Telomeres, basic proteins that shield the body’s chromosomes can be lengthened by lifestyle changes and eating proper diets, Dr Rasheed Abassi, a medical expert says.
Abassi, who is the Chief Medical Director of Heritage Men’s Clinic, said this on Saturday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
According to him, telomeres are like shields at the end of each chromosome and chromosomes are basic biological markers that form in Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
DNA is the molecule that carries genetic information for the development and functioning of an organism.
“We are made of cells, and each cell has a chromosome, the telomeres are the shields at the tail of the chromosomes.
“Our cells become degraded, while DNA breakdown as we age. So, if my telomeres are doing a job and I’m giving them the tools, as protectors, they will slow down and prevent ageing.
“The quality of life is as a result of your protectors and telomeres protect your DNA, so if your DNA is not protected, it gets exposed to inflammatory radicals and this will hasten DNA damage.”
According to him, the telomeres allow human cells to communicate and the latest discovery on human genome is that the longer ones telomeres, the longer one lives.
“The big news, however, is that we can affect this telomeres by making the appropriate lifestyle changes and eating foods that can actually lengthen or shorten your telomeres.”
He said that the lifestyle changes included having adequate and quality sleep, exercise, reduced salt intake and sufficient water intake.
Abassi said that the longer one lives without paying attention to life style changes, they are exposed to inflammation.
“Inflammation is the basic cause of cardiovascular issues such as heart attack, stroke, myocardial infraction and uncontrolled high blood pressure.
“Insufficient sleep creates internal stressors which lead to inflammation, and that affects your telomeres.
“New born babies have not been exposed to any form of stress, so no inflammation at all because they depend on their parents to provide everything for them.
“However, the older you get and start acquiring these life stressors, your body accumulates a lot of inflammatory processes and those are the ones that affect your telomeres.”
He added that these inflammatory processes shorten the telomeres which equated to loss of quality life.
Speaking about how to sleep, he said that in between naps during the day and good sleep at night at least thrice a week would increase the telomeres.
He likened sleep during the day to a car’s mini service, different from major oil change and transmission repair.
“If you get good day and night sleep, the body does the restorative and cleansing process.
“Glymphatic activity, this is the only time the human brain undergoes its cleaning process and this activity is exponentially boosted during sleep.”
Abassi also said that there was a link between telomeres and cancer.
He said that recent research showed that the consumption of processed foods and carbonated drinks lead to inflammation and that inflammatory processes lead to cancer.
“You need to protect your telomeres from cancer. Beans, lettuce and other good foods rich in fiber and low in fat are what we need to regulate our telomeres.
“Also, exercise is good but not stress induced exercise. Regular 15 minutes brisk walk in the morning and evening after dinner has been proven to reduce all major cardiovascular stressors.
“Our major issue in this part of the universe are the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, strokes and heart attacks.
“All are positively mediated by exercise, such as 15 minutes twice daily, including the likes of prostate, breast, colon and lung cancer reduction.
“We live healthy lives by eating healthy and unprocessed foods, reduce salt intake and engage in non-stress induced exercise. No one can exercise his or her way out of poor diet,” he added.
Abassi also said that water was very important in preserving or nourishing the telomeres.
He added that stress cells in the body needed something to get rid of them and that the kidney craved for as much water as it could get.
He stressed that the clearer the colour of the urine without bubbles, the better the kidney.
“Water clears all these deadly toxins and the more water you drink, the better you feel.
“So drink more water throughout the day, and three hours before bedtime so your bladder can hold the urine for eight hours or more, thus allowing you to get a sound uninterrupted sleep.
“Your urine should have no color and no bubbles,” the doctor added.
He also linked environmental factors to impact on telomeres.
He said that pollution could negatively impact the telomeres as exposure to deadly gases act as inflammatory precursor which then affected the telomeres.