This Isn’t Snake Oil

December 5, 2012

By David Blyweiss, M.D.

In This Issue:

  • An exciting breakthrough in anti-aging
  • The ticking time bomb in your DNA
  • 5 tips to turn back the hands of time

This Isn’t Snake Oil

These days there’s a lot of hype over anti-aging solutions. Some of them have solid scientific evidence behind them. Others are just another name for “snake oil” and do nothing to extend your life.

But what if there really was an oil that could hold back the hands of time on your aging clock? Well, groundbreaking research now reveals this might actually be true.

Except it isn’t snake oil…

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A new study out of Ohio State University suggests fish oil may slow down a critical biological process that dramatically affects the way your body ages.

It turns out the powerful omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – play a significant role when it comes to the length of your telomeres.

Telomeres are a hot topic in the scientific community and a very exciting breakthrough in the world of anti-aging. They are strands of DNA found at the ends of your chromosomes. These stretches of DNA make it possible for your cells to divide and replicate. They also preserve your genetic code.

Today, many scientists believe telomeres hold the key to warding off age-related disease and slowing down the aging process.

Telomeres are often thought of as “genetic clocks.” They’re sort of like an aging clock in your DNA. You’ll understand why after I tell you how they work…

In a nutshell, your cells divide as you age… and each time your cells divide, your telomeres become shorter. That’s where the real problem arises. Because when your telomeres become too short, your cells can’t divide anymore. They just die. Ultimately, the more quickly your telomeres shorten, the faster you age.

I tend to think of telomeres as a fuse at the end of a bomb. They get “lit” at birth and slowly “burn down” as you age. So you can understand why my goal is to keep your telomeres longer for as long as possible. I want to keep that fuse burning bright as long as I can!

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Shortened telomeres open you up to an increased risk of many health issues; including heart disease, cancer, dementia and chronic inflammation. They are also linked to a reduced lifespan. Longer telomeres, on the other hand, are associated with robust health and a longer lifetime.

That’s why I’m so excited about the Ohio State University study I mentioned earlier. It reveals groundbreaking evidence on how you can extend the length of your telomeres.

When researchers gave 100 overweight middle-aged and older adults a cold water fish oil supplement, it not only slowed down telomere shortening but, on average, lengthened them. And all it took was four months.

But that’s not all that happened.

Those given the omega-3 fish oil had a 15 percent reduction in oxidative stress compared to the placebo. It also lowered a biological marker of inflammation by 10 to 12 percent. (Those who didn’t get the fish oil had a 36 percent increase in this same inflammation marker.)

When the researchers dug a little deeper, they discovered the secret of how it works. It turns out the ratio of the participant’s omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was clearly associated with lengthened telomeres.

In other words, getting more omega-3 oils in the diet changes the body’s balance of fatty acids in a way that promotes telomere lengthening.

This is a very important finding. You see, most of us don’t get nearly enough omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. And we get far too many omega-6 fatty acids. These two forms of fatty acids fight against each other for space in your body. So when you eat too many omega-6’s it displaces the healthy omega-3 fats.

Omega-6 oils account for the majority of polyunsaturated fatty acids in our food supply. They’re found in vegetable oils, salad dressings, fried foods, margarines and many other foods. So we tend to really load up on them without even knowing it.

Worse, packaged foods that may have once been high in omega-3 fats are stripped of them in the manufacturing process. This extends the shelf-life of the products. So it’s a big win for the manufacturer, but a bigger loss for you.

Given our diets, it probably won’t surprise you to learn some analysts say the average American has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 20:1. Your ideal ratio should be around 3:1 or 4:1.

When your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio gets thrown out of whack it can cause all kinds of problems. It puts you at increased risk of many health issues – from heart disease and cancer to arthritis and osteoporosis. But put that balance back in order and these health risks shrink considerably.

So you can see the enormous advantage of getting plenty of fish oil in your diet. It not only balances out your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. It also helps lengthen your telomeres. And there’s absolutely no doubt these are two key factors in preventing many of today’s age-related health disorders.

In addition to adding a fish oil supplement to your diet, there are several other things you can do to get your ratio back in balance. And it’s not hard to do…

Just a few minor changes can set you on the path to longer telomeres, better health and an extended life.

If you’re eager to begin taking advantage of the benefits of balancing out your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, check out these tips to help get you started…

  1. Watch out for vegetable oils. Most vegetable oils are full of omega-6 fatty acids. Some of the worst include corn oil, safflower oil, and sesame oil. The best choices when it comes to vegetable oils are flaxseed oil, olive oil and canola oil. Avoid the others.
  2. Take a tip from the Mediterranean. When it comes to eating, the Mediterranean’s have the right idea. Their diet emphasizes foods that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in omega-6’s. You can find out more about my Modified Mediterranean diet here.
  3. Cut back on processed foods. Foods like cookies, breads, cakes, chips, crackers and pastries are loaded with omega-6 oils as well as trans fats and gluten. In fact, you’ll find omega 6’s in almost all snack foods. There is very little, if any, nutritional value in processed foods. And they play havoc on your blood sugar and weight. So there are multiple reasons to stay away from these foods.
  4. Buy grass-fed meats. Most of today’s commercial livestock is grain-fed, which means you’re getting more and more omega-6 fatty acids (a lot from corn fed cattle) from the meat you’re eating. Meat from grass-fed livestock has a more favorable omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio than grain-fed animals.
  5. Make sure you’re getting the right fish oil. Look for a supplement made from cold-water fish that contains at least 360 mg. of DHA and 540 mg. of EPA.

Remember. Your telomeres are like a fuse. They get shorter and shorter as you age. But you can lengthen your telomeres – and avoid many of today’s most devastating health issues – just by correcting your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

As my daughter would say… “It’s a no-brainer.”


  1. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Epel ES, Belury MA, Andridge R, Lin J, Glaser R, Malarkey WB, Hwang BS, Blackburn E.Omega-3 fatty acids, oxidative stress, and leukocyte telomere length: A randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2012 Sep 23. pii: S0889-1591(12)00431-X. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2012.09.004. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Omega-3 Supplements May Slow A Biological Effect of Aging. Ohio State University News Release. Oct 1, 2012

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