The Telomere Tell All: Diving Into the Fountain of Youth
Episode 14 is here!
Oh, if only we could stop the aging process. Although there is no way to keep our bodies young, we can keep them young, longer. In this episode, the EmPOWERment Couple talks about the mechanics behind the aging process. If you know the factors that age your body, you can manipulate those factors so that it doesn’t age as fast. You can change gears and thus reduce some of the wear and tear that is generated from a life of stress and distress.
In this episode you will learn:
- Why we age
- How our bodies age
- Stressors that accelerate aging
- Lifestyle practices that will slow down the aging process
- And an overview of the latest medical trends to reduce the signs of aging
Join us as we serve you a healthy slice of love and laughter paired with a tasty drink from the fountain of youth. Age ain’t nothing but a number! The real question is, what’s your telomere age?
In the famous words of Queen, “who wants to live forever..” Maybe immortality isn’t an option, but growing old is. Who wants to be a centurion? For those who don’t know what that is, a centurion is a person who is 100 years old, or older.
Did you know that there are places on the planet where there are high concentrations of centurions called blue zones? We just watched a show on Netflix that visited one of these blue zones. The show was called Down to Earth, and during this episode, they showed evidence that longevity is primarily a byproduct of their lifestyle and secondary a byproduct of the genes they inherited.
What this means, is that if you want to live a long healthy life, you need to focus on your lifestyle and go through the process of knowing what is happening inside your body.
Today’s show is going to be about the mechanics behind the aging process. If you know how your body ages, you can manipulate it so that it doesn’t age as fast. You can change gears and thus reduce some of the wear and tear that is generated from a life of stress and distress. You will learn why we age, how we age, stressors that accelerate aging, and things that will slow down the aging process.
We have discovered the fountain of youth, the one thing that will allow you to hold onto your beauty, strength, and power. This fountain of youth is called knowledge, and we are about to serve you some, with a nice side helping of love.
So, to get down to the mechanics of aging, we need to switch our perspective. We need to be able to visualize exactly how we age and in order to do so, we need to look at our cells. On the show, Mikey takes us on a journey but if you’d like to watch a video this one is excellent.
The body contains the following cells: stem, bone, blood, muscle, fat, skin, nerve, endothelial, sex, pancreatic, and the plus one, cancer.
What we want, is to eliminate the Plus One. Many of us unknowingly, have benign cancer cells in our bodies. The goal of course is to rid the body of these cells while also making sure that none of them turn into malignant cancer cells.
Hey, do you know what makes sex cells unique? When they go through mitosis, instead of holding onto all 46 chromosomes, they only hold on to half of them, 23, so that the other half can be received by the cell’s mate during copulation.
Scientists have discovered that when we are born, the DNA in our cells have a set amount of telomeres. There are some cells that have the ability to grow new telomeres, such as stem cells, and there are some cells that do not go through the process of mitosis such as those found in brain neurons. The rest of the cells undergo mitosis in order to grow and repair bones and tissue.
These cells will reproduce themselves as long as they have a certain amount of telomere. Studies show that “As a normal cellular process, telomere length decreases with age. Telomere length in humans seems to decrease at a rate of 24.8–27.7 base pairs per year.” This range would be considered normal, or baseline. Imagine then, due to DNA stress, this range could increase to 50-100 base pairs per year.
Two points of interest come to mind based on these facts.
1. There is a limited amount of telomere, so, what happens if our telomere runs out?
2. The sooner we make the necessary changes to limit our telomere shortening, the sooner we begin to slow the aging process down. Therefore, if you are interested in living a long and healthy life, start your longevity practices immediately!
We are going to get into what a longevity practice looks like in a bit, but to answer the first point of interest, here is an interesting fact: According to Dr. Leonard Hayflict, once the cell is down to its last few telomeres, it reaches its “Hayflick Limit,” and the cell’s damage control measure kicks in. One of the first things that a cell does once it reaches the Hayflick Limit, is that it loses its ability to split again and becomes what is called a senescent cell.
