Within each of your cells there are pieces of DNA that determine how quickly you age. These end caps on your chromosomes, called telomeres, were long thought to be junk-DNA since they did not code for any genes like the rest of the chromosomal DNA. But in 2009, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to three scientists who uncovered the role that telomeres play in aging and disease. We now know that telomeres are essentially the biological clocks within the cell determining how quickly your cells are aging. The shorter your telomeres, the older your cells and therefore your body behaves. The length of your telomeres is also closely associated with your risk of developing chronic diseases, like heart disease, arthritis and cancer. The good news is that your telomere length is not static; you can change it based on how you live your life.
A fascinating study was done in 2011 by Dr. Ronald DePinho, a professor at Harvard Medical School, which seemed to reverse aging. He took a group of mice that were bred to be deficient in the enzyme necessary to maintain telomere length. They prematurely became old by every measurable feature. Their hair changed from glossy and youthful to dull and grey. They performed poorly on memory tests like navigating a maze or remembering where food and water was placed. Their brains shrunk, they lost desire for sexual activity and were infertile. They were the equivalent of an 80 or 90 year old human.
Activating the enzyme telomerase caused all of those signs of aging to reverse. The mice became fertile and produced healthy offspring. Their shrunken brains and organs grew back to normal size and structure. Their hair became shiny and thick again and they went on to live long, healthy lives. It was like they had bathed in the fountain of youth.
Telomerase builds and maintains your telomeres. In adult cells telomerase is primarily switched off but there are ways to turn it back on and make your telomeres longer. As a rule, telomeres shorten as we age. Excessive stress and cigarette smoking accelerate telomere shortening. Numerous studies have documented that healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the rate of telomere shortening. But lengthening your telomeres is what restores the characteristics of youth. Studies have suggested that vigorous exercise, optimal hormone balance, and specific nutritional supplements can activate the telomerase enzyme and lengthen telomeres. This age-reversing therapy has been used by my patients over the last several years with astounding results. They have given me their permission to reveal their results here.
Telomere length is measured in kilobases (Kb) and is assessed by a simple blood test. How do health and telomere length correlate? Two examples are Lucy and Craig. Lucy’s telomere length was 5.28Kb in 2010, which was very short and consistent with a biological age more than a decade older than she was chronologically. It has increased each year while on our program and now stands at 6.49Kb; an astonishing 23% increase! Although only in his mid-50’s, Craig’s health was similarly precarious when he started. His telomeres have increased even more; 30% in two years. The improvements in his health parameters have also translated into a $16,000 reduction in his life insurance premium! They both have realized remarkable improvements in their health, energy, mood, appearance, body composition, libido, performance and outlook on life. But they are not unique. They merely demonstrate what properly managing the aging process can do for you. Don’t you want to get younger every year, too?