We baby boomers CAN stay mentally sharp
and keep our brains healthy as we grow older.

Here's how to do it.

Stress, Telomeres, and the Secret to Prevent Aging

Stress is hard on you and your brain. Chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety, poor decision-making, sleeplessness, and impaired memory. It can literally cause your brain to shrink!

But now it looks like the damage done by stress is even more serious than most people realize. Stress actually leads to premature aging on a cellular level causing cells in both your body and your brain to commit suicide prematurely.

To understand how this happens, we need to take a look at a part of your chromosomes called telomeres.

Telomeres – the Key to Aging

telomeresYou may recall from high school biology that when a cell divides, it passes on the genetic material to the next cell via chromosomes. Telomeres are protective caps on the ends of our chromosomes similar to the plastic tips on shoelaces. 

To the left is an image of real chromosomes with the telomeres dyed red.

Every time a cell divides, the telomeres get a little shorter. They act as a built-in clock with a suicide switch. When they reach a critically shortened length, they tell the cell to stop dividing and the cell dies.

Age is considered the greatest risk factor for many diseases, but it’s not how many years you’ve lived but your biological age that matters. And telomere length may be the most important indicator of biological age and disease risk.

According to University of California researcher Calvin Harley, telomere length is a better predictor for your risk of getting age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer than most conventional diagnostic tools. Shortened telomeres lead to atrophy of brain cells and longer telomere length leads to the production of new brain cells.

The implications of this are HUGE! If you could stop telomere shrinkage, could you stop aging and avoid age-related diseases?

tweet-thisTelomeres protect your chromosomes and may hold the key to prevent aging. Learn how to protect yours here.

Stress and Telomere Length

The body is amazingly resilient. It turns out that yes, you can reverse telomere shrinkage. According to Elissa Eppel, another UC researcher, there is a strong mind-to-cell health relationship. Letting stress get the better of you is one of the worst things you can do if you want to keep your telomeres long.

multitasking manEppel’s definition of stress is what she refers to as “time traveling” — either dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Multi-tasking, ruminating, and exaggerating dangers, especially threats to the ego all increase cellular aging and shorten telomeres.

Her research has found that staying in the present has actually has been found to slow cellular aging and lengthen telomeres. Meditating, which specifically trains your brain to stay in the present, has been proven to increase telomere length and slow cell aging! Some proponents of meditation have considered it the fountain of youth, perhaps these claims weren’t so far out after all.  ;-)

Here’s an enlightening and thought-provoking TEDMED video featuring Harley and Eppel discussing how psychological stress causes our cells to age by decreasing telomere length. 

Following this talk, the audience submitted over 200 questions! You can get the answers to a few of them in their brief follow-up video.

Reversing Telomere Shrinkage

Besides stress-reduction, how else can you increase the length of your telomeres?

Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD won the  2009 Nobel Prize for her research in this area. She reports that in studying the habits of people who have longer telomeres, research consistently shows that diets high in omega-3 essential fatty acids and physical exercise lengthen telomeres. (1) The exact process isn’t known, but exercise may help by mitigating the effects of stress

Numerous other nutrients have been found to keep telomeres long.

  • Individual vitamins such as B12, C, D and E have been shown to promote telomere length, but cover your bases with a good multivitamin supplement. Taking a multivitamin has been shown to improve telomere length. (2)
  • Polyphenols found  in green tea protect DNA from oxidative stress and protect telomeres from damage. (4)

Protect Your Telomeres, Protect Your Brain

Unless you are new to this site, you’ll notice that the advice for protecting your telomeres sounds very similar to that for taking care your brain, so when you take steps to help one you’ll be helping the other. I think that’s what is referred to as a “two-fer” ;-)

If you haven’t perfected your practice of meditation, below you’ll find some programs that can help.

Be sure to check out Prograde Nutrition’s Total Wellness Package which contains all the nutrients you need for both healthy telomeres and a healthy brainmultivitamin, omega-3, and antioxidants — in one convenient, money-saving package.

Our Best Recommendations for Brain Health & Fitness

Prograde Total Wellness Package - Essential brain nutrition system

Prograde Total Wellness Package

Omega-3, antioxidant & multivitamin supplements

These are called essential brain supplements because they give your body and brain what your diet cannot. And if you don't supply your brain nutritionally, you will hasten its decline. Nutrition is powerful medicine. Use it. Prograde has a 60-day guarantee on everything.

Prograde EFA Icon omega-3 supplement

Prograde EFA Icon

Omega-3 supplement

Krill oil is a superior source of omega-3 fatty acids – a proven protector against memory loss, mood swings, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Most omega-3 supplements are of inferior quality. If you can take only one supplement for brain health, this must be it.

Prograde Longevity antioxidant supplement 

Prograde Longevity

Antioxidant supplement

This is a potent antioxidant supplement that protects your brain cells against free radical damage and premature death. Antioxidants are such powerful safeguards against damage that is constantly occurring in our bodies that it's only common sense to get the best quality supplement available. We think that's Prograde.

Prograde VGF 25+ multivitamin supplement for women and Prograde VGF 25+ for men

Prograde VGF 25+

Multivitamin supplement

A good multivitamin is the foundation of good brain nutrition. And men and women have different nutritional requirements. This one is made from 25+ natural whole foods. Prograde Nutrition has excellent quality and research standards; that's why we're so pro-Prograde. Don't gamble on your brain's nutrition.
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Mindvalley OmHarmonics

Mindvalley OmHarmonics

Meditation technology program

Experience the benefits of deep meditation in a matter of minutes. Beautiful, relaxing music combined with revolutionary sound technology results in a powerfully effective meditation experience. Sign up for "The Balance", a free meditation designed to reduce stress, while increasing focus and balance in your life.

Inspire 3 Brain Evolution System

Inspire 3 Brain Evolution System

Brainwave training system

Meditation on demand! Unique sound technology - brainwave entrainment - reduces stress and improves thinking, memory and mood. The effect is like that of meditation, but without the frustration.

Inspire 3 Brain Salon

Inspire 3 Brain Salon

Brainwave training programs

Uses brainwave entrainment sound technology to regulate brain function. Listen to different sound patterns to energize, relax, sleep, focus, or improve your mood.

Jack Kornfield Guided Meditation

Jack Kornfield Meditation

Meditation CDs

Meditation is widely known for reducing stress, increasing focus and concentration, and many other cognitive and health benefits. Jack Kornfield, celebrated meditation teacher, is the author for both of these. Together, these are an excellent introduction to the practice of meditation. We like these a lot.

Disclosure: If you click a link and buy a product, a portion of the sale goes to support Be Brain Fit. We never endorse products we don't wholeheartedly believe in. Products are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. See our Disclosure Policy & Terms of Use.

We baby boomers CAN stay mentally sharp
and keep our brains healthy as we grow older.

Here's how to do it.

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