A senescent cell is unable to multiply. These senescent cells stay in the body, but because they can’t repair themselves, they will look and act differently. So imagine what a bunch of senescent cells would look like within the cells that make up the human eye. Instead of clear healthy eyes, you would see cataracts. Senescent skin cells on the face will have lost their taunt healthy glow and you would see them sag and wrinkle.
Although nobody wants to age, unless you are a teenager, senescent cells are a sign that your cells are doing what they are created to do. If, when a cell reaches its Hayflick limit, and yet continues to double, or go through mitosis, it could expose its DNA to contaminants which will cause that cell to operate in a different manner, or mutate. Cells that undergo mutations are capable of becoming cancer cells. Once a normal cell becomes a cancer cell, the cancer cell begins to reproduce their DNA’s telomere allowing them to grow at a rapid rate. As these cancer cells grow at will and without natural limits, they create tumors.
So, now that we have a better understanding of the location and function of the telomere, it’s time to answer everyone’s number one question. What can we do to slow the aging process? Well, the word anti-aging is stamped on the minds of billions of consumers who are wanting to get younger instead of older. However, our bodies naturally age, just like all living creatures on this planet. There is no way to naturally stop the aging process. I’m sure that at some point science fiction will meet up with science and we may be able to pop a pill and just like that, we are vampires. But, the word anti-aging is extremely misleading. If we were to call it what it is, the term would be closer to idle-aging, where we can slow down the aging process.
If you are in your late 30’s and you started practicing longevity, you may find yourself in your 40’s and possibly 50’s, feeling and looking like you are still in your late 30’s. However, if you started practicing longevity in your early 20’s, you just may find yourself in your 40’s and 50’s, looking and feeling as you did in your 20’s. If you have ever seen the movie, “Interview with a Vampire,” Kirsten Dunce’s character was turned into a vampire when she was a young child and therefore spent her immortal years as a child. The younger you start, the longer you will look and feel the age you started. So, start now!
“Your 40s are good. Your 50s are great. Your 60s are fab. And 70 is f*@king awesome!” ~Helen Mirren
Remember what we said, that from the fountain of youth flows knowledge. Well, let’s get into some knowledge. According to scientists, “Shorter than the average telomere length for a specific age group, has been associated with an increased incidence of age-related diseases and/or decreased lifespan in humans. Telomere length is affected by a combination of factors including age, genetics, epigenetic make-up and environment, social and economic status, exercise, body weight, and smoking. Gender does not seem to have any significant effect on the rate of telomere loss.”
To make it easier to understand we can lump all these factors into stress. Specifically, the stress that is regularly inflicted upon a cell. Regardless of the type of cell, which we discussed earlier, if a cell, say a skin cell, incurs regular stress, then the number of telomeres shed during mitosis increases. Every one of the factors will focus on a certain type of stress. Social and economic stress may have the individual worried about money, so they work too much and place too much stress on the body. The body is made of cells, so you are in fact stressing the cell when you are stressing the body.
Accelerating the Aging Process:
We continued to dig and found hard evidence that of all of the stressors that our cellular bodies incur, there are some big telomere bullies.
Avoid or quit cigarettes immediately. Scientists have proven the following, “In a study conducted in white blood cells of women indicates that telomeric DNA is lost at an average rate of ‘25.7–27.7 base pairs’ per year and with daily smoking of each pack of cigarettes, an additional ‘5 base pairs’ is lost. Therefore, the telomere attrition caused by smoking one pack of cigarettes a day for a period of 40 years is equivalent to 7.4 years of life”
Obesity research has shown that, “Telomeres in obese women have been shown to be significantly shorter than those in lean women of the same age group]. The excessive loss of telomeres in obese individuals was calculated to be equivalent to 8.8 years of life, an effect that seems to be worse than smoking. Together these data indicate that obesity has a negative impact on telomeres and may unnecessarily expedite the process of aging.
