Why won’t you live forever? You should.

Cheers to your telomeres!

A biology professor once said something during lecture that shocked me.

“In theory, we should live forever.”

And when you think about it, this makes sense in a surprisingly intuitive way. Cells continuously replicate over our lifetimes, right? If this process were infallible, life would go on and on…

…but it isn’t and so it doesn’t.

Eventually some organ or system breaks down, or some cell decides to replicate out of control (causing some organ or system to break down…)

But if everything went according to our chromosomal plans and no degradation took place along the way, conceptually, we might just go on indefinitely.

The main reason we age

In an absurdly small nutshell, it’s a loss of information. Our bodies’ perpetually passed-down instruction manuals slowly lose pages.

When our cells divide, lots of proteins called enzymes cruise along your DNA, creating a copy of your chromosomes for the next generation cell.

But these enzymes make the occasional mistake. And, while stitching together a new DNA strand at the rate of 1000 segments per second… that doesn’t seem like much to complain about.

And we even have other enzyme teammates that follow closely behind to repair those mistakes but they’re not perfect either.

In addition, during each cell replication, most of our chromosomes are gradually getting shorter.

Telomeres, protectors of your DNA

Telomeres are simple. They’re the protective caps on both ends of your chromosomes and they give enzymes something to latch onto in order to begin replication. But each time, we lose a little of these ends, and as a result the replication enzyme sort of misses a little of the genetic information that it’s supposed to copy for the new cell and thus, an unfortunately shorter and shorter amount of necessary information is passed on for use in the next cell.

So can we eventually lose the information altogether?

Yes, we can… and we do

Eventually the DNA strand can get so short that it reaches its “critical length” and at this point, that bit of information is finished… the ends of the chromosome actually fuse together.

But our telomeres have a helper called telomerase. This enzyme actually restores bits of length on our shortening telomeres. Once again though, this process is not perfect. Over time, the losses outrun the repairs.

Mutations

And let’s include mutations in this overall idea of losing data. Mutations are different but the ultimate outcome is similar — the corruption or loss of information.

Only this time, the data might not only be lost, but rather mistakenly edited into dysfunctional instruction and I’m not sure which is worse- losing an instruction manual or going by an incorrect one.

So our bodies are slowly losing or erroneously rewriting our data and this lack of proper instruction starts to show itself in our skin’s appearance, hair color, muscle mass, bone density, etc. etc.

Little by little, these losses might be what ultimately contributes to many different losses of function.

And eventually…

Global loss of function

hey, it’s a lot better than the other word…

(death)

Keeping those telomeres lengthy

So now, for those interested in preserving youth (and who isn’t?), maybe we have a shot at this.

Let’s look at some research-based ideas that have been shown to potentially protect those little tails and keep us young –

Dr. Robin Berzin gives 5 approaches,

1. Maintaining a healthy weight.

Body mass index is negatively correlated with telomere length.

2. Regular exercise.

Simply put, athletes have longer telomeres than non-athletes.

3. Stress reduction (especially chronic).

Continually elevated cortisol levels lead to diminished telomerase activity.

4. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet

Think of reduced inflammation and an antioxidant rich environment as optimal for keeping telomeres lengthy.

5. Supplements

Any that can help achieve reduced inflammation and increased antioxidant levels might be a move in the right direction. Dr. Berzin suggests NAC, a precursor to glutathione, our body’s “master antioxidant”. I personally prefer NAC and a liposomal glutathione supplement daily.

Aside from these, I came across some fantastic articles on research highlighting fresh and exciting potential for telomere lengthening and youth preservation. You can check out them out below –

https://www.herox.com/blog/216-immortality-inc-the-telomere-lengthening-procedure

https://www.sciencealert.com/researchers-have-made-long-lived-mice-with-extended-chromosomes-inside-all-of-their-cells

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