What are telomeres?
Like plastic aglets on the end of a shoelace, telomeres are tiny caps found on the end of DNA to protect if from damage during cell division and replication. Telomeres function to protect the ends of chromosomes from sticking to each other. They also protect genetic information during cell division because a short piece of each chromosome is lost every time DNA is replicated. Cells use a special enzyme called telomerase to keep dividing, which lengthens their telomeres.
Why do cells have telomeres?
Cells have them to prevent the loss of genes as chromosome ends wear down, the tips of eukaryotic chromosomes have specialized DNA “caps” called telomeres. Telomeres need to be protected from a cell’s DNA repair systems because they have single-stranded overhangs, which “look like” damaged DNA.
Dating the cells age is interesting business because sometimes it’s chronological age and biological age simply do not match. A cell could be young, in terms of the length of its existence, however, function slowly or inconsistently; as if it were elderly.
As we age our cells age and telomeres fray and shorten. All of this can be sped up through smoking, obesity, diabetes, insomnia, and other lifestyle choices. Studies have shown that exercise may slow the breakdown of telomeres. Data was gathered by researchers from people ranging from 20 – 84, and then categorized into 4 groups, based on how they responded to 4 questions pertaining to exercise. Telomere length in the participants white blood cells was collected through blood tests.
The questions that were asked were related to how much time during the last month they engaged in weight training and moderate exercises; like walking, more vigorous like running, or have walked or ridden a bike to school or work. If the response was a yes, then, he or she earned a point for each one, for a maximum of 4 points. Those tallies were then compared to each person’s telomere length and found there were direct associations. The risks of having short telomeres declined a great deal, for every point gained from any type of exercise!
If someone exercised more, that risk declined. People between the ages of 40 and 65 had shown the strongest telomeres when associated with exercise. This suggests that middle age may be one of the most important times to begin, or continue, an exercise program if you want to keep telomeres from shrinking and acting old.
What types of foods are related to longer telomeres?
Eat plenty of organic produce, try to include at various times: citrus, berries, apples, plums, carrots, green leafy vegetables and tomatoes. There are also antioxidants in beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green tea.
How you can lengthen and protect your telomeres?
- Get active
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Load up on healthy fats and veggies
Ultimately the best piece of advice to keep your telomeres happy and healthy is to get up, get out and do some physical activity to keep your cells young and functioning at an optimal level. Want more great tips on health and fitness, follow us on social media @VYKONSUPPS.