20 January 2014

Diet for telomeres – the secret of longevity and health

The XXI century was marked by the advent of a new era in the field of dietetics, which demonstrated the enormous benefits that the correct selection of a diet can bring to human health. From this point of view, the search for the secret of "pills for old age" no longer looks like an impossible dream. Recent discoveries of scientists indicate that a certain way selected nutrition can, at least partially, change the course of the biological clock of the body and slow down its aging. In this article, the current information obtained by scientists specializing in the field of nutrition is analyzed in the context of improving the state of telomeres, which is a key mechanism for slowing down aging in the literal sense of the word.

Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences localized at the ends of chromosomes. With each cell division, telomeres are shortened, which ultimately leads to the loss of the cell's ability to divide. As a result, the cell enters a phase of physiological aging, leading to its death. The accumulation of such cells in the body increases the risk of developing diseases. In 1962, Leonard Hayflick revolutionized biology by developing a theory known as the Hayflick limit theory. According to this theory, the maximum potential life expectancy of a person is 120 years. According to theoretical calculations, it is by this age that there are too many cells in the body that are unable to divide and maintain its vital activity. Fifty years later, a new direction of gene science appeared, which opened up prospects for optimizing a person's genetic potential.

Various stress factors contribute to premature shortening of telomeres, which, in turn, accelerates the biological aging of cells. Many age-related changes in the body that are harmful to health are associated with shortening of telomeres. The existence of a relationship between telomere shortening and heart disease, obesity, diabetes mellitus and cartilage degeneration has been proven. Shortening of telomeres reduces the efficiency of the functioning of genes, which entails a triad of problems: inflammation, oxidative stress and a decrease in the activity of immune cells. All this accelerates the aging process and increases the risk of age-related diseases.

Another important aspect is the quality of telomeres. For example, patients with Alzheimer's disease do not always have short telomeres. At the same time, their telomeres always show pronounced signs of functional disorders, the correction of which is facilitated by vitamin E. In a certain sense, telomeres are the "weak link" of DNA. They are easily damaged and need to be repaired, but do not have powerful repair mechanisms used by other regions of DNA. This leads to the accumulation of partially damaged and poorly functioning telomeres, the poor quality of which does not depend on their length.

One of the approaches to slowing down the aging process is the use of strategies that slow down the process of shortening telomeres, simultaneously protecting them and eliminating the resulting damage. Recently, specialists have been receiving more and more data, according to which this can be achieved by choosing the right diet.

Another attractive prospect is the possibility of lengthening telomeres while maintaining their quality, which will literally turn the hands of the biological clock back. This can be achieved by activating the telomerase enzyme, which is able to restore the lost fragments of telomeres.

Basic nutrition for telomeresThe activity of genes shows a certain flexibility, and nutrition is an excellent mechanism for compensating for genetic deficiencies.

Many genetic systems are laid down during the first weeks of intrauterine development and are formed at an early age. After that, they are influenced by a wide range of factors, including food. This influence can be called "epigenetic settings" that determine how genes manifest their inherent functions.

Telomere length is also regulated epigenetically. This means that it is influenced by the diet. Malnourished mothers transmit defective telomeres to their children, which increases the risk of developing heart disease in the future (a large number of short telomeres are characteristic of cells affected by atherosclerosis of the arteries). On the contrary, proper nutrition of the mother contributes to the formation of telomeres of optimal length and quality in children.

Adequate methylation of telomeres is necessary for the full functioning of telomeres. (Methylation is a chemical process involving the addition of a methyl group (-CH3) to the nucleic base of DNA.) The main donor of methyl groups in human cells is the coenzyme S-adenosylmethionine, for the synthesis of which the body uses methionine, methylsulfonylmethane, choline and betaine. For the normal course of the synthesis of this coenzyme, the presence of vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin B6 is necessary. Folic acid and vitamin B12 are simultaneously involved in many mechanisms that ensure the stability of telomeres.

The most important dietary supplements for maintaining telomeres are high-quality vitamin complexes taken against the background of a diet containing an adequate amount of proteins, especially sulfur-containing ones. Such a diet should include dairy products, eggs, meat, chicken, legumes, nuts and grains. Eggs are the richest source of choline.

To maintain a good mood, the brain also requires a large number of methyl donors. Chronic stress and depression often indicate a shortage of methyl donors, which means a poor condition of telomeres and their susceptibility to premature shortening. This is the main reason that stress ages a person.

