Are you a doctor? Scientist? Did you see a commercial about telomeres Anyways…that’s irrelevant. You clicked on this article and therefore must want to learn about telomeres. Telomeres are small, but complicated. You would need an electromagnetic shrinking machine from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids or a powerful microscope to see them so just trust us, they exist. Even though this subject matter is complex stuff we’re going to try and make the science of telomeres simple. Well…as simple as possible. You may not remember much from your last biology course, but hopefully you have a general understanding of cells and DNA. That knowledge will help you appreciate why there is now an emerging focus on telomeres. The research is new and exciting so let’s explain the three things to know about telomeres.
1. What are telomeres?
The discovery of telomeres is partially accredited to Barbara McClintock. Barbara was a distinguished American cytogeneticist and the first woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In 1933, she hypothesized the existence of a special structure that would maintain chromosome stability. That hypothesis was proven to be accurate and later defined as a telomere. Telomeres act a lot like the endcap on a shoelace. They are the final end pieces of DNA that keep our chromosomes from falling apart. That kind of natural defense sounds beneficial, right? But the bad thing about telomeres is as we age their length shortens and eventually our cells can no longer divide. This is critical because our body is constantly turning over and replacing old cells with new ones by copying themselves. Each time your cells divide, the telomere protecting those cells shortens until they eventually breakdown too. Without this telomere fortification your chromosomes are the next thing to become damaged.
Read more: you may have more control over aging than you think
2. Does that mean telomeres are important?
Yes. Without telomeres you wouldn’t be able to properly replicate DNA. But are you thinking telomeres are the key to aging and combating cancer? This might actually be true. Cancer is basically uncontrolled cell division. As we mentioned, the reason telomeres are vitally important is they’re necessary for successful cell division. The theory is that if telomeres can be protected, it could help prevent cancer from ever happening in your body. Is the aging process linked to telomeres? It is also believed telomeres could be linked to improving your biological age. Remember telomere length declines as we get older and science is starting to discover that many age related diseases are linked to shortened telomeres such as:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Dyskeratosis congenita
- Pulmonary fibrosis
This is getting serious, but we have good news too! Even with all this talk of age related diseases, some recent studies indicate telomere length can be affected by various lifestyle factors. This means there are things you can do to impact how long your telomeres can function properly. And if you’re paying attention, you want your telomeres performing at their best.
Read more: are telomeres the key to aging and cancer?
3. Can you stop telomeres from shortening?
The exciting news is yes you can! Like usual, a lot of the expert’s recommendations begin with your lifestyle and diet. Meditate and be proactive about reducing your stress levels. Exercise regularly and be sure to get plenty of sleep. Have a diet and skincare regimen that contains a healthy dose of vitamins B, C, D, E, and antioxidant rich superfoods. Surprisingly, one of the most interesting telomere shielding compounds originates from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine called Huang Qi (also known as astragalus root).
Read more: prevent telomere shortening
What are the known benefits of astragalus root?
There are several benefits to adding astragalus root to your supplements, smoothies and skincare:
- Astragalus root boosts your immune system and has been proven effective in Chinese studies to reduce and even suppress malignant cancerous tumor growth.
- Astragalus is a powerful anti-inflammatory known to reduce redness and inflammation and is often used as an effective treatment for chronic inflammatory diseases (like COPD and sarcoidosis).
- Astragalus extract has been proven to accelerate wound repair, decrease the time needed for fractures to heal, improve blood flow and stimulate stem cells.
- Most impressively it has shown evidence of reversing cell damage, improved immune response in HIV patients, accelerated nerve regeneration and has been proven to activate telomerase and lengthen and strengthen telomeres.
Feeling and looking young is all up to you! Avoiding unhealthy habits and focusing on your personal well-being will impact how old you look and feel. We may sound like your parents, but eating healthy and strengthening your body with vitamins, nutrients and superfoods is always a good decision. Watch your sugar and alcohol intake. Manage your stress and be sure to get enough sleep. Each of these steps are a smart foundation to looking and feeling great for years to come. And for those of us looking to go above and beyond, consider adding a secret weapon like astragalus root to your skincare routine and smoothie regimen. This will help make sure your biological age is years younger than your actual one. We hope you’ll use your extra longevity to share our secrets with the world!