In my last article, I gave you the labs you should run to know how quickly or how slowly your body is aging. I talked about how your telomeres, the end caps of your chromosomes, determine how long you live. Basically, the shorter your telomeres, the shorter your life!
After running these seven labs, we have to get them all in the optimal range. I want to give you a variety of ways that peer-reviewed research has shown to be effective in preserving and extending telomere length and, in turn, extending your life:
1. Increase your glutathione levels.
Glutathione is your body's most powerful antioxidant, and is one of the reasons why people don't get cancer. Low levels are linked to accelerated aging and chronic disease. Many people are deficient in this essential antioxidant. Nutrients like N-acetyl cysteine and turmeric have been shown to help boost glutathione in the body and preserve telomeres.
2. Manage stress.
It is no secret that negative emotions and situations aren't good for your health. Research has shown that chronic stress actually shortens your telomere lengths, which accelerates your aging. One study even found a telomeric shortening on children who were abused. Another study found similar results in women under chronic stress. Getting yourself out of caustic situations is essential for your health. Also, starting and ending your day with tai chi or meditation can help break chronic stress and therefore preserve your telomeres.
3. Burst training.
You don't have to be a gym junkie to be healthy. High intensity interval training (HIIT) or burst training for less than half an hour a few times a week has been shown to increase your body's cellular repair anti-aging mechanisms and preserve telomeres.
4. Intermittent fasting.
Sounds intense, but the temporary restriction of calories has been shown to have a significant rejuvenative effect on the aging process. Studies have shown that animals who ate about 30 percent fewer calories also lived about 30 percent longer than the animals that ate more. One study also showed a reduction of cancer risk with intermittent fasting. This may not be for everyone, but is one way to increase the release of your body's anti-aging hormones and preserve of telomere length.
5. Eat a variety of plant foods.
We're alive because of biochemistry. Our bodies function because of nutrients, and vegetables are straight out of nature's medicine cabinet. Each color variety offers you a unique array of the nutrients your body craves. Studies have suggested that a wide variety of plant food provides the essential nourishment your body needs to preserve your telomeres. I speak to many people who tell me, "Well, I don't eat vegetables," or, "I only like these two vegetables," or the infamous, "I like corn" (corn is a grain, not a vegetable). They've decided ahead of time which vegetables they will and won't eat. When I have them try something they thought they hated, these people often end up actually liking it. For the ones who still don't like the taste? I tell them what I tell my two little kids: Sometimes in life we do things we don't feel like doing, because it's good for us and we're big kids now.
6. Drink tea.
We've all read about the health benefits of tea, but one you may not have known is tea's effect on your telomeres. One study found that those who drank three cups of tea per day had significantly longer telomeres than those who drank only a small amount. Green tea has a much higher percentage of valuable nutrients called polyphenols than black tea.
7. Eat healthy fats.
If you read MindBodyGreen, you realize that the low-fat diet approach to health that has been promulgated for the last 50 years has made us sicker than ever before. Good fats are essential for a healthy, long life. Research has linked healthy fat consumption with an extension of your telomeres and youth. Also remember your brain is made of 60% fat and 25% cholesterol! Fats like coconut oil, fermented cod liver oil, butter oil, grass-fed beef and avocado aid in optimal brain, cellular and hormonal function. These fats are also needed for fat soluble vitamins like A, D and K2 to be used by the body. Both these fats and fat-soluble vitamins are needed for the preservation of your telomeres.
8. Get quality sleep.
Quality sleep is essential for cellular repair and vitality. Poor sleeping habits, whether from conditions like sleep apnea, insomnia or just erratic work schedules, have been linked to accelerated aging and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and telomere shortening. The individual cause of your poor sleep will determine the treatment. Seeing a functional medicine practitioner or other qualified health care provider should be a priority if you are experiencing poor sleep.