Biologist Reveals the Way We Could Slow Down the Process of Aging
Aging is something that can’t be controlled.
One way to prolong it is exercising by which you can add a few more years to your life.
However, we seem to be powerless when it comes to getting older. Nevertheless, this wonderful TED talk from expert biologist Elizabeth Blackburn makes us put these beliefs aside and start considering a new point of view.
She has come up to some conclusions about aging, the way we can control it, and what enzyme is responsible for our bodies to age.
Elizabeth has always been interested in the chromosomes in our DNA, especially in their endings called telomeres. Before she started her research, she only knew that they had an important role in protecting the ends of chromosomes.
She tried to explain this problem in our body:
Our body starts as a single cell, later it multiplies to two, and then to four, and then to eight until 200 million billion cells form our adult body. Some of these cells divide thousands of times and each time a cell divides, the DNA is copied since it carries the most important operating instructions that help our cells work properly.
Some of the telomere DNA though, gets shortened. If it gets too shortened, it falls off and sends the message to the cells that the particular is no longer protected.
- However, some cells never get old and die. They are called Tetrahymena.
- It has been discovered that their telomeres don’t get shortened. On the contrary, some of them even get longer.
- Blackburn found out that these cells have something else. An enzyme that makes them longer, called telomerase. The amazing thing is that your good health depends on the length of your telomeres.
Their overshortening causes the signs of aging. Blackburn claims that there is a story of a mutual connection between the telomeres and their maintenance which could help us slow down the process of aging.
Blackburn also says that the stress we live under is connected to the shortening of the telomeres. So the more stressed we are, the more likely we are to fall ill from disease and eventually die.
So, people could maintain their telomeres by avoiding stress as much as possible. Thousands of other scientists have confirmed Blackburn’s theory that chronic stress is fatal for telomeres.
So what are their discoveries?
They also discovered that attitude matters. People who tend to think negatively and respond stressfully to a stressful situation deal with a higher level of the hormone cortisol which in time kills their telomerase.
On the other hand, people who consider stress simply a challenge, deal with a brief spike of cortisol as their blood flows to their heart and then to their brain. So telomeres behave well thanks to your positive attitude.
It has been discovered that telomeres are very social, too. Being sociable, having long-lasting friendships, being in a long-term marriage, all contribute to the maintenance of the telomeres.