Like your genetic candle, telomeres wear down with every cell division, accelerated by oxidative stress and inflammation.
When they wear down fully, the cell can no longer divide and will die. We know smoking, poor diets, inadequate sleep, excessive alcohol, and over-exercise can accelerate telomere shortening.
Psychosocial conditions and environmental toxins also impact telomeres so addressing poverty, abuse, and environmental controls against pollutants in our air, water, and food supply are critical to our collective health.
Telomeres & Telomerase
Telomeres were discovered in the 1930s, but Nobel Prize-winning research by Elizabeth Blackburn, Jack Szostak and Carol Greider just over a decade ago uncovered the enzyme, telomerase, responsible for maintaining and even lengthening telomeres.
This set off a research frenzy to uncover strategies or chemicals to support telomerase with hopes of slowing or even reversing aging.
Many expensive products emerged promising to reverse or decelerate aging. Telomeres provide an objective way to prove results. Although we have not promoted telomere testing for most, given we are still learning what we can actionably do to support them, I have monitored my own telomeres for over a decade and am happy to find they are getting longer.
How to Positively Influence the Aging Process
At 57, my telomeres were equivalent to a 25-year-old. How? By simply practicing what we preach. Primarily:
- Eating a whole-food, plant-based Mediterranean diet
- Fasting 12+ hours daily
- Daily meditation practice (one of the few things proven to lengthen telomeres)
- Moderate daily exercise
- Healthy sleep
- Never smoking
- Taking a few supportive nutrients (specifically Thorne Resveracel which we carry in office)
We continue to monitor research on other drugs, nutrients, and strategies but I am proof that you need not spend a fortune or go to extreme lengths.
Bottom line, you cannot medicate around an unhealthy lifestyle. Let your provider know if you are interested in evaluating your telomeres.