Our DNA contains small tiny units called “Telomere” at the ends, just like the plastic encase at the end of a shoe lace, which protects the lace from getting damaged. The telomere replicates completely each time the cell divides but with increasing age and oxidative stress (overproduction of free radicals) they are not able to replicate completely and thus their length begins to shorten. Ageing is defined by shortening of this telomere. So maintaining the length of telomere is the key to longevity. We can maintain the length of telomere by modulating our lifestyle, making necessary changes to both our diet and nutrient intake.
ANTI AGEING FOODS & NUTRIENTS
“Food has power to change the expression of genes and can effectively prevent shortening of telomere by reducing oxidative stress”
I have listed foods that are known for ages as healthiest food to arrest ageing process.
- Free range chicken eggs: Eggs are considered super food for ages because they are rich in protein & essential amino acids (for repair and growth), lutein & zeaxanthin (for eyes), choline (for brain and muscles) and naturally occurring Vitamin D. Best way to eat eggs is in the raw form along with yolk (rich source of biotin).
- Leafy vegetables: Vegetables like spinach, mustard greens, beet greens, collard are rich source of lutein, zeaxanthin, beta carotene, vitamin C and sulforaphane; known as strong antioxidants which prevent telomere shortening. They are also rich source of vitamin K, a fat soluble vitamin vital for blood clotting, strong bones and are also known to prevent certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
- Broccoli: It’s a cruciferous vegetable with rich green colour containing isothiocyanate; a cancer fighting compound. This family includes vegetables like cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage. They all contain sulforaphane which acts as estrogen metabolism regulator in our body.
- Garlic: Allicin is an active ingredient present in Garlic and has strong anti inflammatory, anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti viral and immune boosting properties. Best way to eat garlic is to press, chop or crush it and wait for few minutes for alliin to convert into allicin.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is rich source of MCT (medium chain triglycerides), which are primary composed of caprylic acid and capris acid. The MCT’s are absorbed very easily into the blood stream and have myriad of health benefits ranging from fuel for brain, weight loss, healthy lipid profile and anti inflammatory properties.
- Curcumin: It’s found in turmeric, a yellow spice used in Indian curries having potent anti inflammatory & immune boosting properties. It is vastly studied for its anti cancer properties but in order to benefit from this herb look for supplement containing 95% curcuminoids.
- Whey protein: It can increase Glutathione levels, an endogenously produced primary antioxidant by every cell in our body to prevent damage by free radicals. Amino acids like cysteine, glycine and glutamine are precursors for glutathione and whey is rich source of amino acids, especially cysteine.
- Vitamin D: It acts as potent anti inflammatory agent and gives protection against many chronic diseases. You can measure your 25 OH vitamin D levels by blood test and try to maintain levels between 50-70 mg/ml.
- CoQ10 (ubiquinol): Ubiquinol is needed for cellular energy production and prevent damage from free radicals. It also helps in the recycling of essential vitamins like C and E. Body has to convert the oxidised form of ubiquinone to reduced form Ubiquinol for its effective utilization, which usually decreases with age. Most of the lean meats are rich in Ubiquinol, while lesser quantities are present in vegetables like broccoli and parsley.
- Resveratrol: It’s a polyphenol found in skin of grapes and berries. The red wine, especially Merlot and Pinot noir are rich in resveratrol. It acts as potent anti oxidant and is believed to activate a gene called Sirtuin 1, which is also activated during caloric restriction.
- Green Tea: It contains polyphenols particularly EGCG, which offers protection against many types of cancer. To get the best benefit from green tea, drink Matcha green tea as it contains whole grounded tea leaves and provides 100 times more EGCG than regular green tea.
- Vitamin B12 and Folic acid: Vitamin B12 helps in DNA synthesis, myelin formation and energy production while folic acid play role in maintaining the integrity of DNA and methylation, both which influence the telomere length. Vegetarians are found to be deficient on B12 as it is mainly found in animal protein, eggs and poultry. Leafy green vegetables and beans are rich source of folic acid.
- Omega-3 Fatty acids: Omega 3 fatty acids are found in nuts, seeds and fish. They have anti inflammatory properties and help in development of brain.
Any type of chronic stress, whether it is physical or psychological can shorten telomere length. Obesity and lack of exercise shortens telomere length thereby reducing age by increasing oxidative stress.
14. Exercise: Vigorous exercise has shown to prevent telomere shortening while long duration steady exercises can increase free radical burden thereby predisposing the risk of damage to DNA and telomere length. Vigorous exercise like sprints and other activity including strong man training sessions are best bet.
15. Yoga and Meditation: They both are proven methods for ages to arrest ageing by activating parasympathetic activity by reducing stress. Any kind of stress can lead to overproduction of free radicals so including yoga or mediation in your daily routine for 30-60 mins is a good way to
16. Fasting: Intermittent fasting (once a week) prevents the telomere shortening in many studies by activating SIRT 1 gene. Fasting and lowering sugar and carbs intake actually increases insulin sensitivity, which is linked to activity of SIRT 1 genes.