Telomeres are the structures made from DNA sequences that serve to protect the end of a chromosome. They are essential for cell division and get shorter over time until they are no longer able to divide, eventually leading to cell death and speeding up the aging process.
Since every organ and tissue in the body is made up of cells, telomeres are crucial to maintaining health and youthfulness. Think you are unable to lengthen your telomeres? Think again. You have more control over it than you think. Here’s how to do it.
Ways to Increase Telomere Length
Studies show that those who have longer telomere lengths spend more time exercising than those who don’t. Obesity, in particular, has been linked to reduced telomere length and is also a cause of other health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. In order to maximize your telomere length, you can do the following:
- Exercise in moderation (3-5 sessions a week).
- Avoid going overboard or exercising excessively.
- Make sure to hydrate while exercising.
Eat a Mediterranean Diet
A healthy diet is essential to have good health and nutrition. Not only does it have the ability to affect your telomere length, but it can also prevent and protect you from a variety of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The Mediterranean diet, in particular, has been proven to promote health and longevity.
- Healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil and avocado, both of which help lower “bad” cholesterol.
- Fresh, unprocessed fruits without pesticides since they are packed with antioxidants.
- Green vegetables (raw, steamed, or sauteed) as they are rich in potassium.
- Fish such as salmon, which is a valuable source of omega-3.
- Sodium intake.
- Intake of processed/packaged foods.
- Refined grains such as white bread, pasta, and chips.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important functions of the body. It allows us to function optimally and helps to better the immune system. Those diagnosed with insomnia have been shown to have significantly shorter telomeres than those who achieved adequate amounts of sleep.
Sleep also allows your body to repair cells and eliminate toxins stored in the brain. In order to sleep better, you can try the following:
- Go to bed at the same time every night.
- Limit daytime naps
- Stop using electronics one hour before bedtime.
- If you can’t fall asleep, chamomile tea and lavender may be beneficial.
Stress is the number one killer for a reason. It increases the level of cortisol, the main stress hormone, as well as insulin and cellular oxidation. It is also known to cause significant health issues and shorten telomere length. The best way to reduce stress levels is to do the following:
- Meditate for 20 minutes each day.
- Take supplements that relax the body and mind (such as magnesium, GABA, or other supplements recommended by your nutritionist).
- Take deep breaths when you feel your body is overloaded.