The title of this post may bring to mind some of those “HAS SCIENCE GONE TOO FAR?!?!” ads. But I assure you, I am not talking about some magical quick fix or some bullshit placebo pill or powder that will solve all your problems magically.
I am talking about a principle backed 100% by Nobel Prize-winning scientists and countless pages of research. This principle is the extension of your telomeres (pronounced TEE-LO-MEER). Now, what exactly does this mean?
To unwrap that question, I will begin by defining what a telomere is in layman’s words. You are likely aware that our genetic makeup is due to our chromosomes. Our genes are stored within 23 pairs of chromosomes, 46 total chromosomes. On the edges of these chromosomes are the telomeres. Their purpose- imagine the little plastic nub on the end of shoelaces (the aglet). It is there so that your laces don’t rapidly fray and fall apart into nothingness (if you haven’t witnessed this phenomenon, pull an aglet off and see how long the lace survives). The telomere is the aglet of your chromosomes, keeping your genetic code intact.
Over time, your telomeres generally wear down, which contributes to the aging process. This is a one-way street, right? Wrong, recent research has indicated that there are many controllable factors that can lead to telomere elongation, telomere degradation, or telomere maintenance.
I’m assuming that you are interested in the elongation aspect of this research so we will dive right into five ways you can extend those telomeres, as presented in the book “The Telomere Effect” by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel.
- When you are faced with stress see it as a challenge rather than a threat. Telomere shortening has been seen in those who view every stressor as a personal threat to them. The best way to flip the script and do the opposite for your genetic aglets is to take on those stressors as a challenge that will help you grow and succeed. Try it! Next time you catch yourself feeling that anxiety and wanting to back down from the challenge of a stressor, face it head on and literally tell yourself some variation of “Bring it on Baby! I’m gonna crush this!”.
- Replace those nasty negative thinking patterns with some resilient thinking. This does not mean attempting to suppress any thought that is negative or gloomy. Thought suppression has been proven to not work due to the ironic effect (example: don’t you dare think of the statue of liberty! I know you damn well did, right away!) so don’t try it, let thoughts pass through and follow them up with positive thoughts and affirmations. The best way to really get this grasp on your mind; use daily mindfulness practices such as centering breaths followed by affirmations.
- Cut down on (or completely eliminate) processed foods and refined sugars. I know from first-hand experience that this is a pretty difficult one to get started on. Those processed foods are so damn convenient and generally pretty tasty. The problem with them is their overall effect on your metabolism and cravings. Refined sugars essentially trick your body into thinking you are starved for food and make you crave more and more food. Knock these out of the diet as much as possible and you will see huge metabolic differences that will lead to improved health overall, and healthier telomeres.
- Hand in hand with the last example, it is important to move consistently and stay fit! Not only will exercise allow you to have an overall higher level of fitness, but it also helps with the stress response, thus helping to eliminate stress-related telomere shortening.
- Lastly, but 100% not least; get your sleep. Most individuals need 7+ hours of sleep to fully allow the mind to recover from the tasks of the day as well as the body’s much-needed maintenance. Schedule your sleep and stick to it, you will be much healthier, happier, and more productive.
There you have it, 5 very practical solutions as to how you can elongate those telomeres and delay the onset of poor health related to aging!
Huge thank you to the sources of this information, first and foremost, the book cited earlier- “The Telomere Effect” by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel. Next, to Brian Johnson of Optimize who provided an in-depth summary of the book, helping with the condensation of the information. If you have not checked out Optimize and are someone who loves learning and developing; go get it now and thank me later.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns please leave a comment below or email us at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org