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You may not be familiar with telomeres yet, but in the scientific world, these DNA sequences on the ends of chromosomes are big news.  The research connecting telomeres to aging is so significant that the work was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2009.  What are telomeres and what can they do for you?

Similar to the plastic ends of shoelaces that stop them from fraying and unravelling, telomeres are the caps at the ends of chromosomes that prevent genetic information from being damaged.  Each time a cell divides, its telomeres shorten.  The more times a cell divides, the shorter its telomeres become until a critical threshold is reached, at which point the cell can no longer replicate and dies. The older we get, the shorter our telomeres become.

It should come as no surprise that unhealthy lifestyle conditions – high stress and poor diet – can damage cells causing a high rate of reparative cell turnover. Telomeres wear down and aging process is hastened. Moreover, recent studies have linked short telomeres with age-related conditions including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and cancer.  There is good news, though. New research shows that it's possible for telomere shortening to be reversed by encouraging the production of an enzyme called telomerase.   Early indications show that boosting telomerase levels and slowing down the aging process are possible by simply making lifestyle changes, such as:
•reducing stress
•exercising more
•eating foods that are high in fibre and rich in antioxidants

Just like the cells in our body, skin cells also react to oxidative damage and stress.  By limiting the amount of wear and tear that we expose our skin to, we can slow down the visible signs of aging.  Protecting our skin daily with sunscreen and antioxidants are fundamental to healthy-looking skin.

It's still too early to tell if the connection between telomeres and aging is the key to staying healthy and living longer.  But could this be the proverbial fountain of youth?

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed] 

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