There’s a lot of talk about Telomeres (tel-uh-meers) these days as we learn more about the biological aging process and what we can do to slow it. The good news, is that there are many things we can do to slow and in some cases even reverse aging, but let’s begin by understanding what telomeres are before we delve into those.
What is a Telemere?
Telomeres are an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age. They’re the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes… a little like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Without telomeres, our DNA strands can become damaged and our cells don’t function properly. DNA makes up the cells in our bodies. Cells replenish by copying themselves, but each time a cell copies itself, telomeres shorten. Over time, telomeres get too short to do their job, causing cells to cease functioning optimally and to age. They shorten as we age, but they can also be shortened by stress, obesity, inadequate exercise, and a sub-optimal diet.
Can we lengthen Telomeres?
Research suggests an enzyme known as telomerase can slow, stop and maybe even reverse aging-related telomere shortening. Exposing human cells to telomerase slows cell aging allowing cells to begin copying again and causing gene expression to change to a younger phenotype making cells function as younger ones.
What can YOU do to restore telomeres length?
To-date, research tells us there are lifestyle choices we can make to slow the loss of telomere length. They include: