By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
March 14, 2014
- Why do centenarians live so long?
- 3 anti-aging secrets that may add years to your life
- The “gold standard” for keeping your blood vessels younger and healthier
When researchers ask people in their 100s why they think they’ve lived so long, certain answers come up over and over again. Some that pop up with regularity include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and living a stress-free life.
Now, you might not find this very surprising. However, I find it extremely interesting.
Because all of these behaviors have shown to activate telomerase expression and extend telomere length.
If you missed Monday’s issue, I explained how telomeres act as your genetic clock. I tend to think of them as a fuse at the end of a stick of dynamite. They get “lit” at birth and slowly “burn down” as you age. The shorter they become, the older and sicker you become.
So, the idea is to keep your telomeres as long as you can and keep that fuse burning brightly, well into old age.
How can you do that?
One thing we’ve learned over the years is that the way you live can have a big impact on the aging process. The way you react to stress, the foods you eat and the amount of exercise you get all have an effect on telomerase expression and the length of your telomeres.
This is why I imagine centenarians who practice healthy habits in these areas are able to live such long and healthy lives.
And, it turns out, if you do the same, you can extend the length of your telomeres by about 10% within the next five years. (Keep it up your entire life, and who knows how many years you can gain!)
Adopt a Mediterranean-style diet. A low-fat diet filled with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is key to maintaining longer telomeres. This makes eating a Mediterranean-style diet a perfect way to help ward off the aging process.
Cook or marinate your veggies with olive oil and add nuts and seeds for added flavor. For your protein, choose mostly fish. It’s okay to have a little meat, too, but how it’s raised matters. Organic, grass-fed, and wild-caught are the all-important phrases to look for on labels.
Note: Watch out for refined and processed foods like pastas, breads, sweeteners and processed meats. These should not be a part of your Mediterranean-style cuisine.
Gently move your body. Our bodies were designed for movement. Yet, most of us spend hours each day sitting in front of computer screens, in our cars or watching TV. Moderate exercise, such as walking or riding a bike 30 minutes each day with a few bursts of intensity, will do your telomeres a world or good.
Just make sure to stay on a regular daily schedule to get the most benefit. People who get the most exercise have telomeres that appear about nine years younger than those who do the least.
Address your stress. Chronic stress is a significant factor when it comes to telomerase activity and shorter telomere length. In fact, high levels of stress could age your telomeres by 10 extra years.
The best antidote for stress is to pick a daily practice you’ll enjoy, such as yoga, prayer, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing or any other relaxation technique that appeals to you. It’s also important to make time for yourself. Have a massage, take a bubble bath, read a good book, or just sit back and listen to your favorite music.
I also have one more tip. And it’s a real humdinger when it comes to telomerase activity…
Awhile back we learned that a substance in our own bodies can help increase telomerase expression. At the same time, it protects the telomeres in the cells that line the interior surface of your blood vessels (the endothelium) from becoming shorter.
This is huge! Poor arterial health compromises blood flow. And it’s linked to all sorts of health risks… inflammation, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, stroke and dementia. So, every single thing you can do to protect your blood vessels will also protect your health and help you live longer.
The compound I’m talking about is called nitric oxide (NO.) When we are young, our bodies produce plenty of it. But as we age, our supplies of NO dwindle.
That slows down telomerase activity. The telomeres in the endothelium of your blood vessels shorten, and arterial health begins to deteriorate. Circulation becomes compromised, and then you’re just a step away from a stroke or heart attack.
Well… just say NO to that!
There are completely natural ways to boost NO production and protect the telomeres in the lining of your blood vessels. And here’s the “gold standard” when it comes to getting all of the nitric oxide your body needs…
You may have heard supplementing with L-arginine is the best way to restore NO levels in your body. And it’s true. Your body absolutely must have arginine to make NO.
So, you can imagine how excited I am to discover another supplement, called L-citrulline, that actually increases your natural levels of arginine better than supplementing with arginine itself!
That means even greater NO production for you… greater telomerase activity… and longer telomeres in your endothelial cells.
I suggest starting with 1,500 mg. daily. Plenty of research shows it’s a safe and effective way to improve nitric oxide levels.
There’s absolutely no reason not to get started immediately to keep your blood vessels younger and healthier as you age.
Dean Ornish, M.D. et al. “Effect of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity and telomere length in men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer: 5-year follow-up of a descriptive pilot study.” The Lancet Oncology, Early Online Publication, 17 September 2013.
Cherkas LF, et al. “The association between physical activity in leisure time and leukocyte telomere length.” Arch Intern Med. 2008 Jan 28;168(2):154-8.
Epel ES, Blackburn EH, et al. “Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 7;101(49):17312-5.
Vasa M, et. al. “Nitric Oxide Activates Telomerase and Delays Endothelial Cell Senescense.” Circulation Research. 2000; 540-542.
Schwedhelm E, et al. “Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of oral L-citrulline and L-arginine: impact on nitric oxide metabolism.” Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Jan;65(1):51-9. Epub 2007 Jul 27