By Elisa Adams of The Natural Market
and Joyce L. Faiola
Conclusion of a 2-part story
Focusing briefly on an inflammatory gene signal known as NF-kappaB, scientists have found a variety of NF-kappaB -quenching factors in our fruits, berries, vegetables and nuts.
Specific studies investigating nutrients to calm down NF-kappaB have found that quercetin, resveratrol, green tea catechins, grape seed extract, curcumin and turmeric, all demonstrate the ability to help preserve telomeres, with grape seed extract and curcumin able to generate longer telomeres!
Telomeres are tiny units of repeating sequences of DNA at the ends of each chromosome. Each time a cell replicates and divides, the telomere becomes a little shorter, like a string of pop beads as beads slowly fall off and are lost. In the case of telomeres, longer is better..
Curcumin is currently the focus of much study for its ability to help repair DNA, especially epigenetic malfunction.
Epigenetic mechanism is how the body, guided by its many influences, regulates a person's genes: which genes are active, switched off -- or silencing genes that are not needed.
The research on epigenetic medicine tells us that what your mother and even your grandmother ate even before you were born can influence our genes, DNA and cells. Any significant prolonged exposure to challenging environmental or physiological factors can cause inheritable epigenetic changes in your body's basic functions.
External factors such as such as lack of food, shelter, sleep, exposure to dangerous weather conditions, prolonged stress and other negative factors can modify gene expression, altering its cell division rate, cellular repair process and more.
Children are vulnerable to direct damage as are babies developing in the womb (due to exposures of the mother). Older people also suffer epigenetic damage resulting from accumulated abnormalities of a lifetime of cellular division.
Resveratrol is intriguing because it works in a similar pathway as does calorie restriction in extending one's lifespan. Eating less or fasting activates the SIRT 1 gene, which reduces cellular stress during times of famine, and resveratrol also activates SIRT 1, providing the same benefit in maintaining telomeres. (The SIRT 1 gene can be a source of power and longevity because when it is activated it produces proteins that shield cells from inflammation and damage by oxidation. This gene is a defense mechanism activated by low calorie consumption. This gene is thought to have a positive effect on lifespan with studies proving that animals living on a calorie restricted diet live as much as 40 percent longer than those whose calories are not controlled.)
Prematurely short telomeres are a way to identify an inflamed body that is having difficulty repairing its DNA. This is a clear marker for cancer and for heart disease. A study tracking 662 people up until age 38 found that high HDL (the protective cholesterol) levels were found in the ones with the longest telomeres. The researchers' conclusions included the hypothesis that low inflammation and low free radical damage up to this point had helped both raise the HDL and protect the length of their telomeres.
The length of your telomeres reflects the vitality your body displays to keep up with its challenges. As telomeres shorten or become functionally impaired, aging is accelerated. Therefore, reducing inflammation and preserving our telomeres is an important principle of health and aging.
Those of us who succeed in this balancing act can be rewarded with a longer lifespan and a better quality of mental and physical health during the aging years.
It is never too young to start or too late to benefit!