The latest, and most likely, program theory of aging is the telomere shortening theory. Telomeres are the end-cap segments of DNA (our genetic material). Each time a cell replicates, a small piece of DNA is taken off the end of each chromosome. The shorter the telomere gets, the more it affects gene expression. The result is cellular aging and an increased risk for immune dysfunction, heart disease,cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other degenerative diseases.
New research shows that curcumin, the yellow pigment of turmeric (Curcuma longa), may exert significant benefit in preventing telomere shortening and may actually promote elongation of telomeres.
The key to slowing down the aging process and extending maximal human lifespan will ultimately involve preserving or restoring telomere length to the DNA (as well as decreasing chromosomal damage, cellular oxidation, and many other factors). Several measures have already been shown to achieve this goal:
- Simply adopting a comprehensive dietary and lifestyle change consistent with good health has been shown to preserve telomere length.
- Physical exercise has been shown to be associated with preserving telomere length.
- Meditation has been shown to preserve telomere length by reducing the negative effects of stress.
- Higher vitamin D levels are associated with longer telomeres
- Since levels of inflammatory markers in the blood correlate with telomere shortening, natural strategies that reduce inflammation are very important in reducing the rate of telomere shortening.