The human DNA is packed with genetic information, lending us our specific characteristics and traits, defining the way the body functions throughout life. Telomeres are important predictors of age and longevity. Telomere health is an important factor to consider in keeping the body healthy, slowing down aging and ensuring a long life.
Dr. Adonis has enabled numerous patients to understand their body, the aging process, and how their telomere health has contributed to it. He counsels and guides them to formulate methods to keep their body healthier and form strategies to combat aging effectively.
If you are among those who want to look and feel young and healthy from the inside out, ensure you make an appointment with our clinic today. Your genes and you can experience a new lease of life!
What Are Telomeres?
Telomeres are genetic structures located at the end of chromosomes and are small sections of the DNA that repeat over and over. The repetition can reach anywhere from 3,000 to 15,000 base pairs.
The Function of Telomeres
Telomeres serve many functions in the body:
- They help form the arrangement of all 46 chromosomes in the nucleus of the cell
- They ensure proper replication of the chromosomes during cell division. By preventing loss of DNA during DNA replication and ensuring that telomeres are the only parts that are lost, they preserve essential elements of the DNA and prevent genes from being lost entirely
- They protect the chromosomes. A cap-like structure at the end of the chromosome ensures that the chromosomes do not stick to one another
The Aging of Telomeres
Telomeres age just as the body does. During the process of cell division, few base pairs of telomeres are lost from the end of each chromosome. On an average, a cell can lose between 25 and 200 bases each time. Thus, with each subsequent division, telomeres become shorter. At a stage when telomeres become too short and cannot be replicated anymore, commonly referred to as critical length, the cell dies through a process called apoptosis or programmed death. Another reason for the loss of telomeres is oxidative stress, which is brought on by factors like smoking, stress, and diet. About 50 to 100 base pairs of telomeres are lost during cell division as a result of oxidative stress.
The enzyme in telomeres, known as telomerase, allows cells to multiply and prevent aging. The actions of telomerase are as follows:
- Telomerase is found in our somatic cells, albeit in low concentrations. As telomerase is not used regularly by these cells, they start to age, causing the body to age.
- High amount of telomerase is found in sperm and egg cells and stem cells. The length of telomeres is not reduced after the replication of DNA in such cells; therefore, they do not show signs of aging.
- Telomerase is also found in cancer cells in large quantities. Because of this, such cells do not age or die and replicate in large numbers, causing the spread of cancer. Potentially, turning off telomerase activity in cancer cells would cause them to shrink until they reached their critical length and died. This would prevent the spread of cancer.
Use of Telomeres
Telomeres and telomerase are unarguably linked to cancer and aging. A proper understanding of the activity of telomeres and telomerase could help retard aging, check the growth and spread of cancer, and also treat several conditions, including diabetes.
The length of the Telomeres can be tested in blood. It analyses the length of the telomeres in several white blood cells and calculate an average determining if the length of your telomere is below or above average for people of the same chronological age as you are.
Improving Telomere Health
Consulting a medical practitioner like Dr. Adonis, who practices functional medicine, will enable you to understand your telomere health better. Doctors usually run simple blood tests to determine the average length of telomeres and offer a comparison of your telomere health with others of the same age. This is a good predictor of how healthy your telomeres are, and how they will influence the process of aging in your body.
While telomere health is something that can prove hard to control, some dietary and lifestyle modifications can be made to improve telomere health. Here are some tips Dr. A recommends to improve telomere health and, thereby, your longevity:
Watch Your Weight
Studies have shown a strong correlation between the shortening of telomeres and obesity. This can account for a loss of up to 8 years of your life. Increased weight can also lead to oxidative stress in the body, which can further damage your telomeres. Eat healthy food, and look for a special diet drawn up by your doctor if you have the tendency of obesity in your family.
Exercise not only helps regulate body weight but also reduces oxidative stress. Research indicates that the telomere health of physically active individuals in their 50s is as good as that of individuals at least two decades younger than they are.
Beat the Stress
While there is no scientific study or research that has been conclusive in telling us how stress affects telomere length, it is clear that stress plays a role in increasing oxidative stress and, therefore, causing rapid aging. Techniques like counseling and meditation can prove extremely helpful for those dealing with high levels of stress.
Choosing a proper diet high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory substances, and foods for cellular health can prove extremely beneficial. Antioxidant foods include foods rich in vitamin C like kale and colored peppers, polyphenols like clove and chocolate, and anthocyanins found in berries. Cellular health and vitality can be maintained through the consumption of fruit, grains, dairy, and lean meats. Avoiding processed foods rich in salt and sugar can also maintain cellular health. Eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables can also enable the body to build anti-inflammatory properties.
Supplement Your Intake
Some supplements such as vitamins C and D and herbs such as Astragalus membranaceus can help promote the natural antioxidant properties in the body and strengthen its anti-aging mechanism. It is essential to consult your doctor to understand the supplements your body requires, the necessary quantity, and the best manner in which they can be administered.