Written by Stephani Fenk, CNPYou may have heard about research on the role of telomeres and their ability to slow down the aging process. Could it be true? These small caps on the end of our DNA are the secret to longevity? Today, I’m here to wade through the science on telomeres and give you some practical advice.Telomeres are found on the end of chromosomes, which are located in each of our cells and hold our DNA. To give you a visual of what they look like, you can think of the plastic ends on shoelaces. The caps act as protection so the ends of our individual chromosomes don’t fuse together and corrupt the DNA of the cell it belongs to. Without them, fusing of the chromosomes could potentially lead to cancer or cell death. As a part of our regular bodily processes, our cells continue to divide and replicate. Research has shown that as a cell divides the telomeres start to get shorter and shorter every time until they are gone. As a result, DNA can no longer be copied, the cell ages and can no longer replicate. Both older individuals and those that have disease have shorter telomeres.You can probably guess that the researchers’ next move was to determine how to extend the life of telomeres. If they found a way for the telomeres to stick around, the cell would never die. What they discovered was that our telomeres may not be the secret to longevity. It seems they are act as more of a clear biomarker for aging, similar to gray hair. However, there has been exciting links to the role of telomerase, an enzyme involved in production of telomeres, in detecting cancerous tumor growth.So, telomeres aren’t the key to staying young forever (sigh). To slow down the aging process, we’ll have to look at its other contributors. While there is no magical solution, research has clearly determined that the main causes of aging include oxidative stress and chronic inflammation in the body. So, how can you play a part in reducing aging? How do you reduce oxidative stress and limit inflammatory processes to be activated? For these, I can give you some concrete, practical tips:
Foods high in antioxidants help fight free radicals, which are the key contributor to oxidative stress. Free radicals lead to inflammation if not neutralized by antioxidants. Reach for foods with bright colours, like berries and sweet potatoes, as they contain higher antioxidant content.
High fiber foods/ Prebiotic Foods
Foods high in fiber are a delicious meal for the microbes found in your gut. Those microbes are important regulators of the proper functioning of your immune system. Proper immune function means less activation of inflammatory cytokines in the body. Foods like, nuts, seeds and vegetables, are prebiotic foods that feed these important bacteria, so make sure to include them in your daily diet.
Curcumin is found in the vibrant orange turmeric root. Curcumin is actually slightly toxic to us. As a result, when ingested it turns on anti-inflammatory genes and inhibits pro-inflammatory ones! Cook with turmeric by making a nice curry dish or juice it and shoot it back to reap its anti-inflammatory benefits. Stephani Fenk is a Holistic Nutritionist at Village Juicery, who is enthusiastically committed to making people feel good about their bodies and nutritional choices. When working in health care as an occupational therapist, she became more aware of the lack of prevention and over reliance on prescription medications. This is why she decided to pursue her passion of holistic health. Stephani’s goal as a nutritional practitioner is to inspire females to feel good about their bodies and make the most impact in treating clients with female health issues. Learn more about Stephani at stephanifenk.com.