Pollution when we breathe in any pollutant, it attacks various tissues in the body. So, if we are consistently breathing in, or ingesting toxic chemicals into our body that damage tissues say in the kidney, then the kidney will speed up the repair process which causes stress to our DNA. As a result, in order to protect the DNA, the telomere reduction rate increases. The same is true with the toxic chemicals we absorb through our skin.
This is why we dedicated a whole episode in how to detoxify your home where we focused on purifying your air, with an Intellipure air filter, and replacing toxic cleaning chemicals with Branch Basics. Listen to that episode here.
Stress comes in many forms but all of it can accelerate the aging process. For the purpose of this show, we will focus on emotional stress. Although physical stress on the body in some cases strengthens the body, think of a bodybuilder, emotional stress will only weaken the body. We can get conditioned to dealing with emotional stress, but the conditioning is in the mind and not in the body.
The body will pay for the mind’s decision to endure high volumes of stress. Although you may high five yourself for fighting your way up the corporate ladder and accumulating wealth and power, you may find yourself spending your wealth and giving up your power to buy back your biggest asset, your health. Scientists have proven that “The stress is associated with the release of glucocorticoid hormones by the adrenal gland. These hormones have been shown to reduce the levels of antioxidant proteins and may, therefore, cause increased oxidative damage to DNA and accelerated telomere shortening”
One of the reasons people get old—lose their aliveness—is that they get weighed down by all of their stuff.” ~Richard Leider
I guess the obvious question is: What happens when our telomeres shorten? Well, the natural response to this problem is for the cell to become senescent as previously stated. However, not all cells will follow directions. As we combine the efforts of the telomere bullies, many people find themselves in a stationary position for most of the day, battling work stress, eating junk food, and self-medicating with tobacco and alcohol.
As we increase stress on the body, we also increase the likelihood that the aging cell will go rogue, and instead of becoming a senescent cell, they continue to divide and begin to mutate into a cancer cell.
According to research, “Several studies indicate that shorter telomeres are a risk factor for cancer. Individuals with shorter telomeres seem to have a greater risk for the development of lung, bladder, renal cell, gastrointestinal, and head and neck cancers. Certain individuals may also be born with shorter telomeres or may have a genetic disorder leading to shorter telomeres. Such individuals are at a greater risk to develop premature coronary heart disease and premature aging. Deficiency of telomerase RNA gene in a genetic disorder dyskeratosis congenita leads to shorter telomeres and is associated with premature graying, predisposition to cancer, vulnerability to infections, progressive bone marrow failure, and premature death in adults.”
Slow Down The Aging Process:
Ok, it’s time to switch tracks and talk about what we can do to slow this process.
A healthy organic diet is one of the easiest ways to stay as young as old as possible. Everything that we eat will do one of two things on your body. Your food will either increase the amount of oxidative stress upon your cells or decrease the amount of oxidative stress upon your cells. As the study, we just shared states, increased oxidative damage to our DNA accelerates our telomere shortening rate. Therefore, when practicing longevity, seek out foods high in antioxidants, and avoid food that increases free radical levels in the body.
Studies have shown that “Oxidative stress is now thought to make a significant contribution to all inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, vasculitis, lupus, adult respiratory diseases, heart diseases, stroke, hemochromatosis, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, emphysema, gastric ulcers, hypertension and preeclampsia, neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and muscular dystrophy, alcoholism, smoking-related diseases, and many others. An excess of oxidative stress can lead to the oxidation of lipids and proteins, which is associated with changes in their structure and functions.”
“About 25 percent of your risk of death is due to genetics. Of the remaining 75 percent, diet is likely the most important factor.” –Luigi Fontana, director of the longevity research program at Washington University in St. Louis
According to current research, “One of the best models of healthy eating is the Mediterranean diet which is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, and cereals (mainly unrefined); a moderate to high intake of fish; a low intake of saturated lipids but high intake of unsaturated lipids, particularly olive oil; regular but moderate intake of alcohol, specifically wine. This diet has been shown to prevent age-associated telomere shortening and has been associated with reduced mortality risk in older people.”
