What Is the Relationship between Telomeres and Aging?

For centuries man has been trying to discover the key to reverse the effects of aging. In recent times, the role of telomeres and aging is rapidly becoming a subject of much inquisition. A telomere is a repeating pattern of DNA. It exists at the end of a chromosome within the nucleus of a cell. It serves as a protector of the cell’s genetic material. Cellular division would cause a fraying and destruction of actual genetic material which would render the cell unable to reproduce causing cellular death if telomeres didn’t exist or if they were to get too short.

Telomere could be to say they are like the plastic tip on a shoelace. The fabric of the shoelace stays intact as long as the plastic is in good shape. In the case of our chromosomes, the essential unit for cellular division, the plastic shoelace end is the telomere. Telomere protects the genetic data held within the chromosome. It enables cells to divide and perfectly replicate themselves. Imperfect replication can lead to premature aging, cancer, and cell death. The telomeres also protect the ends of chromosomes from “scrambling genetic information” with the ends of other chromosomes. Scrambling genetic information can lead to many diseases, including cancer, and even to death.

Each time the cell divides and replicates, the telomere becomes a tiny bit shorter. Cells are programmed to reproduce about 50 times. When the telomeres become too short they can no longer do their job of protecting the chromosome. Telomeres are called biomarkers of aging. Their length can indicate how quickly a cell and consequently the human associated with that cell are aging.

Telomere research now led to finding ways to keep the telomeres as long and healthy as possible after discovering the role of telomeres and aging. Researchers are now looking to find out the answer of questions like were there factors or nutrients which could support the longevity of the telomere, and its enzyme telomerase. The nutrients could have a profound effect on the health and future of the human race.

Research into the role of Polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant, in the protection of telomeres has had dramatic growth within the past three years. Polyphenols are found in many plant sources, with Muskadine Grapes and Japanese Knotweed being among the most powerful.

In 1984 the enzyme telomerase is discovered by Drs. Blackburn and Greider. It facilitates the cell’s division and replication by extending the length and the life of the telomere. Now research is going on to find ways to extend the life of telomeres, and enhance the activity of telomerase. Researchers are now researching on not only on polyphenols, but also on resveratrol.

Resveratrol is famous phenol known for its “Red Wine Effect”, whereby the French population, which consumes red wine and a rich diet almost daily, can remain healthy, active, slender and free of heart disease well into their golden years.