If we want to stay youthful, gorgeous and healthy, then 'old age' isn't what we want. And scientists have recently discovered that the telomere makes a huge difference in keeping our genes, and therefore our cells, young. I don't understand any of the scientific lingo about what a telomere actually is but it's described as being like those plastic thingies on the end of a shoelace. The plastic piece, of course, keeps a shoelace from fraying and likewise the telomere does the same thing for a gene. In other words, it's a protective cap.
So here are six ways to keep your telomeres smiling.
1. Leafy greens have lots of alpha-lipoic acid which soaks into your telmeres and prevents them from nasty toxins. So eat lots of salad and make sure it includes leafy greens, like spinach, red leaf, kale, romaine and arugala – forget that iceberg stuff.
2. Spend at least 20-30 minutes a day doing something relaxing and soothing. Meditation, yoga or tai chi is great but even a long, soaking bubble bath will work. Deep relaxation cuts down on cortisol, a stress hormone which damages telomeres.
3. Forget eating processed meat like bologna and salami, except as an occasional treat. A University of Texas research project concluded that all the preservatives and the poor quality fats actually damage telomeres (not that these conclusions are any big surprise). If you want a meat sandwich, use last night's leftover chicken or other meat. At least it isn't as loaded with chemicals. Or choose peanut butter, cheese, eggs or tuna for your filling, mixed with some leafy lettuce, of course.
4. Fifteen minutes a day of moderate exercise like walking, or even something more energetic like playing tennis or jogging, creates telomerase, an enzyme that repairs a telomere.
5. A simple multivitamin that contains vitamin B12 and folic acid will help to repair telomeres and postpone aging.
6. This last tip is one I will never do myself … eat beets. Radishes and beets are the only vegetables I truly dislike but some people love them. They're loaded with carotenoids and flavonoids which are antioxidants that promote genetic health. However, lots of veggies have these – but beets also have "betacyanins" and "betaxanthins". These are reddish compounds that reduce our risk of cancer and inhibit the growth of 'suspicious' cells.
I recently watched a very funny skit by comedian Jim Gaffagan on Comedy Central. He hates kale (I love it) and said that if it's discovered that it cures cancer he'll take the chemo. That's pretty much how I feel about beets. OK, I'd prefer beets, but still …
We can buy the most expensive cosmetics in the world and have all kinds of surgery to prevent aging. But 'youthing' really comes from the inside out. So use these tips on telomeres and aging to stay younger, longer.