6 Lifestyles Choices for Telomere Health

Curious to learn how to live a longer and healthier life? Could telomeres be part of the puzzle? Learn the 6 Lifestyle Choices for Telomere Health!

In simple English, telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes. You can think about the plastic cap on the end of a shoelace that stops the lace from unraveling over time. Telomeres serve a similar function by protecting the DNA during cell division.

Given that many cells are dividing in our bodies all the time, that is an important job. It ensures that the cells replicate exactly without losing any of the necessary information they contain. Telomeres:

  • Allow your cells to divide without losing genes
  • Are key for growing new skin, blood, bone, and other cells
  • Prevent your chromosome ends from fusing together, which could corrupt a cell’s genetic blueprint, possibly causing malfunction, cancer, or cell death.

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6 Lifestyle Choives For Telomere Health

With each cell division, the telomeres become shorter. It happens over time, but the changes that we associate with aging coincide with telomere shortening. Short telomeres in skin cells occur when we are seeing wrinkles. Short telomeres in hair pigment cells are found when the hair begins to turn white. In the immune system, telomeres are shorter when we are sick with chronic disease.

Shorter telomeres are related to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and some forms of cancer. It turns out that shorter telomeres may not cause disease, but inadequate lifestyle choices can lead to both cancer and shortened telomeres.


So how do we remain healthy and slow telomere shortening? All those things you have always heard about a healthy lifestyle - it turns out they’re true!

1. Exercise Regularly

Adequate amounts of even moderate exercise have been shown to slow the wearing down of telomeres.

Studies show that people who are sedentary have shorter telomeres while elite athletes and master athletes (those who are older than 35-40) have longer telomeres when compared to others of their age group.

Interestingly, a person who is active in multiple exercise categories has longer telomeres than those who focus solely on one activity. Keep your exercise regime fun and change it up throughout the week!

2. Sleep Well

Getting both enough sleep and quality sleep allows for healthy cell regeneration. This will help to slow the shortening of the telomeres and leave you feeling young and healthy for longer.

3. Have a Good Attitude and Minimize Stress

Maintain a positive attitude throughout your day to help your body function at its best. Chronic psychological stress causes cortisol dysregulation and increases your risk of age-related disease, including cardiovascular and some cancers.

4. Choose Healthy Foods

There is proof that diets high in whole, unprocessed foods with a focus on healthy fats, fresh fruits and vegetables and lower amounts of red meats (such as the Mediterranean diet) will slow the shortening of the telomeres.

A diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates has the opposite effect on the telomeres. A significant contributor to a high sugar diet is sodas. Begin to improve your diet by substituting one soda per day with water and increase it every few days until you have eliminated the soda completely.

5. Quit Smoking

The telomeres of smokers are found to be significantly shorter than those of non-smokers.

6. Drink Alcohol in Moderation

While one glass of red wine a day is found to be healthy, telomere length was negatively affected by increased alcohol consumption.


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