John Tiong Jeh Lung
MPharm, PhD, RPh
Our body has the natural capability to regenerate through cell division that ensures your survival. Ironically, this crucial biological process typically wanes as we age. Ever wondered what is the key to this process?
The ground breaking cell biology research by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn (Nobel Prize winner) in the late 20th century successfully unravelled the vital role of telomeres (the structures which cap the tips of chromosomes) in protecting the genetic information within our chromosomes.
It was shown that telomeres naturally shorten over time (with each successive cell division) and upon their depletion, the cells will stop dividing or die. The capability of our body to regenerate and to maintain its physiological functions will decline when more cells in our body cease to divide hence triggering the process of aging. As such, the rate of telomere-shortening is an important factor which determines the lifespan of a cell and more importantly our biological clock.
Image credit: Institute for Advanced Telomere Medicine
Interestingly, mounting evidence from medical research has revealed that the process of telomere-shortening is also linked to environmental influence. Stress, unhealthy behaviour and poor diet among others, appear to be the most important external factors that can accelerate the process of telomere-shortening which precipitates to:
- premature aging
- earlier onset of diseases
This probably explains why some young people who do not take good care of themselves often look worn out whereas others who do care for themselves may look youthful despite their older age.
As it seems, you do have a certain control over your own longevity. Therefore, it is time for you to opt for a positive mental outlook and healthy lifestyle (getting adequate sleep, exercise regularly and getting the right diets) if you wish to slow down the process of ageing. It is in you to preserve your own youth!
- Boccardi al. (2016) Nutrition and lifestyle in healthy aging: the telomerase challenge. Aging 8(1): 12-15.
- Elizabeth H. Blackburn – Facts”. org.Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 22 Jul 2017. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2009/blackburn-facts.html
- Epel al. (2004). Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress. PNAS 101(49): 17312–17315.
- Shammas, M. (2011) Telomeres, lifestyle, cancer, and aging. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 14(1): 28-34
- Image credit: http://telomere.or.jp/en/index.html
- Image credit: http://united-rx.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/anti-aging-clinics.jpg