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Telomeres and Their Role in the Aging Process

Posted by February 3rd, 2014 in Wellness

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The search for the proverbial Fountain of Youth is endless, and Americans spend millions of dollars every year on products to try to slow down or even stop the aging process. But scientists have discovered that the secret to staying young may already exist in our chromosomes. Telomeres, which are the ‘caps’ on the ends of the arms of chromosomes, prevent the chromosomes from losing base pair DNA sequences at their ends. Scientists now believe that lifestyle changes may lengthen telomeres, resulting in a decrease in the signs of aging.
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What are Telomeres?
To put it simply, telomeres work like the caps on shoelaces, preventing chromosomes from getting damaged. Just as without the cap a shoelace will become frayed and fall apart, so too without telomeres chromosomes will shed DNA sequences. The protection of chromosomes is vital because they tell each cell what to do; if they are destroyed or compromised, cells will die because they will be unable to divide.
Telomerase is the enzyme that controls the telomeres, and it is a vital key to keeping cells young and healthy. This enzyme elongates cells by adding DNA sequences to the ends. Because it is so rarely used in the somatic (body) cells, they age, which in turn causes the body to age.
Scientists have uncovered the fact that if they can activate telomerase in body cells, then the cells may continue to divide. When the cells can grow and divide, the aging process slows. This presents the idea that the body’s cells could potentially live forever, giving endless possibilities for prolonging life.
Supporting Your Telomeres
Researchers have found that habits that are bad for the body result in the shortening of telomeres. For example, lack of exercise, smoking, and stress are believed to cause shortening. Once the telomeres are damaged, the chances of ending up with health problems and chronic diseases like cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease increase.
In 2009, several scientists from the University of California won a Nobel Prize for their findings about telomeres and their effect on the length of an individual’s life. Doctors at the University of California set up a study with older men. The subjects were divided into two groups, with one group adopting a healthy diet, working out, and reducing stress by meditating or doing yoga, while the second group made no significant changes to their lifestyle. After five years, the results showed that the men in the first group showed a 10 percent increase in the length of their telomeres. The ones in the second group, who did not make lifestyle changes, had a 3 percent decrease in the length of their telomeres. The basic conclusion was that people with longer telomeres had them because they lived healthy and balanced lives.
Testing Telomere Length
Before working to elongate telomeres, it is a good idea to first find out the length of your telomeres to develop a baseline. Rejuvé offers a telomere test through Life Length, which uses simple blood and tissue samples to determine the length of telomeres. No special preparation is required for the test, and the results can be expected in four to six weeks. It is recommended that anyone who is interested in health and longevity be tested. Repeat testing can be done in 6 months to assess whether lifestyle changes, hormone balancing, and nutritional supplements have helped.
The Future of Anti-Aging Medicine
We are still just beginning to unlock the power of telomeres. It is always important to achieve healthy telomeres through a healthy lifestyle. Dean Ornish, MD, one of the authors of the telomeres study at the University of California, suggests that people eat a diet with plenty of plant-based protein, fruits, and vegetables. Exercising moderately at least six days a week is also a must. Managing stress with yoga or meditation, and having adequate social and family support are also vital to having strong, healthy telomeres.
In addition to keeping up a healthy lifestyle, there are 2 nutraceuticals — TA-65 and Product B — that have been shown to increase telomere length. TA-65 was the first product increasing telomerase activity to come on the market. Originally discovered and patented by a California biotech company called Geron, the active ingredient in TA-65 comes from a purified active ingredient found in the astralagus plant. Product B contains a full spectrum of natural bioactive antioxidants to help protect against harmful free radicals that can accelerate aging and contribute to poor health. Product B contains a revolutionary blend of complex botanicals and minerals uniquely designed to protect your telomeres and stimulate more efficient antioxidant enzyme-defense systems.
One on side, some critics of the study have cautioned that using products to help increase telomeres might actually cause harm, allowing bad cells like cancer or tumor cells to multiply faster. But the research is ongoing, and many believe unlocking the secrets of telomeres and telomerase may eventually lead to longer lifespans and breakthroughs in cures of major diseases like cancer and heart disease.

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