The results of a study involving 586 women showed that the telomeres of participants who regularly took multivitamins were 5% longer than the telomeres of women who did not take vitamins. In men, the highest levels of folic acid corresponded to longer telomeres. Another study involving people of both sexes also revealed a positive relationship between the content of folic acid in the body and the length of telomeres.

The more stress you experience and/or the worse you feel emotionally or mentally, the more attention you should pay to getting enough basic nutrients that will help not only your brain, but also your telomeres.

Minerals and antioxidants contribute to maintaining the stability of the genome and telomeresNutrition is an excellent mechanism for slowing down the wear and tear of the body.

Many nutrients protect chromosomes, including telomerase DNA, and increase the efficiency of mechanisms for repairing its damage. The lack of antioxidants leads to an increase in the amount of damage caused by free radicals and an increased risk of telomere degradation. For example, the telomeres of patients with Parkinson's disease are shorter than the telomeres of healthy people of the same age. At the same time, the degree of telomere degradation directly depends on the severity of free radical damage associated with the disease. It has also been shown that women who consume few antioxidants with food have short telomeres and are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Magnesium is necessary for the functioning of many enzymes involved in copying and repairing DNA damage. One of the animal studies showed that magnesium deficiency is associated with an increase in the severity of free radical damage and shortening of telomeres. Experiments on human cells have demonstrated that the absence of magnesium leads to rapid degradation of telomeres and suppresses cell division. Depending on the intensity of the load and the level of stress, the human body should receive 400-800 mg of magnesium per day.

Zinc plays an important role in the functioning and repair of DNA. The lack of zinc leads to the appearance of a large number of breaks in DNA chains. In older people, zinc deficiency is associated with short telomeres. The minimum amount of zinc a person should receive per day is 15 mg, and the optimal dosages are about 50 mg per day for women and 75 mg for men. Data have been obtained according to which the new zinc-containing antioxidant carnosine reduces the rate of telomere shortening in skin fibroblasts, while slowing their aging. Carnosine is also an important antioxidant for the brain, which makes it a good helper in the fight against stress. Many antioxidants contribute to the protection and repair of DNA. For example, vitamin C has been found to slow down the shortening of telomeres in human vascular endothelial cells.

It is impressive that one of the forms of vitamin E, known as tocotrienol, is able to restore the length of short telomeres in human fibroblasts. There is also evidence of the ability of vitamin C to stimulate the activity of the telomere-lengthening enzyme telomerase. These data suggest that the consumption of certain foods contributes to the restoration of telomere length, which is potentially the key to reversing the aging process.

DNA is under continuous attack by free radicals. In healthy, well-nourished people, the antioxidant defense system partially prevents and restores DNA damage, which contributes to the preservation of its functions.

As a person ages, his health gradually deteriorates, the accumulation of damaged molecules occurs in the cells, triggering the processes of free radical oxidation and preventing the restoration of DNA damage, including telomeres. This process, which increases according to the "snowball" principle, can be aggravated by conditions such as obesity.

Inflammation and infections contribute to telomere degradationAt the current level of understanding of the biology of telomeres, the most realistic prospect is the development of methods to slow down the process of their shortening.

Perhaps, over time, a person will be able to reach his Hayflick limit. This is possible only if we learn to prevent the wear of the body. Severe stress and infections are two examples of the causes of such wear and tear leading to telomere shortening. Both effects have a pronounced inflammatory component that stimulates the production of free radicals and causes damage to cells, including telomeres.

Under conditions of severe inflammatory stress, cell death stimulates their active division, which, in turn, accelerates the degradation of telomeres. In addition, free radicals formed during inflammatory reactions also damage telomeres. Thus, we must make maximum efforts to suppress both acute and chronic inflammatory processes and prevent infectious diseases.

However, the complete exclusion of stress and inflammatory reactions from life is an impossible task. Therefore, a good idea for injuries and infectious diseases is to add vitamin D and docosahexaenoic acid (omega-3 fatty acid) to the diet, which can support telomeres in conditions of inflammation.

