Telomere length and its biology is a concept still pretty much unknow for the vast majority of people, even though it has major impact on our overall health and life quality over the years.
The key point in this equation is that telomeres shortening rate can be positively impacted by our daily choices and habits. In the following lines you will discover some of the most important elements to have into account to set yourself on the right path towards your best self.
Aging is the accumulation of damage. Biological death takes place because a worn-out tissue cannot forever renew itself, a consequence of the fact that the capacity of cell division is not everlasting but finite. The main idea here is that there is a specific limitation on the number of divisions that somatic cells undergo in the course of an individual life.
Telomeres are known to be one of the major determinants of aging. They are the protective cap that prevents the ends of chromosomes from fusing to each other and allow chromosome ends to attach to the nuclear envelope. Long telomere lengths are related to greater longevity, while shorter lengths are related to aging diseases such as cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Telomerase enzyme can repair telomere attrition. The enzyme has protein subunit (hTERT) and an RNA subunit. It helps to maintain telomere length by adding telomeric repeats “TTAGGG” to ends of the chromosome during DNA replication.
Lifestyle plays an important factor in determining telomere length and telomerase activity. Factors such as obesity, stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, air pollution and low physical activity can significantly increase the rate of telomere shortening, cancer risk and affect longevity.
Here are 5 ways to maintain healthy telomere length which could significantly influence longevity:
According to a study conducted by NHANES, people who have high levels of physical activity showed a significantly longer telomere length compared to people who are sedentary or moderately active. Adults involved in high physical activity were determined to have a benefit of 9 years less of biological aging than their sedentary counterparts.
Healthy balanced diet
Obesity is related to high levels of oxidative stress. This condition causes DNA damage and increases the rate of telomere shortening. High percentages of body fat could activate adipocytokines that create oxidative stress on cells, damaging their chromosomes’ telomeres placed inside the cell’s nucleus. Hence maintaining a healthy weight and eating well is essential to foster and keep a healthy immune system, protecting telomere length. Food rich in antioxidants has a positive effect promoting antioxidants balance in your body, which protects DNA from oxidative stress.
Low telomerase activity and short telomere length have been associated with psychological, chronic and life stress in a number of studies. These factors were reported to significantly affect the length of telomeres, as well as telomerase activity, raising levels of oxidative stress in immune system cells. Stress affects catecholamine production which has a significant influence on the immune role that involves the NK cell activity and lymphocyte proliferation. Hence, when inflammation occurs and repair process is not effective, it could lead to disease pathogenesis. Once again, minimizing oxidative stress in the body becomes essential to maintain healthy telomeres.
There are some supplements that have been shown to decrease the effect of aging in our system. For example, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) as very powerful antioxidant properties. Vitamins C & E may limit oxidative damage to telomeric DNA that would otherwise cause shortening of telomere length. Magnesium deficiency is also accompanied by an increase in oxidative stress, as this element is required in the catalytic activity of a wide array of enzymes, including those involved in DNA replication, DNA repair and RNA synthesis. Similarly, dietary zinc deficiency is also associated with oxidative damage. Zinc supplementation reduces the incidence of infection, being this another factor that leads to telomere attrition by inducing higher cell turnover. Nevertheless, choosing the right supplements should be always done with the guidance of an expert.
Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption
Smoking contributes to increased oxidative damage and inflammation. This causes leukocyte telomere shortening by promoting excessive cell turnover and replicative senescence. People who smoke have been reported in studies to have a shorter telomere length than those who did not smoke. Additionally, different studies have linked excessive alcohol consumption with faster biological aging at a cellular level. Heavy use of alcohol is also associated with thiamine deficiency, more generally known as vitamin B1, an important nutrient for taking energy from food and turning it into energy for the brain, nerves and heart. Long term B1 deficiency leads to higher oxidative stress levels, with the associated effects on telomere length that have been already exposed.
To conclude, it is essential to remember that genetics factors accounts for just around 30% of an individual’s telomere length. Environmental factors, including lifestyle choices, play a much greater role on a person’s cellular health and aging process. Hence, we do certainly have a lot to do in order to maximize our health span and take our life potential to the point where it must be.
If you want to know how your diet and lifestyle components are impacting your cellular health and aging process, consider testing your telomeres with Life Length´s TAT® technology to set and keep yourself on the right path towards your best future.