How To Protect Your DNA (For Better, Slower Aging And Higher Quality Of Life)
Telomeres were first noted in the 1930s by scientists, and in 2010, Harvard Medical School connected the dots between telomere shortening and cellular aging. Telomeres are the DNA-protein complexes at the end of our chromosomes, which control how we age. Telomeres protect the genome, which is our complete set of genes or genetic material present in our cells, from degradation. It is a normal cellular process for telomere length to decrease as we age.
Telomeres influence how our chromosomes interact with each other, and if there is a weak connection between chromosomes, this opens the door to cell malfunction and a greater propensity for a disease that we might otherwise not have to contend with.
While the length of our telomeres change as we age, these changes are not linear or chronological, and not everyone’s cells age at the same rate throughout their lifetime. Telomeres can shorten more rapidly during times of high stress, smoking, obesity, poor diet, sleep deprivation, severe infection or illness. Additionally, when living a healthy and balanced life, the rate of telomere shortening can slow down significantly.
5 Things You Can Do To Lengthen Your Telomeres
- Stress support – Both chronic and acute stress have been shown to suppress our immune system and shorten our telomeres. Acute stress lasting a few weeks or a month can even change the length of telomeres. Stress management tools such as meditation, grounding, and earthing are all beneficial to our stress hormones. In addition to these tools, the use of the amino acid L-Theanine, or the adaptogens Rhodiola and Holy Basil, can be helpful in modulating stress hormones such as cortisol. A high-quality omega-3 fatty acid, like fish oil, is also excellent to include to manage stress and support brain health. Watch our show on “Healing Adrenal Fatigue,” if you are under chronic stress.
- Sleep quality and quantity are essential to our health. Aiming for 7 to 9 hours is key to optimizing and lengthening telomeres. Creating a healthy and peaceful environment can influence the quality of sleep as well as our sleep-wake cycle. We love eye masks, diffusers with lavender oil, and blackout curtains. Check out our blog on “5 Natural Sleep Tips” to ensure you sleep better tonight.
- Physical Activity – Walking and biking can both be a great form of natural exercise.
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to be beneficial in supporting telomere length. HIIT workouts or classes such as OrangeTheory are a great way to crank up metabolism while also supporting your genome. We recommend this type of workout 3-4x a week, and less for those with hormone imbalances or adrenal fatigue.
- Yoga, in the form of Bikram or Vinyasa, is great to add in on a routine basis. Yoga has been studied as a way to reduce stress hormones and oxidative stress. Yin and restorative yoga can also be added in for stress reduction.
- High-antioxidant rich foods have been associated with a reduced rate of telomere shortening in research studies. We have a whole blog dedicated to high-antioxidant rich foods called “Using Antioxidants to Reduce Inflammation.” This is an excellent read for those wanting to include more antioxidants in their diet using food as medicine by combining different foods for maximum antioxidant value.
- Watching your blood sugar – Chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes, can significantly affect our telomeres and DNA. Watching your blood sugar by tracking your fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c is a great way to monitor for diabetes. Getting routine blood work done is also important.
Find Out The Length Of YOUR Telomeres With A Genetic Test
Thanks to modern science, there are now DNA tests that can show us the length of our telomeres. TeloYears is a simple genetic test which reveals the cellular age of your DNA and allows you to see how well you are aging on a cellular level. It involves a simple finger prick test you can do at home and mail to the lab. The test uses statistical and scientific methods to measure your average telomere length and to determine your age in telo-years (based on the average telomere length of someone your same age and gender).
My test results provided me with quantifiable evidence that all of my healthy eating habits, as well as supporting my stress hormones and my microbiome have placed me at a younger age than I am biologically.
If you’d like to try out Teloyears to find out the cellular age of your DNA, use code WHOLE10 for 10% off your test. You can order here. The code expires 12/31/18.
Use Your Power To Slow The Aging Process
We all have the power to slow down our aging process by managing chronic stress (we all have stress, but we can respond vs. react to it for better health), improving both the quantity and quality of our sleep, and improving our diet and exercise routines.
Aging gracefully is key to living a high-quality life so that you can enjoy the things and people you love for many, many decades to come.
Leave us a comment and let us know what things you are willing to commit to doing to help keep your cells young!