Have you heard of telomeres? Looks like they hold the key to living a long, healthy life. Learn the secret to a long, healthy life — Greek style!
Telomeres and longevity
You’ve probably never, ever heard of telomeres. And how in the world can it help you live a long time? It’s time to reveal this secret. This little known concept holds the key. And of course, there is a Greek connection. Read on to find out!
What are telomeres?
The name telomeres, itself, is derived from the Greek nouns telos (τέλος) “end” and merοs (μέρος, root: μερ-) “part”. They’re repeating, non-coding DNA, that are located in our body, at the end of our chromosomes. They’re often compared to shoelace caps and their main role is to prevent the genetic material located within our chromosomes from spilling out, much in the same ways shoelace caps prevent shoelaces from fraying.
Have you heard of cell replication?
In order for us to heal and/or remain healthy, our cells must continuously produce new cells to replace old worn out cells. This is cell replication. Telomeres allow our cells to divide without damaging or scrambling the cells’ genetic information.
As a person ages (and cells continue to divide), telomeres eventually shorten. Ultimately, tired cells are still alive but STOP dividing and the telomeres located at the end of the chromosomes are critically short. This stage is called senescence, a term often compared to “senile.” While there are other factors involved, this is thought by many, to be the primary reason that our cells and humans, grow old; “Aged chromosomes with shorter telomeres may be associated with symptoms of aging such as wrinkled skin and immune system decline”. (For more information on telomeres and how they work click here).
There’s good news: our DNA doesn’t have to go “senile”.
While there is an individual genetic predisposition for inherent telomere length, current research has found that we can actually influence how quickly our telomeres shorten over time and/or even regrow them again! How? Through lifestyle and diet, of course! The way we live can speed up the process of cellular aging or slow it down. A small population in the world, is doing just that.
Could this be the secret to longevity, or the elusive “fountain of youth”. Read on!
Greece and the Blue Zone
You’ve most likely heard of a small percentage of the Greek population that seems to defy the statistics of life expectancy and instead live well into their 100’s…not only happy but healthy as well. These Blue Zone inhabitants, have several characteristics in common and telomere length is one of them. Centenarians located in the Blue Zones have longer telomeres than the rest of the population.
Of course, many argue that lifestyle and environment are what allow these individuals to live such a long, happy, AND healthy life. But you don’t have to move to Ikaria get the benefits. We can actively change our OWN environment and lifestyle to ultimately form our own “blue zones” and lengthen our telomeres.
Want to know how?
Read Part 2 for tips to make changes in your own life.
Sources and Inspiration:
The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer, by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Elissa Epel.
Rethinking Depression, by Eric Maisel.
Struggling with making health-related changes in your own life? Contact Roula for a free initial consultation and start working toward those changes, today!