By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
November 20, 2020
Have you ever been on a cruise? What I wouldn’t give for a few days in the sun relaxing in a lounge chair… I love cruises.
In fact, I often give medical seminars to large groups of people while cruising the high seas. I suppose the attendees like to vacation and learn all at the same time. Honestly, it’s loads of fun.
I enjoy talking about the most important health topics that affect us all. One of the topics that comes up fairly often is how to prevent aging.
During these talks, I tell my audience about the tiny bits of DNA which make up the ends of our chromosomes. These strands of code are a lot like the little caps you’d find on the end of your shoe strings.
As you age, your chromosomes divide over and over again. With each division, these caps – called telomeres – get just a little bit shorter – until the cell eventually dies altogether.
As a result, your telomere lengths become the perfect way to predict how long you’ll live! Usually, when I tell folks about this, they have the same response…
“Oh wow. So, how can I make my telomeres longer?”
Great question! It’s definitely a topic that deserves our focus. Because, if you can make simple life changes that will prevent the shortening – or even cause lengthening – of your telomeres, you’ll literally extend your life.
Like a Canary in a Coalmine
As I mentioned, your telomeres will gradually shorten as you age. Each time your cells go through a division process called mitosis, the ends of your chromosomes lose a little bit of length.
In a lot of ways, your telomeres are like the proverbial “canary in a coalmine.” Telomere length helps us predict certain types of cancer and other immune and metabolic-related diseases.  In fact, telomere loss may contribute to defective immune responses in the elderly.
There are many reasons why someone might have shorter than normal telomeres. For instance, genetics, conditions you’re born with, stress on your body and your lifestyle all play a role.
Now, this is all good news.
Things like “stress and lifestyle” can be changed. So, it’s actually possible to slow down the shortening or even lengthen your telomeres.
Let me say that another way… you can make yourself live longer!
3 Ways to Live Longer
- Don’t let yourself become obese. If you want to preserve your telomeres, then make sure you’re not obese. You can actually lose years of your life simply by being overweight.
That’s because your excess fat contains inflammatory chemicals which cause oxidative stress on your body. Obesity is also a key predictor of type 2 diabetes – which is associated with shorter telomere length.
If we look outside our own country, many scientists consider there to be an “epidemic of obesity” in many Asian countries. People there are suffering more and more from conditions like dementia and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
In Japan, the rates of dementia have increased rapidly over the last two decades. The main culprit blamed for the change is the shift from a traditional Japanese diet to a Western diet filled with processed foods high in sugar and fat.
Along with this new obesity, people in many Asian countries are also facing other obesity-related diseases like hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
So, if you can keep your body at a healthy weight you are much more likely to enjoy better telomere lengths for longer. The two keys to avoiding obesity are listed below…
- Make daily movement. Honestly, I don’t even use the word “exercise” anymore. If you can just do some sort of movement each and every day, you’ll be doing your body (and your telomeres) a world of good.
Daily movement helps reduce oxidative stress on your body. In fact, it can actually make your body younger!
One Danish study found that physical activity can keep biological aging at bay. Older soccer players can be, in biological terms, 11 years younger than their actual age. So, a 65-year-old player in great shape had similar telomere lengths to someone in their early 50s!
It gets better. Players who were aged 65-80 showed longer telomere lengths across the board than other people in their age group who were lazier.
In general, higher levels of physical activity are related to longer telomere lengths in various populations. Athletes tend to have longer telomere lengths than non-athletes.
And guess what? This is especially true in older populations.
- Eat the right foods. Finally, you should be careful about what you eat. Focus on antioxidant rich foods – things that are colored red, blue and purple.
You know my favorite, right? Blueberries. I love them.
I also love dark chocolate. In fact, I have some Organic Fair Trade dark chocolate with raspberries waiting for me in my desk drawer. It’s going to be a delicious treat for after my lunch.
Eating these types of foods will ensure you get enough polyphenols and anthocyanins – both keys for a less stressed body and longer telomeres.
You can also try to follow the example of people over in India. Classically, this population has much lower levels of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease because of their anti-inflammatory diet.
Specifically, they eat plant-based diets with many curry dishes seasoned with turmeric. The compound in this spice – curcumin – has enormous benefits for your body and mind.
The next time you’re looking at a person who looks younger than their years, remember to think about your telomeres.
Are you making the three lifestyle changes I’ve outlined above? If so, you could be extending your lifespan by years.
As always, whatever it is that you can do as an improvement in diet or lifestyle will do until you find the way to do more.
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