Telomeres are protective caps at the end of DNA strands called chromosomes, which house our genome, our genetic material. In young humans, it’s length is 8000 to 10,000 nucleotides long. Telomere’s length, however, shortens with every cell division until it ultimately stops dividing or it dies.
Why is this important?
The longer your telomere is indicates that you are aging more slowly. We at the Salerno Center are now routinely measuring telomere length with a simple blood test. We can then follow treatments such as iv vitamin therapy, chelation and detoxing, oral supplements, diet, and lifestyle changes to show its effects on the length of the telomere. Keeping telomeres long, lengthening them, or at least slowing their shortening are all quantitative signs that our treatment is working. There are many well-designed studies that show multiple factors that cause advanced shortening of our telomeres. Stress, poor sleeping habits, poor diets, obesity, smoking, and alcohol all accelerate aging.
Patients with MTHFR genes, if left untreated, will cause increased methylation of DNA repair mechanisms and hence shortening of the telomeres. This is why measuring MTHFR and treating with methylated B vitamins is a vital part of delaying the aging process. Shortened telomeres are associated with depression. They can also lead to tumor formation. While there is a 20 to 30 percent genetic contribution to long telomeres, most of the population can modify their telomeres through lifestyle changes. Exercise increases telomere length, as well as omega-three fatty acids and vegetables and fruits with high antioxidants. Of recent interest resveratrol from red wine and nicotinamide dinucleotide, available as a supplement can also increase telomere length. Additionally, astragalus root has been shown to increase telomere length in studies.
Clearly, telomeres that are shortened are prevalent in many disease states, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, etc. Insulin resistance as a consequence of high sugar and starch diets as well as impact telomeres at the vascular level and thus contribute to arteriosclerosis. The current use of umbilical stem cells and exosomes are being studied on its possible effects for lengthening telomere. While this is all an emerging and exciting field of anti-aging medicine, we must continue to follow the research as it is still evolving.
In the meantime, enjoy a good low carb lifestyle, exercise, de-stress, and get proper sleep. We at the Salerno Center have also developed a strong multi-vitamin-mineral combination that is designed to get telomeres long and healthy. Also, enjoy green tea as often as possible and an occasional red wine, preferably a Pino Noir.