Did you know that unless you do something about it, you’ll lose a third of your heart muscle as you age?1
Your heart muscle cells are very high-energy and burn a lot of metabolic fuel. After they burn the fuel, like with anything that produces energy, there’s some waste left over. In your heart, that metabolic waste includes free radicals.
Why is that important? Telomeres are very sensitive to free radical attacks, or oxidative stress. Both shorten your telomeres and makes heart cells older and weaker … and more prone to disease.2
Let me show you what I’m talking about. It’s from the slideshow I presented to guests at my State of the Art Anti-Aging Seminar.
But I want to go a bit deeper for you than I did in my lecture, because it could save your heart. In fact, in a minute I’m going to give you a powerful way to offset the danger of shortened heart muscle telomeres…
This image from my presentation will show you what I found. It’s what I’ve long suspected. Your heart cells are particularly sensitive to telomere shortening. And short telomeres could lead to a heart attack. Here’s the slide I put on screen for the seminar attendees:
Shorter telomeres mean higher risk of heart attack (The blue line represents the average telomere length measured in kilobases of people who did not have a heart attack (M/I). The red line shows the much shorter telomere length of the people who did have a heart attack).
For this study, researchers looked at almost 15,000 initially healthy men and followed them for about 4 years. Then they looked at the telomeres of 337 people who had a heart attack (myocardial infarction, or MI) and compared them with 337 matched people who did not.
As you can see in the slide, the average telomere length of those who had a heart attack was significantly shorter than that of the people who had no heart incidents.3
Overall, for those who have shorter telomeres, the risk of heart attack went up by 62%.
A batch of other studies confirms this as well…
Researchers investigated the first long-term connection between telomeres and heart health over the span of two decades. The team of doctors at a research hospital in Denmark followed almost 20,000 people for 19 years. The people with short telomeres had a 50% increased risk of heart attack.
Another study found an alarming increase in heart attack risk. People with the shortest telomeres had an increased risk between 280% and 320%!4
Aside from heart attack, your risk of heart disease goes up too. In a study published in the prestigious journal The Lancet, researchers found an association between short telomeres and atherosclerosis.5 The people with short telomeres had accelerated aging of their blood vessels and had a buildup of plaque that correlated to someone 8.6 years older.
This increased risk extends into your heart muscle cells. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers discovered that people with heart failure had telomeres in their heart cells that were 40% shorter than normal.6
But there is good news. Omega-3s offset free radical attacks and protect telomeres.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at patients from the Heart and Soul study and followed them for 5 years. Those with the lowest levels of omega-3 fatty acids had the fastest telomere shortening. Those with the highest omega-3 levels had the slowest telomere shortening.7
Omega-3 fatty acids are the good fats that your body can’t make, so you have to get them from food. There are both plant and animal sources of omega-3, and each one gives you a different kind of omega-3.
- Plant-based omega-3s are mainly alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Your body breaks this down into the two types of omega-3 you need to keep your telomeres longer, EPA and DHA.
- Animal-based omega-3s have some ALA, but mostly contain EPA and DHA.
It’s important to remember that the ability to convert ALA from plants into EPA and DHA can vary from person to person. So getting an animal source is essential.
Animal sources of omega-3 are wild, cold-water, high-fat fish like pollock, salmon, lake trout and herring.
Some people don’t like fish, and if you’re one of them, try a quality fish oil that is highly absorbable, and will not turn rancid. These are the ones where the omega-3 is in “phospholipid” form. This form is worth the little extra you’ll pay for it. It’s why I use krill and calamari oil. They’re in the absorbable phospholipid form and they have the added benefit of much more DHA than other fish sources.
For your plant sources of omega-3, eat plenty of raw nuts and seeds. Walnuts, Brazil nuts, sacha inchi oil, almonds and pumpkin seeds are some of my omega-3-rich favorites.
You should try to get 3 grams of omega-3’s every day. Also, avoid taking in too many omega-6 fatty acids. This causes inflammation, which shortens telomeres. So stay away from farm-fed fish and processed meats. These man-made creations have unhealthy amounts of omega-6.
1. Papp Z, Czuriga D, Balogh L, Balogh Á, Borbély A. “How Cardiomyocytes Make The Heart Old.” Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2012;13(13):2515-21. 2. Terai M, Izumiyama-Shimomura N, et. al. “Association of Telomere Shortening in Myocardium With Heart Weight Gain and Cause of Death.” Sci Rep. 2013;3:2401. 3. Zee R, Michaud S, Germer S, Ridker P. “Association of Shorter Mean Telomere Length With Risk of Incident Myocardial Infarction: A Prospective, Nested Case-Control Approach.” Clin Chim Acta. 2009;403(1-2):139-41. 4. Brouilette S, et. al. “White Cell Telomere Length and Risk of Premature Myocardial Infarction.” Aterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2003;23(5):842-6. 5. Samani N, et al. “Telomere Shortening in Atherosclerosis.” Lancet. 2001 Aug 11;358(9280):472-3. 6. van der Harst P, et. al. “Telomere Length of Circulating Leukocytes is Decreased in Patients With Chronic Heart Failure.” J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007; 49(13):1459-64. 7. Farzaneh-Far R, et. al. “Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease.” JAMA. 2010; 303(3): 250.