Aging, Telomers, Telomerase: Why You Age and How to Reverse Aging

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Stress can cause poor health and make you look exhausted and haggard. Stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, poor immune function, premature aging, high blood pressure, obesity and even diabetes. Exactly how stress brings about the early onset of age-related disease is not entirely clear. Many believe that stress increases the rate of aging within the cells themselves.

Cellular Aging

Cellular aging is associated with oxidative stress, lowered telomerase activity, and shorter telomere lengths. These factors affect the longevity of your body’s cells.

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Telomeres are the caps or ends of chromosomes which provide protection and help give stability to the chromosomes. Telomeres are composed of terminal sequences of TTAGGG DNA base units at the ends of all chromosomes that signify the end of chromosomal information. At conception there are approximately 2,500 TTAGGG sequences as “end caps” to chromosomal data.

Telomers are a target of oxidative damage and become damaged and shortened due to the action of free radicals.

Psychological stress itself seems to accelerate the shortening of telomeres. In one study 58 mothers were studied. 19 of the mothers had a healthy child while 39 mothers cared for a chronically ill child. The research found that (adjusted for the age of the mother) the more years of caregiving, the shorter the mother’s telemores, the lower the telomerase activity and the more oxidative stress the mothers experienced.

In addition, when adult cells undergo mitosis or cell division these telomere “end caps” are not completely replicated and are shortened by about 100 base units (around 15 TTAGGG sequences) with each cell division.

Telomere shortening is a normal condition that occurs when an adult cell divides. It is thought that there is a limit to the number of times a cell can divide (called the Hayflick limit which is between 50 to 70 cell divisions). When this limit is reached a telomeric crisis stage is reached and the cells no longer divide and approach senescence (deterioration with age).

Studies indicate that chronic emotional stress and frequent viral infections seem to accelerate telomere loss and cause premature aging.

This shortening of the telomeres is considered a risk factor for the onset and progression of many different conditions such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, a number of cancers, fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, a lowered immune system allowing infections, and overall mortality.

Telomerase

The cellular enzyme telomerase has a protective function on telomeres and can even synthesizes new DNA telomere repeats at the end of chromosomes to lengthen telomeres. Telomerase is active during rapid fetal development. But, before birth telomerase is repressed for most cells and further cell division results in telomere shortening and, thus, aging.

Telomerase is still active in some adult cells like the testes, activated lymphocytes and stem cells. Nearly 90% of human cancers including leukemia show telomerase activity which helps prevent cell death.

While it is somewhat controversial, some researchers think that telomerase activation may actually help cause some cancers. Other researchers disagree.

The Science of Cells That Never Get Old | Elizabeth Blackburn

What makes our bodies age? Why does our skin wrinkle, our hair turn white, our immune systems weaken? Biologist Elizabeth Blackburn shared a Nobel Prize for her work finding out the answer, with the discovery of telomerase: an enzyme that replenishes the caps at the end of chromosomes, which break down when cells divide. Learn more about Blackburn’s groundbreaking research — including how we might have more control over aging than we think.

Telomerase Activation

A number of studies have been conducted to investigate increasing or activating telomerase.

In a study of lifestyle choices, 30 men with low-risk prostate cancer participated. The lifestyle changes consisted dietary changes and moderate exercise with stress management. The diet was low in fat (with 10% of calories from fat) mostly of whole plant-based vegetables and fruits, with unrefined grains, legumes, minimal refined carbohydrates with soy and tofu, fish oil, vitamins C and E and selenium. Exercise included 30 minutes of walking per day. Stress management included a hour per day of meditation, stretching, breathing, imagery and progressive relaxation.

The results after 3 months showed an increase of telomerase from 8.05 to 10.38 standard raw units. In addition, there was a decrease in LDL cholesterol and a decrease in psychological distress.

Several studies have investigated a molecular component of Astragalus, a Chinese plant used in traditional medicine. This compound named TA-65 is a proprietary extract of the dried root of Astragalus membranaceus. It is formulated for humans in 5- to 10-mg capsules.

Several studies of TA-65 have been conducted with mice. Some interesting findings about TA-65 administered mice (compared to controls) include:

  • There was a significant decrease in short telomeres indicating TA-65 promotes short telomere rescue.
  • Glucose intolerance and insulin resistance (which normally increase with age) were significantly improved.
  • Wound healing improved.
  • Hair regrowth (after plucking) improved.
  • Organ fitness improved.
  • Bone density improved.

These results indicate a good potential for beneficial use of TA-65 in humans.

In one human study subject were evaluated after 3, 6, 9, and 12 months on TA-65 supplementation. The number of subjects who were tested over the course of the trial varied from 43, 59, 27, and 37. The starting dose was from 5-10 mg per day. But, during the course of the trial some subjects increased their does to 25-50 mg per day.

The results showed no statistically decline in telomere length. But, in most subjects there was a decline in the percentage of short telomeres, again showing short temomere rescue benefits. Senescent cytotoxic T cells (killer T cells responsible for killing infected cells) declined linearly from 39% to 30% indicating an age reversal with a higher percentage of viable cells in a dose-responsive manner.

These results show promise for TA-65 in helping slow the aging process in humans.

Results You Can Use

While research is attempting to find the “miracle pill” that will extend life, such pills are hard to come by. While TA-65 may help humans to slow aging and retain health, it is an expensive solution. Costs for TA-65 are around $100 for 30 capsules.

Lifestyle changes (at least changes from what is typical) can also affect your healthy lifespan. And, everyone can eat a more healthy diet, exercise, and reduce their daily stress. This is the simple solution for everyone concerned about their health.

References

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