Yes, you read right. For the first time, researchers have found evidence that lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise and stress management may lengthen telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that control ageing.
Until now, researchers have thought that telomeres can only get shorter. A study published in The Lancet Oncology shows that they can actually get longer – and that the key to growth is as simple as diet, exercise and stress management. The research, led by Dr. Dean Ornish at the University of California, found that the group that made lifestyle changes increased the length of their telomeres by almost 10 percent. The control group that didn’t make any changes to their lifestyle had the opposite result – their telomeres got shorter by about 3 percent. What’s more, they also found that the more people at any age changed their lifestyle, the longer their telomeres got! While larger controlled trials are needed to confirm this finding, there’s no reason not to test it out for yourself!Telomere-what?
Think of the telomeres like the plastic tips on shoelaces that keep our DNA and chromosomes from unravelling. When they shorten and weaken, the risk of age-related diseases including heart disease and cancer increase. Telomere shortness in human beings is a prognostic marker of ageing, disease, and premature morbidity.