“Telomeres” are the ends of your chromosomes and act as a protective cap. They are a critical part of the aging process. As you age and your cells continue to divide, telomeres shorten with each cell division. This leads to cell senescence and dysfunction. There are lifestyle factors which cause telomeres to shorten faster, including chronic stress, poor nutrition, and a lack of exercise.
Shorter telomeres, cell dysfunction, and cell senescence manifest as aging, and increase the risk of age-related diseases like diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative issues (Alzheimer’s, neuropathy), and cardiovascular issues (heart attacks, arrythmias, and blood pressure).
We measure telomeres as a bio-marker to aging and health. At Biohackr Health, we send your blood out to determine your telomere score. This is calculated by looking at your average telomere length in whole blood cells compared to other patients in your same age range, which gives you a percentile score. Diagnostic testing for telomeres can be done individually or as part of our Benchmark Program.
What can you do to lengthen telomeres?
We will be blogging more in-depth about this, but a few key takehome points:
- Focus on a plant-rich diet (e.g. the Mediterranean diet). A diet rich in carotenoids (leafy green and red orange-colored fruits and vegetables) was significantly associated with longer telomeres.
- Protect telomeres by being ACTIVE. This helps decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Take folate (Not folic acid, as folate bio-availability in the body is higher). Folate is an essential B-vitamin found in food. Too much is not a good thing.
- Vitamin D. Is there anything thing vitamin cannot do? Higher Vitamin D levels are associated with longer telomeres. (Again, too much is not a good thing.)
- Lower stress. This is well-known, but chronic levels of stress drive up cortisol, which increases oxidative stress and telomere shortening.
Telomerase is an enzyme that helps maintain telomere length. There are studies being done to show how to increase it as well (and help slow or reverse telomere shortening).
More to come. This is the essence of biohacking.