Guest blog by: Dr. Mike Carragher
Telomere length gives us a unique view of how your cells are aging. Knowing this can help you decide how aggressive your anti-aging program should be.
Telomeres are sections of genetic material at the end of each chromosome whose primary function is to prevent chromosomal “fraying” when a cell replicates. Think of the plastic tip of shoelaces, protecting the shoelace. Telomeres protect chromosomes in the same way. As a cell ages, its telomeres become shorter. Eventually, the telomeres become too short to allow cell replication, the cell stops dividing and will ultimately die – a normal biological process.
Telomere testing measures the ‘biological age’ of your cells. It is one of the newest advancements in age management and anti-aging. It’s a simple blood test. Telomere testing determines the length of a person’s telomeres in relation to their age.
Evaluation of telomere length is an indicator of how rapidly one ages relative to a normal population. Therapies directed at slowing the loss of telomere length may slow aging and age-related diseases. Therefore it has a role in any anti-aging/age management program.
Hormones and Telomere Length
Scientists have found that telomerase, the enzyme that repairs and regulates telomeres, is controlled and activated by hormones. Therefore, in order to keep ourselves healthy and with a high quality of life, I believe we must maintain all our hormones at optimal levels. Letting those hormones drop is to let the telomeres get short. When telomeres get short, cells age. Aging causes disease, and death follows. Studies show that optimal levels of the hormones testosterone and estrogen levels help preserve telomere length.
Optimal Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels are also associated with telomere length. A 2009 study published by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism looked at 2744 men and found that telomere length was positively associated with serum IGF-1 levels. IGF-1 is the indirect measurement of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in the body. This positive association is reassuring to me when it comes to optimizing HGH levels.
Nutrition and Telomere Length
An inflammatory diet, or one that increases oxidative stress, will shorten telomeres faster. This includes refined carbohydrates, fast foods, processed foods, sodas, artificial sweeteners, trans fats and saturated fats. A diet with a large amount and variety of antioxidants that improves oxidative defense and reduces oxidative stress will slow telomere shortening. Consumption of 10 servings of fresh and relatively uncooked fruits and vegetables, mixed fiber, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, cold water fish, and high quality vegetable proteins will help preserve telomere length.
Lifestyle and Telomere Length
One should achieve ideal body weight and body composition with low body fat (less than 22 % for women and less than 16 % for men). Decreasing visceral fat is very important. Regular targeted aerobic and resistance exercise, using burst training to optimize human growth hormone release, sleeping for at least 8 hours per night to optimize hormones, stress reduction to optimize cortisol, and discontinuation of all tobacco products are strongly recommended.
Nutritional Supplements and Telomere Length
Oxidative stress will shorten telomere length and cause aging in cellular tissue. Antioxidant supplements can potentially reduce oxidative stress very effectively, which will ultimately improve oxidative defenses, mitochondrial function, reduce inflammation and slow vascular aging. Targeted supplementation is key, as antioxidants work synergistically and must be balanced to work most effectively and avoid inducing a pro-oxidant effect. My favorite antioxidants are Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Melatonin, and Marine Krill Oil.
When Should Testing Be Considered?
I recommend testing once per year to evaluate the rate of aging and make adjustments in hormonal optimization, nutrition, nutritional supplements, weight management, exercise and other lifestyle modifications known to influence telomere length.
To learn more about telomere and micronutrient testing, please visit our website at www.spectracell.com.
Dr. Mike Carragher, M.D.- The Body Well
For more information about our client Dr. Carragher, please visit his blog or contact him at (323) 874-9355.