both COVID-19 and any other virus or infection.

Why should I know the status of my telomeres?

The telomeric study is an excellent indicator of general health, revealing whether your cell age is greater or less than your actual age based on the length of your telomeres. Knowing your biological age is of vital importance, as it allows us to have better understanding of what kind of lifestyles influence aging and also offers us the opportunity to carry out the appropriate modifications and through periodic tests, measure the results.

There’s scientifically proof of the strong relationship between telomeres and cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, dementia, pulmonary fibrosis, major depressive disorders and some types of cancer, as well as infertility, type 2 diabetes and CNS diseases, among others. Telomere shortening is also related to certain lifestyle habits such as smoking, obesity, stress, and sedentary lifestyle. Other studies have revealed that individuals who have suffered situations of violence or abuse could have a very significant telomere shortening.

What happens to telomeres as we age?

When we are born our telomeres are longer and lose a little of their DNA with each cell division throughout our lives. In addition to normal cell replication processes, telomeres are also adversely affected by oxidative stress or cumulative damage over the years, the symptoms of which are premature aging. Our skin loses smoothness, wrinkles and blemishes appear along with the potential development of all diseases related to aging.

What is the reliability of this test?

Eighty years of research have produced a large number of publications that demonstrate the importance of telomere biology in aging and age-related diseases. The length of the telomeres depends on genetics, the environment and the lifestyle: who we are, how we live and where we live.

After many years of work, Life Length is the world leader in the field of telomere measurement and diagnostics with the highest standards of precision, and we serve clients and patients in more than 35 countries, from Japan to the United States. Our laboratory has developed its own high-processing technology, a robust, sensitive and scalable technique that can be combined with other analyzes to provide a complete picture of a person’s overall health and aging process.

What can I do to improve the condition of my telomeres?

The gradual shortening of telomeres in each cell division is an inevitable process, but it can be regulated through an enzyme called telomerase. Telomerase is the enzyme responsible for preventing critical shortening of telomeres, maintaining homeostasis of the content of chromosomes and is capable of regenerating telomere length to some extent, adding new base pairs to the end of the chromosome.

Many studies have shown that healthy lifestyle habits can positively affect the telomere shortening index, therefore we recommend that you:

1- Cultivate and maintain, as far as possible, good family and friendship ties. Loneliness also ages us. 
2- Maintain a healthy weight.
3- Try to be optimistic, negative people age faster.
4- Exercise regularly, stay active.
5- Meditate, do yoga, pilates or tai chi.
6- Manage stress, or at least try it. Leave problems at work at work and at home at home.
7- Eat a healthy diet and incorporate supplements such as omega-3 oil.
8- Moderate alcohol consumption.
9- Avoid tobacco smoke and gas emissions caused by traffic.
10- Take advantage of scientific advances and keep wanting to live longer and better.

Photographs: Luke Michael, Giovanni Corti & Rima Kruciene.


Life Length
is the most accredited clinical laboratory in Spain and is also the only national laboratory accredited by the US authorities. We offer telomeric analysis tests to doctors, patients, research centers and industry incorporating the measurement of telomeres and telomerase activity as key biomarkers in the field of health and longevity.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our laboratory has provided its comprehensive clinical analysis and testing services to help tackle the health crisis in Spain. We are working for hospitals, residences and corporate entities and we have contributed to the correct diagnosis of thousands of people and patients.

In our laboratory we carry out PCR tests to detect positive cases with a reliability of 99.9%, together with the most complete serology tests, the ELISA tests. We also offer the best quick test for the detection of IgM and IgG antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, with a sensitivity and specificity of 98.6% and 99.6% respectively.

 

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