How healthy are your telomeres? These are DNA strands at the end of chromosomes that help to protect a person’s genetic data. It’s believed telomeres are important for slowing aging, preventing cancer, and even lowering the risk of death. Experts have compared these things to plastic tips found on shoelaces. That’s because they help to protect chromosomes and keep them stuck together. That helps to protect the genetic data stored in the chromosomes. So, there’s no question it’s important to protect these things and learn how to lengthen telomeres. When we can do that then it’s easier to enjoy better health and longer life.
It’s critical to know the ways you can protect telomeres and keep chromosomes together. There are many ways you can do that. It’s basically about living a healthy life. That includes eating nutritious food, exercising regularly, reducing stress, and so on. When we do those things and get a good night’s sleep, we usually don’t think about how it affects our bodies on a molecular level. However, it’s important to keep it in mind until somebody finds the Fountain of Youth. You can even use testing kits to find out if your telomeres are long or short compared to other people your age.
What Are Telomeres?
Before we talking about the length of telomeres it’s important to talk about what they’re all about. These are DNA strings located on the end of chromosomes. Those are twisted DNA molecules.
The jobs of telomeres include helping cells divide, and protecting genetic info. They also contain info about things like cancer and how people age.
Telomeres are important for helping to keep chromosomes from getting damaged and separating from each other, which keeps genetic data together. Those are all good things!
One way to think of telomeres is as the plastic tips that are located on the end of shoelaces. The problem is when cells divide. This results in telomeres getting shorter and if they get too short then the cell can’t divide anymore.
If the telomeres become too short it eventually causes cells to die. This results in some bad results that involve issues like aging and cancer. It’s worth noting that telomeres don’t shorten in some areas of the body like the heart muscle where cells don’t keep dividing.
Why do chromosomes have telomeres? It helps to prevent e key part of the chromosome from shortening every time a cell divides. This helps to prevent the chromosome from shedding genes.
Does this mean that it’s a bad thing if cells divide? In fact, it’s important for growing things like blood, skin, bone, and so on. However, without telomeres, the ends of chromosomes would stick together and mess up the genetic data of the cell. This can cause a world of trouble including cell death.
Broken DNA is a serious situation. That’s why telomeres are so important. They basically tie up loose ends and prevent cells from fixing DNA that looked like it was broken. This would also prevent the cells of dividing and they’d within they’d die.
How Do Telomeres Affect Disease and Aging?
The length of telomeres can have an effect on factors like the aging process and various diseases. Here are some of the main things it affects:
When a cell starts to get infected with cancer it starts dividing more frequently. Another result is telomeres also become super short. If they become too short then the cell might die. In some cases, the cells escape death by making a special telomere enzyme that keeps the telomeres from becoming shorter.
Many kinds of cancer include shorter telomeres. So, it might be one way that doctors can diagnose cancer patients. If scientists can figure out how to stop the DNA strings from getting shorter then it might be possible to kill cancer cells by making them age faster.
There’s a caveat. The process of blocking telomeres could have negative effects on other things. That includes stuff like blood cells, wounds, and the immune system.
Studies show that shorter telomeres are linked to shorter lives. For example, among people aged 60+, the ones with short telomeres were 8x more likely to die from an infectious disease.
Researchers are learning more about short telomeres. For example, are they caused by old age or does old age cause them? Scientists aren’t sure yet. What’s clear is keeping them longer can lengthen your life.
For example, lab research has shown that keeping telomeres long can help cells to keep dividing. That, in turn, can help prevent cancer cells from attacking them.
There are certain diseases that cause telomeres to get shorter faster. This causes people to age faster and dies sooner. There’s also a higher risk of health conditions like blood cancer, liver problems, and lung damage.
In fact, these diseases can cause other signs of aging. They include bald heads, gray hair, skin spots, bone softening, etc. This is caused when tissue cells keep dividing.
How to Lengthen Telomeres
Exercise more often
It’s important to exercise at least 30 minutes per day. An interesting study showed that people who do moderate aerobic exercise have similar telomere lengths as marathon runners. “Moderate” means 45 minutes of exercise 3x/week.
Try dietary supplements
Some supplements claim they can boost the telomere enzyme that helps to build them. One 2009 study showed that a supplement known as TA-65 boosted telomere length in mice. Just be ready to plunk down about $600 for a 3-month supply of the stuff.
Use a telomeres testing kit
OK, technically this won’t make the DNA strings longer but it can help to determine if you need to make some lifestyle changes. These tests show whether your telomeres are average, shorter, or longer for your age.
There’s something to keep in mind. There’s some debate about whether or not the info provided by some tests is accurate. So, make sure to do some research to pick a good kit.
Boost NAD+ levels
NAD+ is an enzyme that’s in every single cell of your body. Studies show that NAD+ levels dip when people get older. Some options to boost it include an 18/6 or 20/4-hour fasting/eating cycle and NAD+ supplements.
Eat your veggies (and good fats)
Studies show that eating both these kinds of food are important for boosting telomere length. For example, one study showed that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids achieved that goal.
Another one showed that short telomeres can be linked to low levels of Vitamins A, C, and E. The US government recommends that at about half your daily diet include fruits and veggies.
Maintain a healthy weight
One study showed that shorter telomeres in obese/overweight people resulted in a 9-year shorter lifespan. Obesity puts stress on your body. It’s easier to recover from cell damage if you lose weight as a method for how to lengthen telomeres.