Posted by James Quinn

Importance of Telomeres

   Telomeres are the repetitive nucleoid sequences at the ends of chromosomes.  In verterbrates this sequence is repeated around 2500 times.  These sequences protect the ends of chromozomes, preventing them from degradation or fusing with another chromosome.  They do not contain genetic information but instead protect the genetic information of a chromozone by functioning like a book end or similarly to the plastic ends of shoelaces.  During cell division a little bit of the telomeres are lost because the cell can not fully replicate itself; this is because RNA primers attach slightly ahead on the lagging strand and miss a portion. This is fine for the genetic information itself but the telomere becomes shorter. Cells are not able to replicate once the a telomere is gone 
   In 2009 the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was given to several scientists who confirmed the benefits how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.  Telomerase is an important enzyme in that it helps maintain the length of a telomere. Since this work was confirmed there has been an enormous interest into the correlation between telomere length and health/longevity.  Lifestyle factors such as exercise and stress are also thought to have an influence over telomere length.  It was late Speaker of The House Tip O'Neil who used to claim that all politics is local.  It can also be said that all health is local.  For example cancer cells do not lose telomere length when cells replicate which makes them that much stronger.  They are able to activate telomerase.
Here are the three main factors (besides cell division) that have been determined to contribute to telomere shortening
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
Smoking is of course a blanket point for virtually any health issue (nicotine is possibly the most detrimental compound to our endothelium) but let's consider the other two.  Stress levels have been shown in several studies to contribute to telomere shortening.  The most effective way to counteract this has been through meditation.  Studies have shown daily meditation to help maintain telomere length.  Sometimes lifestyle changes are necessary as well;  get out of that job that is literally killing you.
Contrary to obesity, exercise has been shown to maintain or perhaps lengthen telomeres.  Diet is extremely important in that a green diet filled with veggies is better for your telomeres than one heavy in processed foods.  Antioxidants are key.
This research moves forward daily.  Recently a Harvard team was able to switch the telomerase enzyme from off to on in mice; actually making old mice young.  This will be much more difficult to do in humans as we face greater hurdles such as additional proteins that bond to the enzyme and hold it dormant.   We at Life, Not Labs believe that chlorella is the best supplement for fighting the aging process.
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