Ageing is easy…we all do it without even trying! It’s ageing with vitality, which is the challenge that demands commitment and discipline. The WHO states that the average life expectancy is currently 78 years, however the HALE – Healthy Adjusted Life Expectancy – is more like 62 with the last 9 years of life proving to be unhealthy. The four common theories of ageing, aside from genetic and environmental are telomeres, free radical, mitochondrial and inflammation theory. It’s Telomere Theory, which excites me the most. What I am learning further affirms that everything we do in our lives DOES affect the way in which we age and prevention of disease is actually possible.
If I was to tell you there was a test, which would determine how you were ageing biologically, which is far more important than your chronological age, would you want to know the answer? If the results weren’t favourable, would you be willing to make the lifestyle changes required for an improved outcome? Testing the length of your telomeres trumps every test out there on assessing how we are ageing on a cellular level – the length of our telomeres is the strongest indicator of how quickly we are ageing and how old we REALLY are.
So, What Are Telomeres?
We are made up of trillions of cells and in those cells are chromosomes, which house our DNA. At the four tips of each chromosome are ‘telomeres’ which act as protective caps preventing loss of DNA. As our cells divide, telomeres become shorter, the process is often likened to your shoelace- if the plastic covering gets shorter the lace frays, which is what happens to our cells, as our telomeres get shorter. Short telomeres dramatically boost your risk of chronic disease such as Osteoporosis, Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes Type 2 and Cancer, which is why we need to do all we can to slow the process and even reverse it. Telomere testing is becoming an increasingly popular way to predict disease. When we are conceived our telomeres are at 15 kilobases, by the time we are born we are at 10 and when we die, we’re at 5 kilobases!
What Factors Cause Our Telomeres To Shorten?
An unhealthy lifestyle will accelerate the rate of telomere shortening, stress, smoking, a diet high in processed foods, excessive alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle and being overweight – all the things you would assume – are the culprits that cause accelerated telomere shortening.
How To Turn On Telomerase Activity
‘Telomerase’ is the enzyme that turns on a gene and protects cells from crisis by keeping telomeres long. At the genetic level, it maintains the structure of the DNA.
- A healthy diet and proper nutrition. Eat all of the foods of a Mediterranean diet, including an abundance of colourful organic vegetables and fruits rich in anti-oxidants and foods high in Omega 3
- Exercise regularly, however not excessively, as over training generates free radicals and inflammation. Include Yoga/Tai Chi.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Sleep and Rest – Aim to sleep eight hours or more per night.
- Minimise stress- Add 20 minutes per day of Meditation.
- Ensure Vitamin D levels are in optimal range.
- Minimise oxidative stress.
There is a natural herbal product to help maintain or rebuild telomeres and is available online. The down side is the exorbitant price. Sadly, all good things come with a price tag and this is one of them, so don’t get too excited unless you can afford it. The product is called TA65, which is a concentrated plant extract derived from the Astragalus plant traditionally used in Chinese medicine, which restores cellular function and possibly keeps you years younger than your chronological age. Studies show that it apparently increases life expectancy by 24% and the best thing about it is TA65 is a pure nutraceutical, that has no harmful chemicals in it. However, I wouldn’t recommend taking TA65 unless you first do the blood test to determine the length of your telomeres. It is wise to know where you are starting from so you can re-test to see if and by how much you have improved, before forking out so much money. Also, the dosage depends on your results, the shorter your telomeres the higher the dosage requirement, meaning the costlier it is. The lowest recommended dose is for a 40-year-old, but what if your test reveals that biologically you are more like 50 or 60? This could happen and does happen, which is why testing first is advisable. On my budget and for now I think I will stick to taking the Astragalus herbal supplement, which is extremely affordable and apparently does help with the immune system.
The best test currently available is a telomere test from a company called Life Length. Their Telomere Analysis Technology (TAT) was developed by Dr. Maria Blasco, one of the leading telomere researchers in the world and has been proven accurate in clinical studies.
Most other tests can only measure ‘average telomere length.’ Only the TAT test tells you how many ‘critically short’ telomeres you have. This means that 70% to 80% of the telomere has already eroded away. Those are the ones that can cause permanent cell damage. When telomeres become critically short they activate a gene, which gives the signal for the cell to go into emergency shutdown. The cell stops growing or dividing, energy production plummets, antioxidant activity drops, free radicals attack and more telomeres become critically short.
That’s why it’s important to get a handle on the length of your telomeres. By getting your telomere length tested, you can be in control of your health, so to ensure a positive effect on your cellular health; healthy eating, lots of sleep, sunshine, water, plants, stress management and positive loving relationships are paramount.
Before we add years to our life, we must add life to our years.
– Dr. Bill Andrews, Biologist
This test is available in Dubai through Eastern Biotech and currently takes 6-8 weeks to get the results. This is the only lab offering the Life Length test from Madrid, Spain. The regular price is AED 2,999 but if you mention REPs, you will avail of a special price of AED 2,500. For more information, go to www.lifelength.com or www.alsearsmd.com