WASHINGTON DC, February 14, 2013 - In 1953, Leonard Hayflick, PhD discovered that the human cell divides about 50 times and then dies. This is known as the Hayflick Limit, the end of life. In the 1970’s scientists discovered the reason for the Hayflick Limit was the telomere.
Telomeres are short caps of DNA on the ends of the chromosomes. Each time the cell divides, the telomere shortens. When most of the telomere disappears, the cell dies. The length of the telomere has been proposed as a marker of biological aging.
The length of the original telomere is about 15,000 at conception but drops an amazing 5,000 base pairs to 10,000 at the time of birth. At 20 years, the average telomere length is 8,000. By age 50, around 7,000 remain. And so it goes, losing 50-100 base pairs a year until only 4000 remain at age 100.
You are as old and healthy as your telomeres. The art of aging gracefully is about keeping your telomeres long and healthy. Your cells are programmed to replicate your cells, some experts say, well into early hundreds. Your DNA are coded to keep long, healthy telomeres but there are major destroyers that you need to keep in mind.
Your Health Failure
Your health peaks at around 22 years of age, may plateau for another decade or so and begins to fail after 53 years of age. This failure, called aging, will continue in a pattern based on your living habits. Aging begins at the cellular level. If you keep healthy cells and replace them with healthy cells you will enjoy a long, healthy life. You have outside influences on your life that will make this challenging. But if you understand what you are up against you can make changes in your lifestyle now that will add years to your life.
The Major Aging Factors
The life and health of a cell is influenced by three major stressors: oxidation, inflammation, and glycation. Each of these factors influences the other, making them compound their destructive effects.
Oxidation is a process that produces free radicals – high energy molecules that are unstable. Under normal conditions oxygen is added during biochemical reactions in your body. The problem comes when oxygen is added (oxidation) to an already unstable compound. Any polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) has a double bond which makes them very subject to oxidation. Oxygen is attracted to the PUFA. When oxygen attaches to the oil it creates oxidative free radical damage. You get PUFAs in your fast food places. You also get them when you eat donuts, french fries, salad dressings, and mayonnaise. All corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil – how is this even edible? – are PUFAs. Crisco and margarines are oils exposed to extremely high temperatures and made into wonderfully fluffy artificial spreads that are damaging your body exponentially. These are omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Eat them at your own peril.
Even your omega 3s, the ‘good oils’ are nothing more than PUFAs. Fish oil, Krill oil, and walnuts are polyunsaturated fatty acids. An omega 3 fatty acid is one with its first double bond on the 3rd carbon from the Omega end of the chain – the end opposite the carboxylic acid. It’s still a PUFA.
There are health experts today that promote omega 3s without telling you of the of the severe oxidation that happens. Omega-3 fatty acids cause oxidative stress and increase pro-inflammatory products. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition August 2011; Volume 94; No. 2; pp. 618-619). You shouldn’t take omega 3s without taking a large amount of anti-oxidant nutrition. Omega 3s are promoted for their anti-inflammatory effects. But why would you take them for this reason when they are causing oxidative and free radical damages?
PUFAs interfere with normal biological processes and create abnormal metabolism. Free radical attacks to collagen produces skin and other epithelial damages – wrinkles. Free radical attacks on DNA and telomeres damage cellular replication and cause advanced cellular death and aging.
The fat composition in a healthy human body is composed of more 90% saturated fat – saturated with hydrogen bonds. It is the natural saturation of hydrogen that allows for good neuronal transmission, energy production, and structural support. Today the amount of saturated fat in humans is far less because of the dietary emphasis on vegetable oils, fast foods, and the avoidance of saturated fats.
You need saturated fats in your diet like olive oil, coconut oil, and butter. You also need saturated animal fat in your diet.
The higher ratios of PUFAs to saturated fats in your body the more oxidation and the more cell death you will have.
Chronic inflammation is a response of the body to harmful attacks of microorganisms, damaged cells, or other irritants like free radicals. The body responds by producing the inflammatory response – a combination of the autonomic nervous system, the immune system, and the hormonal system – that produces swelling, heat, increased blood flow, and even pain, in attempt to remove the irritant. The more inflammation the more cellular damage.
Glycation is the bonding of protein or lipid with a sugar such as fructose or glucose. Glycosylated hemoglobin is a hemoglobin molecule exposed to glucose – the hemoglobin molecule has been glycated and it is associated with excess sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance. Glycosylated hemoglobin is measured in laboratory blood chemistry as HbA1c. If the insulin resistance is accompanied by high levels of blood sugar, then glycosylated hemoglobin in red blood cells reacts with proteins to form advanced glycosylated end products (AGEs). A type II diabetic is at an increased risk of cancer – for every 1% increase in HbA1c there is an 18% increase of all cancers in type II diabetics.
Glycation is similar to oxidation. Both cause cellular dysfunction, premature aging, and death.
The telomere is a biological clock because it is associated with cell replication. When the cells are exposed to even low levels of stress the telomere shortens and the cell ages faster. If you damage the telomeres faster by exposing them to the major aging factors you will burn up the cell. The mitochondria, the major energy producers in the cells, have an ability to buffer the free radicals and lower the free radical damage. The strength of the mitochondria is the strength of the cell. The telomeres depend on the energy produced by the mitochondria for their maintenance and upkeep.
A radical approach to healthcare and graceful aging will be to attend to the health of the systems of the body so disease is less likely to take root. It will have to focus on elemental biochemical process and to reduce the major health destroyers.
Sweeping changes in healthcare delivery will have to include natural approaches to health. Consumers will have to move away from the reliance on pharmaceutical drug use. They will have to take more responsibility in taking care of themselves. Agricultural industries will have to radically change the way food is grown, processed, packaged, and stored. Genetically engineered food is a nightmare people are beginning to wake up to and we won’t understand the biochemical and physiological manifestations until it will be too late to recall.
The health care in the U.S. is on an accelerated downward spiral. It is one of the worst ranked in the industrial nations and even lower than many third world countries. People are living longer but with more health complications. Younger people are developing chronic health problems earlier than in human history.
The anti-aging formula is more about avoiding the attacks against your pre-programmed cells and body systems. It is about removing any interference to your natural innate intelligence.
Dr Peter Lind practices metabolic and neurologic chiropractic in his wellness clinic in Salem, Oregon. USA. He is the author of three books on health, one novel, and hundreds of wellness articles. His clinical specialty is in physical, nutritional, and emotional stress.
For more health tips go to his Wellness Report
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