Are you ready to have your socks knocked off?
That’s what happened at a Costhetics brainstorming session when we learned a Danish study found looking old for your age is associated with increased mortality. Conversely, looking young for your age may indicate you’ve got a lot of good years left. In a study of twins, the twin whose appearance was classified “older” died sooner than their siblings in subsequent years.
We wish we could report aesthetic procedures that rejuvenate the face and body were part of the picture, but they’re not. It’s primarily genetics that influence how we weather the passing of the years. Looking older or younger as you age is a hereditary trait likely to run in families. If your mum or dad looked 50 at 30, the same may happen to you. It’s all about telomeres…
…and we’ve got some tips for keeping yours healthy.
Length Really Matters…in Telomeres
Telomeres are not on most people’s radar as yet because they are a recent medical discovery and still being studied. What we do know is telomeres are protective structures at the end of each strand of your DNA. Think of them as aglets, the small plastic or metal sheaths found on shoelaces. Like aglets, telomeres keep DNA strands from being frayed and non-functional. Unfortunately, they grow shorter with age and ultimately die. This is not good.
In the book The Telomere Effect, scientist Elizabeth Blackburn documents “how the process of telomere shortening can stop our cells replicating so that they age and die, and how we can slow down or even reverse that process,” reports HCF, Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund. Telomere degradation can lead to:
- Accelerated ageing
- Memory loss
- Premature skin ageing
Give Your Telomeres a Little TLC
Medical research into telomeres is ongoing. News of particular interest can be found in the article Scientists Find Way to Increase Length of Human Telomeres. “We have found a way to lengthen human telomeres by as much as 1,000 nucleotides, turning back the internal clock in these cells by the equivalent of many years of human life,” says study co-author Helen Blau. It’s hoped that lengthening telomeres will be useful in treating a wide range of diseases and chronic conditions, as well as aesthetic concerns such as skin beauty.
While scientists are doing their work, Costhetics urges you to join the fight to keep telomeres long and strong:
- Get a Move On – In 2011, researchers compared the DNA of endurance athletes with that of a non-exercising control group. The athlete’s telomeres were about 11% longer…equating to an estimated 16 years of biological longevity.
- Tune Up Your Nutrition – Eating foods rich in folate (avocados) and B12 (seafood) supports optimal DNA replication and telomere health.
- Turn Down Your Stress – Chronic stress has the ability to damage telomeres. Stress-reducing activities such as yoga and meditation can help.
The lifestyle changes you make today can dramatically impact your telomeres and, in turn, the number of years you’ll remain active and disease-free. Costhetics wants a long healthy life for you (not to mention ourselves) so we leave you with our new Mr. Spock-inspired motto, “May your telomeres live long and prosper.”