Telomeres and the link to wellbeing

So what exactly are Telomeres?

Telo what I hear you say. Telomeres!! No I haven’t just made that word up these wonderful things do actually exist.

If you know me you’ll know how much of a research queen I am, and will know how much I love to research wellbeing hacks to help us along the way. Keeping us in optimum health, body and mind without the use of pharmaceuticals. Well telomeres are the protective caps on the end of your chromosones that create a communication and protection system for your genes.

In each cell we have 23 pairs of chromosones inherited from our mother and father, our DNA blueprint. Embeded within these chromosones are our genes. These caps or ends of your chromosomes protect the genes from damage and enable the cells to continue dividing.

So imagine the cells for one moment, dividing and dividing as they naturally do. The ends of these cells (our telomeres) on each division naturally get shorter over time with each division. The genes stay the same but the telomeres get a little shorter causing us to age.

When these telomeres get shorter over time, disease and ageing starts to develop. Without trying to sound all doom and gloom, I think we can all imagine what happens when these telomeres disappear altogether from the end of our chromosones. But what if I told you there was a way to stabilise and then lengthen our telomeres, anti ageing at it’s best.

Can we actually lengthen our Telomeres to give us longevity?

Well studies have shown that lifestyle can be either beneficial or detrimental to our telomere length depending on how we choose to live our life. This is fantastic news as it puts us back in the driving seat as to whether we shorten or lengthen our telomeres over time. The power really is in our own hands.

If you haven’t been living the best lifestyle over the years, fear not, as studies have shown that with just 3-6 months of restorative work on our health and wellbeing we can stabilise and lengthen our telomeres so we can be back in the driving seat on the road to telomere recovery in no time.

When we talk about lifestyle what sort of things matter?

Well we all know by now that sleep is good for us, right? Having the right amount of sleep but just as importantly sleeping soundly, an anti inflammatory diet (basically plenty of veg and fruit), exercise and meditation all help to lengthen our telomeres.

But heres the interesting thing! Studies are now showing that aside from our lifestyle choices our social relationships also play a large role in having the ability to stabilise and lengthen our telomeres. Love, connection and feeling supported in our relationships with less conflictual relationships help to grow these ingenious little caps.

Who would have thought it? The Beatles really did have the answer “Love is all you need”. So take a look around you and those you choose to surround yourself with and have in your life. Do you feel supported and loved? It’s more important than I think we’ve ever imagined.

My sister explains my way of thinking as ‘wavy gravy’ ways but there is something in what I often speak of which is now being scientifically proven. Yeh! so I’m not completely bonkers after all.

Optimism and positive thinking is yet another way to help those telomeres gain some length. Attitudes, thoughts and feelings have a physiological effect on our body. The body and mind truly are linked with one affecting the other and vice versa. So let’s raise the vibe peeps and start thinking on the bright side of life.

Is stress a telomere destructor?

Chronic stress, trauma and generally having a chronically hostile attitude weakens the enzyme telomerase. Telomerase is the thing that protects the telomeres . So if the telomerase is weakened then this places the telomeres in a more vulnerable position. Think of the telomerase as the peaceful warrior batting off anything untoward keeping those telomeres safe and protected.

Stress is inflammatory and inflammation has been linked to a number of different issues, including depression. Certain chemicals in the body such as free radicals, insulin levels and inflammation all weaken the telomerase which then start to damage the telomeres.

Now not all stress is bad. Some stress is good for the body as it helps to build resilience. When we can rapidly recover from a stressful event, meaning, it is a strong peak but drops quickly and returns to homeostasis then this can be quite beneficial for us. However when that stress turns chronic where we live in a heightened state day in day out then this is when the issues start.

Imagine a gazelle happily grazing away. Picture a lion entering the area. The gazelle will notice, then become super alert. When the gazelle senses danger it will be off quicker than Usain Bolt running for the finish line to avoid becoming the lions lunch. However shortly after, when the gazelle is no longer in danger, it will go back to happily grazing away as if nothing ever happened.

That gazelle has resilience, the ability to recover quickly from difficulties. Having that ability builds more resilience and this is actually beneficial for the body.

Say the gazelle wasn’t able to graze shortly after as it was sat feeling traumatised and ruminating of how it made it feel. By doing this over and over, not being able to get over it, it would change from beneficial stress to chronic stress. The stress bar would have been cranked up and the new level of norm is created.

What can we do to reduce stress and lengthen the telomeres?

It is said that if we have stresses in life but maintain a healthy lifestyle then these lifestyle choices act as a buffer for the telomeres. By building greater resilience, improving our lifestyle and surrounding ourselves with love and support from those we choose to spend time with we can protect and lengthen our telomeres.

7 tips to help

  1. When we are stressed out daily with the same situations whether that be in relationships, our job or our environment start to notice and become aware first of all. Awareness is the first step to being able to change. If we can’t change the situation then look at changing the way we feel about it as that is definitely in our control. Perhaps changing our perception of the situation may help to change our stress levels of the situation.
  2. Conscious breath work is a fantastic tool that is free and available to us all whenever we need it. By learning to breathe properly ( yes it’s true many people don’t breathe properly ) and taking the breath down to the belly area we can change our state of mind in seconds.
  3. When you wake up each morning think of something that you are grateful for. It really can change your day by starting the day on a positive note, raising your vibration.
  4. Meditation is another amazing way to de-stress and notice the things that come up. Remember you don’t need to clear your mind to meditate. Just notice the things coming up and let them go. This is a practice of learning not to hold onto things and becoming unattached to the thoughts. Over time we can create the space needed in our mind to let things go enabling us to make choices using our whole brain rather than just our right or left side.
  5. Check your diet. What do you eat daily? What do you choose to put in your body. Are you eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables? Remember food is medicine.
  6. Try keeping positive, our emotions, thoughts and feelings are important and have a physiological effect on the body. Keep it light and find the joy in life.
  7. Exercise, whatever exercise makes you feel good. Choose something within reach that is doable so you can continue and make it a habit.
  8. Try to surround yourself with people who lift you up. People you feel supported and loved by and you do the same to them in return. True connection is underrated.

Join my Facebook Group Battle to Balance

Would like to learn more about how to stay balanced, build resilience and reduce stress? Then feel free to join my free Facebook group called Battle to Balance. Click the link below to join.

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