The next time you are in the market, fill up your cart with antioxidant-rich foods such as:
- Dark chocolate
- Goji berries
- Red cabbage
- Whole grains
- Green, white, black, and oolong are all high in antioxidants.
There are several types of antioxidants, and these are the better-known antioxidants:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
To maximize antioxidant activity, eat more Omega-3’s! Check this bit of information out, “ A study by Farzaneh-Far and associates, indicates that a diet containing antioxidant omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a reduced rate of telomere shortening, whereas a lack of these antioxidants correlates with an increased rate of telomere attrition in study participants.
The authors followed omega-3 fatty acid levels in blood and telomere length in these individuals over a period of 5 years and found an inverse correlation, indicating that antioxidants reduce the rate of telomere shortening. Similarly, the women who consumed a diet lacking antioxidants had shorter telomeres and a moderate risk for the development of breast cancer, whereas the consumption of a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene was associated with longer telomeres and lower risk of breast cancer]. Antioxidants can potentially protect telomeric DNA from oxidative damage caused by extrinsic and intrinsic DNA damaging agents.”
Eat less, this reduces the oxidative burden, which reduces oxidative damage of DNA, which keeps us in a younger biological state. Another study found that higher levels of fiber consumption were correlated with longer telomeres, suggesting that a high-fiber diet may account for reduced biological aging.
Vegan and Vegetarian Diets:
For all the vegans and vegetarians out there, let it be known that studies show that plant-based diets are also linked to longer telomeres and higher telomerase activity. “In a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, data from 3,660 U.S. adults looked at diets rich in carotenoids and telomere length. The study found that a carotenoid-rich diet was linked to longer telomeres. Carotenoids are the organic pigments responsible for the bright colors of many fruits and vegetables.”
While you are in the market, be mindful of how much alcohol, red meat, and sugar-heavy foods make it into your basket. These foods, amongst other negative effects on the body, create inflammation. Inflammation creates free-radicals which increases oxidative stress. Scientists have shown that “Telomere length is inversely associated with consumption of alcohol, red meat, or processed meat …the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with shorter telomeres, whereas the consumption of 100% fruit juice was associated with a higher telomere length.”
As with all aspects of health, exercise plays a massive role in strengthening, balancing, and detoxifying the body. Studies show that “ Exercise can reduce harmful fat and help mobilize waste products for faster elimination, leading to reduced oxidative stress and preservation of DNA and telomeres. Researchers demonstrated that exercise was associated with elevated telomerase activity and suppression of several apoptosis proteins, including p53 and p16, in mice. Consistently, in humans, the leukocytes derived from athletes had elevated telomerase activity and reduced telomere shortening, relative to nonathletes. Exercise seems to be associated with reduced oxidative stress and elevated expression of telomere stabilizing proteins and may, therefore, reduce the pace of aging and age-associated diseases.”
Exercise has a positive effect on telomere length primarily by reducing the oxidative stress load on the body through rapid elimination…breathing and sweating out toxins than if stayed in the body, would increase telomere shortening.
“The trouble is, when a number—your age—becomes your identity, you’ve given away your power to choose your future.” ~Richard J. Leider
There’s a discussion about using words like, still, maintain as if those older than 60 can “still” do certain activities or “maintain activities” and this creates the idea that a certain age means a decline in physical ability. Think of Enerstein Shepherd didn’t start exercising until she was 56 years old but since then she’s gone on to win two female bodybuilding titles.
Studies show that mind-body practices such as meditation and yoga can both slow telomere shortening, and in some cases, may extend telomere length by coaxing the body to release telomerase in small, targeted doses. Endurance and high-intensity interval training are the keys to aging gracefully, according to new research from the European Heart Journal found that exercises such as running, swimming and biking are better for aging than strength training with weights.
