Challenge stress vs threat stress, one helps with anti-aging, the other speeds up aging. Here are tips for extending telomere health!
Protecting the so-called “aglets” of a shoelace but rather referred to in the body as chromosomes, is key for slowed aging and optimal cell health.
Telomeres are little caps at the ends of your chromosomes keeping your genetic material from unraveling.
Considering the measurement of base pairs (nucleotides), a newborn has over 10,000 base pairs, a 35 year old close to 7,500 base pairs, and 65 years and older around 4,800 base pairs.
Unfortunately, through aging and the division of cells, telomeres wear down and shrink, and when they are too small, they no longer divide and become senescents– old cells consisting of old tissues and old organs.
Stress has been studied to be one significant factor to impact telomere length, and thus speeding up aging. Most specifically, stress as a form of threat to your physical, mental, or emotional state of being.
A study was performed measuring chronic stress in caregivers: social workers and moms caring for children with long-term disabilities. The study found that these caregivers, while under constant stress, experienced rapid telomere shortening and therefore, rapid aging.
Positively, a corresponding study showed that when caregivers were able to transform their daily stressors from threat-based to challenge-based, they trained their bodies to leverage stress in a positive way to lengthen telomeres.
Similar to how telomeres can be lengthened through exercise!
Consider reframing how you experience stress so you’re in control of how you think and feel to improve your telomere health.
An internal dialogue of: “This is happening for me, not to me.”
Additionally, here are foods studied to help improve telomere health as explained in the book, Eat To Beat Disease, by William Li:
almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, coffee, flax seeds, green tea, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, squash seeds sunflower seeds, tahini, and walnuts.
For additional research on telomeres and Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn’s work, visit the link below or check out her book, The Telomere Effect to see referenced studies.
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Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn: https://www.nobelprize.org/womenwhochangedscience/stories/elizabeth-blackburn#