Vitamin D modulates the amount of heat generated by the immune system in response to inflammation. With vitamin D deficiency, there is a danger of overheating of the body, the synthesis of a huge amount of free radicals and damage to telomeres. The ability to tolerate stress, including infectious diseases, largely depends on the level of vitamin D in the body. In a study involving 2,100 female twins aged 19-79 years, scientists demonstrated that the highest levels of vitamin D are associated with the longest telomeres, and vice versa. The difference in telomere length at the highest and lowest vitamin D levels corresponded to about 5 years of life. Another study showed that the use of 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day by overweight adults stimulates telomerase activity and helps restore telomere length, despite metabolic stress.

Suppressing inflammatory processes naturally by correcting the diet is the key to preserving telomeres. Omega-3 fatty acids – docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic - can play an important role in this. Observation of a group of patients with diseases of the cardiovascular system for 5 years showed that the longest telomeres were in patients who consumed more of these fatty acids, and vice versa. In another study, it was found that an increase in the level of docosahexaenoic acid in the body of patients with moderate cognitive impairment reduced the rate of shortening of their telomeres.

There are a very large number of dietary supplements that suppress the activity of the inflammatory signaling mechanism mediated by the nuclear factor kappa-bi (NF-kappaB). The positive effect of natural compounds such as quercetin, green tea catechins, grape seed extract, curcumin and resveratrol on the state of chromosomes exerted by triggering this anti-inflammatory mechanism has been experimentally proven. Compounds with this property are also found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

One of the most actively studied natural antioxidants is curcumin, which gives a bright yellow color to curry seasoning. Different groups of researchers are studying its ability to stimulate the repair of DNA damage, especially epigenetic disorders, as well as to prevent the development of cancer and increase the effectiveness of its treatment.
Another promising natural compound is resveratrol. The results of animal studies indicate that limiting the caloric content of the diet while maintaining its nutritional value preserves telomeres and increases life expectancy by activating the sirtuin 1 gene (sirt1) and increasing the synthesis of sirtuin-1 protein. The function of this protein is to "tune" the body's systems to work in "economy mode", which is very it is important for the survival of the species in conditions of lack of nutrients. Resveratrol directly activates the sirt1 gene, which has a positive effect on the state of telomeres, especially in the absence of overeating.

To date, it is obvious that short telomeres are a reflection of the low level of the ability of cell systems to repair DNA damage, including telomeres, which corresponds to an increased risk of cancer and diseases of the cardiovascular system. As part of an interesting study involving 662 people, participants from childhood to 38 years of age regularly assessed the blood content of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), known as "good cholesterol". The highest HDL levels corresponded to the longest telomeres. Researchers believe that the reason for this lies in a less pronounced accumulation of inflammatory and free-radical damage.

ResumeThe main conclusion from all of the above is that a person should lead a lifestyle and follow a diet that minimizes body wear and prevents damage caused by free radicals.

An important component of the telomere protection strategy is the use of products that suppress inflammatory processes. The better the state of a person's health, the less effort he can make, and vice versa. If you are healthy, your telomeres will shorten as a result of the normal aging process, so to minimize this effect, it is enough for you to increase telomere support with dietary supplements as you get older (aging). In parallel, it is necessary to lead a balanced lifestyle and avoid activities and the use of substances that have a negative impact on health and accelerate the degradation of telomeres.

Moreover, in case of adverse circumstances, such as accidents, illnesses or emotional trauma, telomeres should be provided with additional support. Prolonged conditions, such as post-traumatic stress, are fraught with telomere shortening, so a very important condition for any type of injury or adverse impact is complete recovery.

Telomeres reflect the vitality of the body, ensuring its ability to cope with various tasks and requirements. With the shortening of telomeres and / or their functional disorders, the body has to make great efforts in order to perform everyday tasks. This situation leads to the accumulation of damaged molecules in the body, which complicates the recovery processes and accelerates aging. This is a prerequisite for the development of a number of diseases that indicate the "weak points" of the body.

The condition of the skin is another indicator of the status of telomeres, reflecting the biological age of a person. In childhood, skin cells divide very quickly, and with age, the rate of their division slows down in an effort to save telomeres that are losing their ability to restore. It is best to assess the biological age by the condition of the skin of the forearms of the hands.

The preservation of telomeres is an extremely important principle of preserving health and longevity. Now a new era is opening up before us, in which science is demonstrating all new ways to slow down aging with the help of food. It's never too late or too early to start making changes to your lifestyle and diet that will guide you in the right direction.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru according to the materials NewsWithViews.com:
Nutrition Makes Anti-Aging Possible: Secrets Of Your Telomeres.


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