THIS IS THE THIRD AND FINAL PART of a three-part series on understanding the role of telomeres in aging and the scientific ways to boost and lengthen them.
You won’t get part 3 if you haven’t read Parts 1 & 2 yet. So please come back after reading, Part 1- “Secrets of Aging: Meet your Telomeres and Understand its Role.” And Part II- “Secret of Immortality: How to lengthen Telomeres and Live Long.”
Several scientific studies have shown that shorter telomeres are associated with a number of chronic diseases: Cardiovascular, diabetes, dementia, arthritis, liver cirrhosis, and more.
Telomere shortening is observed in other health disorders and addictions, namely: smoking, obesity, alcoholism, drugs, pollution, and inflammation, among others.
If you lead an unhealthy lifestyle, have a terrible diet, and smoke, drink you’re definitely shortening your life, and shortening your telomeres.
In Part II I offered two powerful ways to arrest the shortening of telomere.
Let’s dive into some more research-backed and science-baked strategies to keep telomeres longer and healthier.
Are you ready? Let’s begin!
Stress management: Impact of Stress Hormone on Telomere.
In a 2016 study from a highly respected NIH database, 411 healthy men and women aged 54 to 76 years were exposed to stressors. Out of these 411 participants 156 participants, were exposed to some challenging behavioral tasks and mental stress testing exposing them to the stress hormone cortisol and 255 were non-responders. Telomere length was measured at the start and 3 years later.
The conclusion was that those with higher levels of cortisol- the stress hormone had shorter telomeres and fast telomere attrition rates than the non-responders.
When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that can cause oxidative and inflammatory stress. This could result in more DNA damage and telomere shortening.
Regardless of whether stress reduces telomere length or not, we all know the ill effects of stress on both physiological and psychological health. Still not convinced, just google the dark effects of stress.
Diet Management-Effects of Diet on Telomere Length.
In a 2018 study from the database of highly respected NIH, a study involving more than 5500 adults was conducted to look for any relation between fiber intake and telomere length. Fiber consumption was measured using a 24hour recall and telomere length was measured using the qPCR method.
The conclusion was that people who had more fiber consumption had longer telomeres than those who didn’t. A staggering difference of 5 to 6 years in cell aging was found between the two groups. This could be due to the known ability of fiber to control blood glucose levels. And since higher blood glucose levels are associated with inflammation and oxidative stress, both of whom may cause telomere shortening. Try adding fiber-rich foods to your diet.
In a meta-analysis of over 20 studies in 2019, the verdict seems unanimous: the Mediterranean diet or a plant-rich diet was considered one of the healthiest diets in the world. It was observed that adherence to the Mediterranean diet has been linked to longer telomeres and thus leads to low morbidity and greater longevity.
The researchers also found that a diet high in carotenoids, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and C is associated with longer telomeres and less risk of developing breast cancer.
Fitness management: Effects of Different Exercise Forms on Telomere Length.
In another study led by Dean Ornish of the preventive Medicine Research Institute, California, they enrolled 10 men in their 60s to a healthy lifestyle regime. The participants were asked to follow a strict discipline of lifestyle change: to eat a meat-free diet, do yoga and meditation for an hour, exercise for 30 minutes a day, and attend group therapy sessions each week.
The same procedure was followed as in other studies. Blood was drawn from the participants at the beginning and then at the end of the study. They observed that after almost five years the telomeres were on average 10 percent longer than at the start of the study. But, 25 men who kept their normal lifestyles saw their telomeres shrink by 3 percent over the same period. They also found that the more disciplined the 10 men were, the longer their telomeres became. Well, you would argue that this was a small study and included only men. Here comes another study with women.
In another study, twenty obese women in the age group of 20-40 years were subjected to combined training of strength and aerobic exercises to study the impact of physical activity on telomere length in obese women. Each exercise session lasted 55 minutes, three times a week for eight weeks.
Conclusion: the exercise regimen led to a lengthening of the telomeres in obese women. Another interesting observation was that greater waist circumference may lead to shortening of the telomere.
Effect of Various Health Training on Telomere Length.
In another landmark study published in the 2018 November issue of European Heart Journal, researchers from Germany led by Professor Ulrich Laufs of Leipzig University looked at the effects of 3 types of training routines: endurance training, resistance training, and high-intensity interval training on the aging of cells.
For the research 266 young, healthy but inactive participants were put on six months of endurance training (continuous running), high-intensity training, and resistance training involving strength training with weights.
The participants were randomly selected to any of the three forms of training. They underwent three 45-minutes sessions per week and only 124 completed the study. Blood was drawn from the volunteers to study telomere length and telomerase activity in their white blood cells, at the start of the study and after the end of the training six months later.
Prof Laufs said: “Our main finding is that, compared to the start of the study and the control group, in volunteers who did endurance and high-intensity training, telomerase activity and telomere length increased, which are both important for cellular aging, regenerative capacity and thus, healthy aging. Interestingly, resistance training did not exert these effects.”
Telomerase activity increase 2-3 times and telomere length also increased significantly in both the endurance and high-intensity training groups.
A possible explanation behind the results is the impact of this training on the levels of nitric oxide in the blood. Also observed was the fact that telomerase leads to higher nitric oxide levels and decreased inflammatory and oxidative stress which reduces cell death and damage to cells.
We have all known this for long, but this is one of the first controlled studies of the effects of a different form of exercise on cellular aging. So, all endurance exercise like running, yoga, aerobics, swimming, cycling, and more will help you delay aging and age gracefully. So, what are you waiting for! Layout your exercise mat or put on your running shoes.
Despite so much research, the debate on aging is still in its infancy. There is still much research to be done, all the above studies show that though telomeres may not be the ultimate indicator of mortality, they are definitely an extremely important variable.
I am quite sure that this three-part series on telomeres would persuade you to view aging from a different perspective and this understanding will help you to age gracefully and in style.
I am eager to know your opinion on the entire series on aging and the role of the telomere. Please comment below!
Bye-Bye Aging and Happy Telomere!