“Telomere length appears to be a weak predictor of when we actually die, but a more reliable predictor of when we get diseases,”

Out With Ageing!

Have you ever envied a friend or colleague who always looks young beyond their years?

Posted: 1 March 17

Some people just seem to naturally exude youthful good health, keeping wrinkles and grey hair at bay longer than the rest of us. Costhetics has written about the ways diet, exercise, and even sleep can affect your skin and your health. Recently, however, we’ve been reading about another piece in the ageing puzzle.

In this article, we take a close-up look at telomeres. You’ll discover the connection between premature ageing and immortality, and what you can do to protect your telomeres from the inside. Hang on to your hats. This will blow your mind!

See Into the Future with Telomeres

Let’s start with basics: what is a telomere? Scientifically speaking, a telomere is a repeating DNA sequence at the end of your body’s chromosomes. Their sole purpose in life is to protect DNA from damage. Un-scientifically speaking, they’re your body’s defence squad. Today, scientists are using telomeres to predict the future. A shortened telomere can serve as a crystal ball, signalling a wide range of ageing diseases, including:

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer (some types)
  • Dementia

People’s whose telomeres suggest early onset of certain diseases can take steps to prevent and/or treat their problems, including ageing skin.

With Telomeres, Size Counts

When telomeres divide, they may go from a health preserving “long” to an unhealthy “short.” When telomeres become too short, a cell loses its ability to divide and replenish tissue. This can lead to cell death.

Your cells may die, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to prepare your funeral pyre. “Telomere length appears to be a weak predictor of when we actually die, but a more reliable predictor of when we get diseases, so, how long we stay healthy—our health-span (not life span),” Dr Elissa Apel, co-author of The Telomere Effect, told Goop.com.

Thriller: The Organism That Wouldn’t Die

The scientific concept of “biological immortality” describes a state in which a cell’s death march towards the inability to divide due to DNA damage and/or shortened telomeres is halted. It is even hypothesised that the body’s normal somatic cells are immortal.

Thirty years ago, Apel’s co-author, Liz Blackburn, did pioneering research on telomere length in single-cell organisms. What she learned was ground breaking. “When telomerase (a protein enzyme that elongates) was high, the organism became immortalised, and lived on and on. When telomerase was blocked, the telomeres shortened, and the organism died,” she told Goop.

4 Tips for Maintaining Tip-Top Telomeres

At Costhetics, we believe you’re only as old as you feel. Maybe we should amend that to “You’re only as old as your telomeres are short.” To help you maintain the long telomeres of good health, we suggest these lifestyle changes:

  1. Reduce your stress – Chronic stress contributes to ageing by shortening telomeres. Fight back with yoga, deep breathing, meditation, and other stress-busters.
  1. Exercise regularly – A recent study found people who engage in some type of exercise are 3% less likely to have super short telomeres than a person who doesn’t exercise at all.
  1. Put some colour on your plate – Antioxidant-rich foods like colourful blueberries and red peppers protect telomeres from oxidative damage.
  1. Take your one-a-day – One study found that women who supplement their diet with a multivitamin had telomeres that were up to 5% longer than non-vitamin users.

No one has yet reached immortality thanks to telomeres, but who knows what the future holds?!