That score is your telomere count. Although many of us eat and maintain a healthy life style to look and feel better, there is a superior reason. That is to be BETTER and live LONGER. One can be productive and happy as a centurion (living 100+ years). How does one know how long and well they will live? Now there is a laboratory study for it, called TELOMERE TESTING. Until recently, the test was prohibitively expensive, but now for less than $400, one can obtain their report card and intervene on life style to get a better and better score to either achieve their goal or come very close to it. The Telomere test is a simple fasting or non-fasting blood test that can be carried out in most doctor’s office. For more information contact their Client Services Department (800-227-5227) or go online to www.SpectraCell.com.
Telomeres are sections of DNA at the end of each chromosome whose primary function is to prevent chromosomal “fraying” when a cell replicates. As a cell ages, its telomeres become shorter. How much shorter is governed by genetic factors and environmental stressors. Eventually, the telomeres become too short to allow cell replication, the cell stops dividing and will ultimately die which is a normal biological process. The more of our cells die, the older and frailer we become until we ourselves die. If our reserve is depleted, we succumb to disease or just old age. The Telomere Test can determine the length of your telomeres in relation to the chronological age. The Telomere Score is calculated based on the telomere length on white blood cells (T-lymphocytes). This is the average compared to telomere length on lymphocytes from a sample of the American population of the same age. The higher the telomere score, the “younger” the cells and the longer and better that person will live. Yearly, the test can be repeated and one can work harder or do other interventions that will enhance their score and their life.
Although we cannot change our genes we now can modify their expression by Lifestyle. In a study published in Nature this January scientists found the body activates a gene (P 53) that under stress shuts down our cells' normal growth and division cycle by controlling the telomere length. Diet plays a large role in this process. Micronutrients have been shown to have epigenetic effects by methylation of our DNA. The best but the most difficult is becoming a CRONI, (Caloric Restriction Optimal Nutritional Intake) to the point of just sustenance, a step away from starvation with just nutrient dense foods. Far easier and almost as good is eating correctly for your Apo E type, going easy on meat, with eating whole nutrient dense foods, as raw as possible, consumption of Omega 3s, and staying away from grains and processed foods. According to a study in the January 20, 2010 issue of JAMA, increased telomere and survival rates occurred among individuals with high dietary intake of marine omega-3 fatty acids and established cardiovascular disease. In this 5-year study, the researchers found that individuals with the lowest DHA+EPA experienced the most rapid rate of telomere shortening, whereas those in the highest had the slowest rate of shortening. Levels of DHA+EPA were associated with less telomere shortening before and after sequential adjustment for established risk factors and potential confounders. For each 1-standard deviation increase in red cell Omega 3 levels was associated with a 32 percent reduction in the odds of telomere shortening! Although both EPA and DHA are healthy, it seems that DHA is better. So consuming Tuna or Calamari Oil, which has a 4 to 1 ratio of DHA to EPA, is superior than any of the marine oils. What we eat and supplement today becomes the biology of our future.
Minimizing emotional (psychological) and physiological (infections, trauma and surgery) stress will keep your telomeres longer and you healthier. Additionally, increasing antioxidants slows telomere shortening. Physical exercise with adequate antioxidants will also give longer telomeres. Common sense dictates that decreasing cardiovascular risk factors (Lipids, Homocysteine, Blood Pressure, Hs-C Reactive Protein, Glucose etc.) and correcting micronutrient deficencies such as Vitamins, Minerals, and Glutathione will preserve the telomere length. Periodically getting rid of our poison buildup by colonic, and liver cleanses and from the skin by sweating (artificially by sauna or by heavy exercise) and minimizing the toxins in our water, air and food will go a long way in keeping our telomeres longer. Keeping our hormones (Thyroid, Sex and Adrenal hormones) in balance and not getting sick also keeps our telomeres longer. To not get sick means keeping our immune system healthy to include the consumption of Pre and Probiotics. Surgery should be only for life saving problems and not for elective procedures since the operation and the anesthesia shortens the telomeres. Staying out of harms' way for bodily damage in our daily pursuits such as not over indulging in alcohol and dangerous sports and occupations will keep our telomeres and our lives longer.
Although it is far better to live a healthy life style, there are drugs that also have been shown to decrease our telomere shortening. The antihypertensives, Angiotension Converting Enzyme drugs such as Lisinopril and the Angiotension Recepter Blockers like Lorsartan have been shown to extend our telomeres. Likewise so has the Cholesterol lowering Statins. These drugs should be used judiciously, not to lower our lipids too much and to take concomitantly CoEnzyme Q 10. Also the diabetic medicine, Metformin, has been shown to be antiaging. But with this drug many physicians recommend using B12 too. Age is how old we are, but old is what our body is biologically. In reality it is not how old you are, but how you are when you are old that counts!