Another study from the University Clinic of the Saarland in Germany found that a single 45-minute jog spiked telomerase activity in exercisers for several hours after, while a traditional weight-machine circuit had little to no effect. After working out three times per week for six months, the joggers-as well as a HIIT group (alternating four-minute hard runs with equal jogs)-saw a 3 to 4 percent increase in telomere length; the weights group saw no change.
Beauty And Telomeres:
Did you know that the global anti-aging market was estimated to be worth nearly $200 billion in 2019? And while we have purchased several gadgets that helped this industry thrive, research points to the key to activating your internal fountain of youth is deeper than skin treatments and cosmetic gadgets. The RSPH’s research, titled, “How Attitudes to Aging Affect Our Health and Wellbeing,” found that more than twice as many women (49%) than men (23%) feel pressured to stay looking young, and it describes fears about aging as gendered, with women feeling more pressure to stay “young” for longer. The term, anti-aging has recently been removed from many marketing campaigns and product labels.
To replace it the same beauty industry is now using age-defying and other similar terms.
The science is clear that while many are partaking in artificial medical, cosmetic, and technological advances to appear younger, this isn’t extending life, and it isn’t making anyone younger or actually helping telomeres extend. In essence, people may look younger temporarily, but they are not living better. Therefore they are superficially looking to be younger, while not feeling great or living longer. Whatsmore is these cosmetic treatments have health consequences and are extremely expensive.
Some cosmetic treatments are using the patient’s own stem cells and blood in facial rejuvenation procedures. The two most common are stem cell facelifts and PRP facials also known as Vampire facials. These are not treatments that we have experienced first hand but they do tie into this conversation of locating the natural fountain of youth which is actually available in our own body.
PRP is a blood plasma-based protein solution packed with a concentration of platelets and white blood cells, which fight against infection and can encourage the production of collagen.PRP therapy uses the patient’s own blood as material, the blood is put into a centrifuge that separates out platelets from the blood and then adds them to a serum. Once the PRP serum is made, it is injected into the area being treated. Or in the case of a vampire facial, it is used in combination with micro-needling. This process creates micro-wounds that allow for products like serums, growth factors, and PRP to be pushed deep into the skin and stimulate the body’s own healing process. I do use an at-home microneedle that I can link you to if you’re interested but it’s best to practice any facial technique with your esthetician or dermatologist.
Stem-cell Facelifts offer a natural-looking alternative to the traditional surgical facelift. Oftentimes it is called stem cell rejuvenation and it involves a series of minimally invasive injections of your body’s own stem cells into your face. Again this is something to discuss with a professional. We haven’t participated in either technique but have friends and colleagues that swear by this alternative to toxic fillers and cosmetic surgical procedures.
Lifestyle and Healthy Habits:
We need to address that fancy procedure, and topical treatments are nice, but science points mostly to lifestyle and habits.
“To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.” ~Pearl S. Buck
To be clear, in this episode we really want to demystify the anti-aging craze. We also wanted to cater to your longevity curiosity, the business of biohacking, and share that there is no secret formula for stopping the aging process. The key is really in your lifestyle and how living better, will simply slow down and reverse some of the aging processes. Again, we know that with health and slowing down the oxidation process, it all comes back to your healthy habitual rituals. That is why our next course, launching very soon, is all about empowering you with absolute clarity on how to implement what we are sharing here. More on that in the coming episode as we launch one of the most powerful products.
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” ~Franz Kafka
If this episode has piqued your curiosity with how old you really are in telomere years, there are tests you can take to determine this. There are even suggestions based upon the testing that your practitioner can discuss with you. Ask your dietician, or functional medicine doctor, if they’re familiar with the tests and the protocols to help you and look into how you can not only extend your life but enhance your life with youthful energy and focus.
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ~Sophia Loren
We hope this empowered you to live fully, live now, and be the beautiful you!! Now go and Be The Beautiful You.