Health and Wellness: What are Telomeres?

Size Does Matter…when it comes to life longevity.  All the buzz going on around age reversal and renewed sexual vigor suggests that the way to create youthful beauty and health is from a pill that you purchase on the internet. However, a big subject that has been coming up is the topic of Telomeres. What are Telomeres? Telomeres are specialized sequences of DNA that are located at the ends of a chromosome in each cell that serve as a buffer to protect the chromosome’s genetic information when a cell divides. For a visual on this, picture the small plastic that is on the ends our shoe laces. Every time a cell divides the telomeres become sorter, and the cell experiences old age and eventually death.

When the cell divides and the chromosomes are (known as replication), the copying only reads to a certain point along the DNA and this is where the telomeres come in. The Telomere is a buffer of additional code that appears AFTER the vital information of the chromosome. What this means, is when the copying stops, it stops in the telomeres, where an incomplete copy is harmless, rather than in the DNA itself. Telomeres take the brunt of the trauma, ensuring our genes are copied completely, and cell information remains whole and intact. If this mechanism did not exist and copying stopped in the middle of an important instruction such as the immune system, the incomplete copy would be show as a genetic defect and could lead to disease. This is why the length of telomeres matters.

At the time of our birth, the average telomere length is about 8,000 and 13,000 units (called base-pairs). As we get older, they predictably become shorter. By age of 35 the average persons telomeres are reduced by 29%; 3000 units! At age 65, that number drops 50%. This is a typical length, and also describes what happens if we do nothing to support our telomere health. Wellness depends on life choices in each moment around diet, exercise, sleep and the use of drugs and alcohol, and the factors of emotional stress that can stem from issues of self-esteem and self-worth.

In 2009, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three scientists: Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Carol W. Greider from the University Berkeley, and Jack W. Szostak from Harvard Medical School. Their award was for the 1984 discovery of an enzyme that is directly linked to the telomeres in our bodies; specifically repairing rejuvenating and lengthening the telomeres, called Telomerase. This discovery of the special DNA sequence in the telomeres protects the chromosomes from degradation. If telomerase activity is high, telomere length is maintained and cellular decay is delayed, which is the sole purpose of the telomerase enzyme. 

A 2010 paper was published in the journal Nature that left no doubt in scientist’s minds. “Telomerase Reversed the Aging Process” describing the testing on mice first.

One of the amazing things about this study is that when the mice were treated in a way that caused them to grow up without telomerase in their bodies they aged, developing the same conditions human aging has, like diabetes, osteoporosis and neurological conditions. Mice were then specially treated to have their telomerase enzymes reactivated when they reached adulthood. After one month the evaluation results were described as “a near Ponce de Leon effect” which refers to the Spanish explorer’s quest for the fountain of youth. The age-related conditions were halted and reversed!

“Other organs such as the spleen, liver and intestines recuperated from their degenerated state. The one month pulse of telomerase also reversed effects of aging in the brain”.  This study has now been replicated many, many times in humans.  Telomere length is now a biological marker for how long a human can be expected to live. The longer telomeres are found in people with longer life spans. Telomerase is the enzyme that builds and regenerates lengthening the telomeres. By activating the body’s telomerase, this stops further destruction and repairs the telomeres that are already damaged. We can now influence and intentionally change that marker in positive ways.

With that said, let’s be clear, this does not mean you can do this while damaging your DNA by indulging in a life of excess that include the chronic use of alcohol, recreational drugs and have a diet high in refined carbs, trans fats, sugar and fried foods.

Reduce your stress, get regular exercise and take specific supplements are key strategies to successfully slow and reverse telomere damage and cellular aging.

Thanks for reading. Take responsibility of YOU! Questions and comments to

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