Studies show we can slow our own ageing process! In a recent TED talk given by 2009 Nobel Prize winning biologist, Elizabeth Blackburn, she blames ageing on our chromosomes. She also sites her own team’s scientific findings that while it is impossible to stop ageing altogether, there are several ways to slow down the process.
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She explained that all the cells in our bodies carry chromosomes that are capped at either end by ‘telomeres’ – these help protect the chromosomes. But telomeres wear down over time and eventually fall off – which results in showing signs of ageing.
But there is good news! According to the study, we do have some control over how short our telomeres get;
Learn how to best manage your stress
More stress equals shorter telomeres, so it’s important to find ways to cope with stress successfully. “Attitude matters,” Dr Blackburn says. “If you typically see something stressful as a challenge to be tackled, then blood flows to your heart and to your brain, and you experience a brief but energizing spike of cortisol.”
Set aside time to meditate
We’ve all heard that meditation is beneficial, but now it’s also been linked to longer telomeres. In one study, researchers found carers of family members with dementia improved their telomeres with just 12 minutes of meditation a day. If you’ve never meditated before and don’t know where to start, try this:
- Find a quiet area
- Set your alarm for 5 minutes
- Concentrate on your breathing – in and out
- If you find your mind keeps wandering, try counting.
Live in a close-knit community
It would come as no surprise that emotional neglect has a negative effect on telomere health. Naturally humans are born to crave human interaction – it’s only life and negative experiences that can lead to a withdrawal from society. But we all need people, so living in a tight-knit community such as a residential aged care facility could make a real difference.
Find your ‘people’ and keep them close
Happy and long standing romantic relationships get a big tick for creating longer telomeres, but long-term friendships have also been found to be hugely beneficial. So put effort into the relationships that matter to you and keep your people close.
None of this is rocket science. Do what you can to reduce the stress in your life, value your relationships and sometimes you just need to put yourself first.
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