The buzz in today’s wellness craze is living to 150 years old! If you listen to Joe Rogan, David Asprey, Tim Ferriss, Peter Diamandis & other longevity experts, you get blown away by the potential of a longer and healthy life span. A recent documentary, The Human Longevity Project, was a 9 part series that really shows the excitement and the interest in this topic. There’s even a company called Ambrosia, that does transfusions of young blood to reduce the aging process and disease for people searching for the fountain of youth, so it claims. The cost for this procedure is $8,000-$12,000 per session. The drive for the latest health technology is not slowing down in the near future.
It is to easy to go down a rabbit hole searching for the latest on staying healthy and young. Please read our blog posts on fasting, ketosis and the microbiome to get started on your own healthy life project. These are the cliff-notes and all it will cost you is 10 minutes!! 🙂
What are Telomeres?
We can’t change our chronological age, but we can change our biological age. You can be 40 biologically when you’re 60 years old, and if you don’t take care of yourself, you can be 60 when the calendar says your 40. The magic is in the tips of your chromosomes, called telomeres. Just like the plastic caps of a shoelace that prevents it from fraying, telomeres protect our genetic material. They protect the cells from aging too quickly, but they do this based on the information they are given from our environment and how we take care of our bodies. They can also speed up cellular aging if they receive “bad” information, for example processed food or stress.
The length of the telomeres determines your health, or lack thereof. To keep our bodies healthy, cells divide over and over but when telomeres become shortened, the cell stops dividing. This causes your tissues to age, pro-inflammatory substances are released and you become more susceptible to chronic disease. Shorter telomeres are associated with increased biological age and here is where disease enters the picture. These are a few examples that have been shown to be correlated with shortened telomeres:
- Autoimmune disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- General Decreased Immunity
- Skin Aging
When telomeres are lengthened, we have healthy cell renewal and better overall health. Genetics do play a role in the length and degradation of our telomeres, but the good news is that there is a lot we can do to positively affect them. The best way to slow down the shortening of your telomeres, and potentially lengthen them, is through a healthy lifestyle, for example: healthy nutrition, antioxidants, Vitamins A, D and K, adequate sleep, meditation, yoga, weight training and high intensity interval training; even laughing can help keep your telomeres lengthened and healthy.
How Does Interval Training Keep Us Young?
When you exercise at higher intensity levels such as in interval training (HIIT) and weight training, you stimulate fast twitch muscle fibers type IIa and IIb. Fast twitch fibers do not get recruited during steady state aerobic training like jogging or cycling. These are the muscle fibers that help you build strength, power and shape your body. More recovery is needed with higher intensity exercise. Exercise does cause a short stress response but it also induces autophagy, the body’s process of cleaning up damaged cells, so as we recover from intense exercise, healthy cell renewal is promoted.
Another bonus effect of interval training is that you increase your aerobic capacity by working your anaerobic system. For example, when you sprint hard for 15 seconds and rest for 45 seconds, your aerobic system aides in the recovery of your anaerobic system. It is amazing what you can do in 10-20 minutes of smart interval training for your heart, your body, and your telomeres. There was an interesting study out of King’s College London which monitored the exercise intensity levels of twins and the effects on their telomeres, asking the age old question about nature vs. nurture. With over 2400 participants, they showed that even with the same genetic make-up, those who exercised at higher intensity levels had longer telomeres and were, on average, 9 years younger biologically than their twin. WOW!
Stress is one of the biggest things that shortens the telomeres, which is another reason exercise is crucial when we lead stressful lives. We can negate some of the shortening effects of stress through the cell clean up process that is induced during exercise. Yes, exercise is good for you for a zillion reasons! 😉
Eat well, exercise, have fun and enjoy life! Your telomeres will stay longer, your cells will continue to renew and your body will stay younger as the number of candles on your birthday cake increase with each passing year!
Curious about how long your telomeres are?
*Disclaimer: The information in this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult your doctor before considering any new diet, supplementation, or other changes to your normal nutrition and exercise routine.