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Want an Anti-Aging Formula? Discover Your Telomeres

By Sandy Schroeder

No one gets to stay young forever, but we may stay younger longer if we treat our cells and chromosomes better.

There is extra DNA at the end of each chromosome that’s known as a telomere. Scientists say the longer your telomeres, the better off you are. Telomeres help cells divide, but each time they fray they increase aging and risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

If we want to stay younger, we have to protect our telomeres, according to Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, president of Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry, UC San Francisco.

Here are their four tips to keep telomeres healthier, and you younger.

Feed Your DNA the Right Stuff – Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that help protect telomeres. Sugar and processed red meat have the opposite toxic effect on telomeres. Eat a healthy diet of organic fruits and vegetables, plus fish and lean meats.

Dodge Stress. Think Positive – Anger, negativity and hostility are very hard on telomeres. If you are constantly lashing out, you are flooding your body with destructive stress hormones. When you are tempted to wade into a battle, consider what you are doing and step back. Go running, take long walks, try gardening, or deep breathing. Some people find music or humor lighten the load. Others turn to art and journaling, or volunteering. Yoga, tai-chi and meditation are proven stress-releasers. Do whatever it takes to put stress on the back-burner.

Outrun Aging with Exercise – Choose an activity that you enjoy and your doctor approves. Then be out there every day running, walking or biking -- or whatever. In the process, you will help your telomeres by defeating body inflammation and stress.  Experts say regular sessions of aerobic exercise can double the amount of telomerase, an enzyme that mends frayed telomeres. But they caution weekend warriors, overloaded workouts can harm telomeres.

Travel to Learn and Grow – To help your telomeres, take vacations to refresh your body and your mind. You might try a yoga or meditation vacation, or spend time developing new hobbies. I have a couple of friends who used vacations to help build homes for people in need. Whatever fits, make it a vacation that you find rewarding.

Every time you are tempted to stop for a burger, think of those telomeres valiantly struggling to keep you young. Give them a hand as you swing by a farmers market instead.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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