What do Telomeres Have To Do With Your Health

I have had a lot of people ask me about telomeres.  In the past few years it has been discussed a lot because of it’s importance on aging.  There was a very good article from The Wall Street Journal that summed up information about telomeres. Telomeres are stretches of DNA at the end of our chromosomes that protect them from damage, like little protective caps.  In time, the telomeres wear away each time the cells would divide.  This becomes a problem when the telomeres become too short and the chromosomes can then fuse together and malfunction, causing the cells to die, which contribute to disease.

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What is unclear: are short telomeres a sign of cellular age or do short telomeres cause advanced aging? Telomere shortening is determined by a few things; heredity, environment and lifestyle. The article suggests that exercising, maintaining a healthy diet and weight and not smoking, controlling inflammation ( heart disease, arthritis, gut problems, diabetes, obesity and more) can slow the rate of telomere shortening.  There is an enzyme that can add more length to telomeres called  telomerase, but it is mostly found in sperm, egg and stem cells and cancerous tumors.  There is also no evidence that telomerase supplements help.

It is difficult to measure telomere length to tell you how long you may live. Some experts say that the telomeres have to be extremely short before they contribute to disease. I do work with a company that offers a Telomere length test.  I generally do not recommend this  since there isn’t much to compare it with, unless you repeat it at various intervals, were your telomeres long or short to begin with?   yet, all information and education about your make up is of importance. The bottom line is the same for staying healthy and avoiding age related diseases- exercise, eat healthy real food, control inflammation by eating well and staying hydrated, and living a balanced life with socialization, recreation and relaxation.

Be Well,

Mary

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