Keeping your telomeres as long as possible is the key to remaining biologically young.
And that brings me to the top level of the Primal nutrition pyramid we’ve been talking about for the past couple weeks — Telo Nutrition.
I began developing this new level in 1990 after reading something that would change the way I practice medicine…
It was an article in the journal Nature about a new technology that would push forward the ability to slow aging extending the amount of years they get on this planet.
I remember sitting at my desk and I wrote the word “telomere” on a piece of paper.
Underneath I added, “This will change the world as we know it.”
As a regular reader, you know the importance that I place on telomeres. These are the tiny protective caps at the end of each strand of DNA that control aging.
And like a candle burning at both ends, telomeres get shorter every time a cell uses up energy and divides. When your telomeres finally run out, cell division stops and life comes to an end.
In a study published in the Lancet, researchers looked at a large group of people age 60 and older. They found that those with shorter telomeres had an 800% higher risk of dying earlier than those with longer telomeres.1
It’s all about using nutrition to slow down cellular aging. And the good news is, you can do this by maintaining your telomere length.
Here’s how it works.
Short telomeres create cells that are older, weaker and less able to fight disease, illness, and the threats you experience from your environment.
That means as you get older, you start to look and act more and more like an “old person.” You develop back pain, you don’t have the energy you used to… your skin wrinkles, your eyesight diminishes and you appear older and more distant to your family.
On the surface, it seems “natural.”
But the key here is realizing that the accelerated loss of your telomeres creates an “older” version of yourself.
That puts you in control. Because you can reverse the process so you can be younger, happier, and more energetic.
You just have to maintain the health of your telomeres.
Today, we know how to do this. In fact, here’s what you can do today to gain Telo-Nutrition.
Lengthen Your Telomeres to Slow Cellular Aging
Here at the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine, I help my patients activate telomerase with a variety of nutrients. Here are the steps you can take:
- Use a potent amino acid called N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC). It helps strengthen and rebuild one of your body’s strongest protectors — a primary antioxidant called glutathione.
Low glutathione is associated with shorter telomeres. And NAC protects telomeres from oxidative damage.2
That alone would be enough of a benefit. But more importantly, NAC also elevates telomerase, the enzyme that repairs telomeres.3
I recommend starting out with 50 mg of NAC a day to get the telomere health benefits. And then building up to 500 mg or more. In fact, I believe in the telomerase-activating power of NAC so strongly, that I added it to my newest supplement.
- Boost your folic acid. Folate or folic acid is one of the B vitamins. Studies show men with the highest folic acid levels have longer telomeres than those with low folate.
Folate works by counteracting the effects of the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine in your blood can triple the speed at which your telomeres shorten.
I recommend getting 800 mcg of folic acid every day for your telomeres. Grass-fed calf’s liver is your best choice. But since it’s hard to get what we need from food today, I recommend supplementing.
- Get more omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fatty acids activate telomerase and lead to longer telomeres. One study found that people with the lowest levels of omega-3 fats had the fastest telomere shortening over a five-year period. Those with the highest levels had the slowest shortening.4
The best animal sources of omega-3s are wild, cold-water fish like pollock, salmon, tuna, lake trout and herring. Good plant sources are walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds.
But it’s hard to get enough omega-3s from your diet. You’ll want to supplement. Try to get 3 grams of omega-3s every day. I recommend krill oil and calamari oil to my patients.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Cawthon RM, et al. “Association between telomere length in blood and mortality in people aged 60 years or older.” Lancet. 2003;361(9355):393-395.
2. Jagger C, et al. “The effect of dementia trends and treatments on longevity and disability: A simulation model based on the MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC CFAS).” Age Ageing. 2009;38(3):319-325.
4. 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):250-257.