Ever wondered why you get older?
It’s a legitimate question.
We know, for example, that cells in the body are dying off all the time and being replaced. Your skin cells regenerate every 2 to 3 weeks, while the cells of your stomach lining only last 5 days.
So if you’re only as old as your cells…
And the average age of average cell in the human body is 11 to 15 years old …
Then why aren’t you permanently youthful?
It turns out that every time a cell divides, the protective cap on the end of the cell’s DNA—called a telomere—gets a bit shorter.
It gets shorter and shorter and shorter until ultimately it’s worn down completely…
And the cell’s life is over for good.
So we’ve got a ticking clock built into us, counting down until the day our cells can no longer renew themselves.
Can Understanding Telomeres Halt Aging?
This extraordinary fact won Elizabeth Blackburn and her team a Nobel Prize.
She knew that the aging process is inversely connected to telomere length, but she wanted to know if the aging process could be reversed.
Could short telomeres grow long again?
She found the answer in a hitherto undiscovered enzyme called telomerase. This enzyme adds onto telomeres, replacing the base pairs that were worn away.
Telomerase is DNA’s fountain of youth.
Some cells naturally enjoy higher levels of telomerase than others, in particular those that belong to the immune system.
In a cruel twist of fate, cancer cells hijack the telomerase of immune cells, rendering themselves as close to immortal as a cell can get.
What if scientists could deny cancer cells the life-boosting effects of telomerase, condemning them to an early death?
What if scientists could sneak some telomerase to the other 100 trillion cells in the body that right now are winding down to their demise every time they divide?
These are some of the questions driving longevity research, but they’ve been a specialized topic until recently…
When the subject hit the New York Times bestseller list.
Live Longer with the Help of Telomeres
Elizabeth Blackburn’s book The Telomere Effect, co-written with Elissa Epel, hit bookstands in January 2017.
In it, Dr. Blackburn shares specific tips to harness the power of telomeres to extend your lifespan.
To maintain that protective cap on the end of your DNA for as long as possible, you don’t have to take expensive supplements or follow a strict health plan.
Instead, the best measures you can take to live long and prosper are the simplest ones.
Look after your mental health. Researchers have known for some time that mindfulness practices were good for you, but they’re only now discovering how good. Meditation, qigong, yoga and tai chi won’t just help you deal with stress and enjoy a clearer mind; they’ll help you live longer.
Eat a diet rich in whole foods. Stay away from inflammation-causing foods like alcohol, red meat, sugar, soda pop, and processed foods. Lean towards a Mediterranean diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Avoid yo-yo dieting, because your weight matters less to telomeres than you might think.
Don’t stay in an abusive relationship. Happily married women tend to have longer telomeres, while women who’ve stayed for years in situations of domestic violence experience shorter telomeres in direct proportion to how long they stayed in the relationship. Yikes.
Move your body. You don’t have to spend hours at the gym. Even 10 to 15 minutes of brisk walking a day can boost your health. But if you’re super-stressed, up your exercise. Telomeres respond best to moderate aerobic exercise.
Sleep. Seven hours a day, minimum.
No smoking. But you knew that already.
Healthy Living Just Got More Complicated
If anything, what the new science of anti-aging has taught us is that everything is interconnected.
Telomeres listen to you. They listen to your behaviors; they listen to your state of mind.” 
– Elizabeth Blackburn
Health is no longer just a matter of eat well and exercise.
It’s now a matter of our relationships, our attitude, our mental health, and our self-care.
Your environment affects your stress levels. Any trauma you experienced as a child lives on in your body. Negativity and sarcasm can shorten your lifespan.
Treat your telomeres with respect, and they’ll reward you with cell renewal for years to come.