Telomeres are the ends of human chromosomes that protect the ends of DNA strands from shortening and fraying.
Science shows that telomeres play a vital role in the aging process, so premature telomere shortening is something to avoid: short telomeres are associated with many diseases of aging.
So how can you lengthen or maintain healthy telomeres?
Well, there is this enzyme called telomerase that can slow, stop, or potentially reverse the shortening of telomeres as we age.
The problem is that you can’t take a telomerase supplement. Yet.
But you can do telomerase gene therapy with BioViva, a biotech company dedicated to reversing aging.
That’s going to be over $100,000, please.
While we wait for time, science, and demand to drive the price of gene therapy down to something more affordable, here are some things you can do to keep your telomeres healthy.
Eat your fiber.
A study published in 2018 looked at fiber intake and telomere length in more than 5,000 American adults.
The researchers found that there was a significant linear relationship between fiber intake and telomere length. The more fiber individuals consumed, the longer their telomeres tended to be.
See what the authors found:
“A difference of 4.8 to 6.0 years in cellular aging was found between those in the lowest compared to the highest quartiles of fiber intake. Overall, this study highlights the risk of accelerated aging among American women and men who do not consume adequate amounts of dietary fiber.”
The study reported that subjects consumed an average of 13.6 grams of fiber per day prior to beginning the study, which is less than 50% of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 14 g of fiber for every 1,000 calories.
- 2000 calories per day = 28 grams of fiber
- 2500 calories per day = 35 grams of fiber
The best part is some of the most healthy and delicious foods pack fiber.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Whole Wheat bread
- Brown Rice
It appears that a few servings of high-fiber foods a day keep telomere shortening in check.
Don’t skip HIIT.
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a form of cardio in which you alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise with longer strides of low-intensity exercise.
A 2018 study published in the European Heart Journal compared telomere length and telomerase activity after different types of exercise.
The study involved 124 people for six months divided into four groups:
- endurance training
- endurance training
- control group
Each group did three 45-minute sessions of their assigned type of exercise each week.
The researchers measured telomere length and telomerase activity in the participants’ white blood cells before and after the study.
Surprisingly, resistance training and the HIIT group increased telomere length and resistance training did not.
Take that omega-3s.
You’ve probably heard of many health benefits associated with omega 3s. Turns out they’re good for telomeres, too.
This study of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation found that taking omega-3 supplements alters the balance of oils in the diet and may reduce cellular aging.
The researchers found that the more the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 decreases, the greater the association with lengthened telomeres.
So how much should you take?
In this study, the clinically effective dose was 2.5 g of fish oil per day.
Maintain adequate levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is another vitamin touted as a panacea for health benefits, including healthy telomeres.
Adequate levels of vitamin D show a positive association with telomere length.
A study published in the Archives of Medical Science found that every 1 ng/mL of higher 25(OH)D level was associated with a 0.045 longer telomere-to-single-copy (T/S) ratio.
How do you know if you have adequate levels of vitamin D? You will need to taste it and dose it accordingly.
Affordable telomere lengthening intervention may be a few years away, but there are many things you can do today to lengthen your telomeres or prevent premature shortening.