Molecular biologist Bill Andrews, Ph.D., pioneering researcher in the field of telomeres and healthy aging, took to the stage at our 2014 “Strength in Momentum” Celebration. There he shared the science of telomeres and talked about what he’s learned about healthy aging.

What Are Telomeres?

Telomeres are the protective caps at the end of our cell’s chromosomes. They protect our DNA from damage like the caps on shoelaces protect the laces from becoming unraveled.

As we age, our cells are constantly dividing and our telomeres shorten during the process.

What Happens When Telomeres Shorten?

As cells divide over time and our telomeres shorten, eventually cell division stops. In short, said Dr. Andrews, “bad things happen when telomeres get short.” He went on to explain that many of the conditions we see in old age are associated with short telomeres.

Can You Avoid Accelerated Shortening of Your Telomeres?

Yes, you can. There are a few things that can accelerate the shortening of your telomeres. Avoiding all of the following can help protect against accelerated telomere shortening, says Dr. Andrews:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Pessimism

What More Can You Do to Slow Down Telomere Shortening?

Many of the things we already associated with a healthy lifestyle can also work to slow down telomere shortening, Dr. Andrews shared. Here is his list of tips for healthy aging:

  • Exercise
  • Antioxidants
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin D3
  • Don’t smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce pessimism; be happy!

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