Researchers from the University of Washington have found a weak link between leukocyte (white blood cell) telomere length and increased risk of mortality in aging humans. In their study Leukocyte Telomere Length and Mortality in the Cardiovascular Health Study, they examined telomere length measurements from 1136 study participants and found that those with telomere lengths in the lower quartile (bottom 25%) were statistically more likely to die than those with telomeres in the longest quartile (top 25%). Interestingly, they also found that African Americans have significantly longer leukocyte telomere length after adjusting for differences in age and gender.
This is not the only study to note that oxidative and inflammatory damage appears to shorten telomeres. A study on telomere length in patients with periodontitis (dental gum disease) found that those with the disease suffer shorter leukocyte telomere length. Chronic viral infections such as HIV, hepatitis, and cytomegalovirus have often been linked to shortened telomere length, so it’s not surprising that bacterial infections such as periodontitis that put a load on the immune system may cause similar shortened telomeres.
A study on leukocyte telomere length in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) found that it appears the accelerated aging and shorter lifespans associated with depression may indicate worsened oxidative damage from lengthy bouts of depression.
For the general public, such studies mean there’s good reason to believe that keeping your telomeres longer may help you live a longer life. It’s another data point that backs the usage of telomerase activators such as TA-65. Unfortunately, telomerase activators are still rather expensive, probably prohibitively so for most people.
So what’s a not-so-rich person to do? Fortunately, you can follow the following suggestions at a much lower cost and get health benefits that TA-65 and other telomerase activators do not offer while slowing down the rate of your telomere shortening. Even if you can afford TA-65, the following is still good advice.
Multivitamins and Antioxidants Can Help Keep Telomeres Long
Part of the answer to keeping your telomeres long is to slow down the rate at which the body has to multiply cells to repair accumulating damage. Multivitamin users tend to have longer telomere length which is probably because their higher levels of antioxidants help prevent oxidative damage and reduces the need for cell division (which shorten telomeres) to repair damaged cells. My previous article Vitamins B12, C, and E May Increase Telomere Length discussed findings about how multivitamin users have longer telomeres.
Consuming high quantities of antioxidants via a diet plentiful in fruits and vegetables is a good starting point, but it’s probably not enough for optimal health. Adding varied antioxidant supplements including vitamin C, vitamin E (particularly mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols including more than just the alpha tocopherol form found in most multivitamins), quercetin, resveratrol, carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), CoQ10 (preferably the ubiquinol form), idebenone, lycopene, lutein, and many others may help further lower the level of oxidative damage throughout the body.
TA Sciences, the vendor selling TA-65, is fully aware of the health benefits of the multivitamins and antioxidants as they sell supplemental nutrition packs for TA-65 customers with a wide range of nutrients including most of those I’ve listed above plus many more.
Could Oral Probiotics Help Keep Telomeres Long?
The study on the link between telomere length and periodontitis offers another interesting possibility of using oral probiotics to reduce the immune system load caused by gum disease and cavities. Many studies have shown links between poor dental health and cardiovascular disease and mental illness. Most ascribe this link to inflammation.
Certainly reducing the disease load in the mouth will help lower inflammation levels. It’s also likely to help lower levels of oxidative damage because many of the mechanisms the immune system uses to destroy invading microorganisms rely upon the use of oxidative reactions.
Obviously frequent brushing and flossing are good first steps. But in my experience, they are not enough for optimal dental health.
Based upon my own personal experience with oral probiotics reversing periodontitis, I’d strongly recommend going beyond the usual two or three times daily brushing, flossing, and use of dental rinses and adding in an oral probiotic tablet at bedtime. It will help load up your mouth with good bacteria that fight off those that cause periodontitis and cavities. As a result, the buildup of bacteria-laden plaque is greatly reduced and your immune system doesn’t have to go into overdrive in your mouth to fight the creepy cavity-causing bacteria that are overgrowing the healthy bacteria.
I like the Life Extension Advanced Oral Hygiene mint lozenges a lot and believe the savings in dental care can more than pay for the cost of the probiotic lozenges. The first difference you’ll probably notice is that your mouth feels far more clean and fresh the next morning after taking one at bedtime. After several months of using them, I believe it is likely your dental hygienist will also notice a difference on your next dental cleaning and exam. If you’ve suffered from bad periodontitis and need dental cleanings every three months rather than the more typical sixth months for people with healthier mouths, after a year or so of using oral probiotics I think it’s likely you’ll be able to get back to a more typical cleaning schedule and the savings from two fewer dental cleanings a year should more than cover the cost of the oral probiotics.
For those who do not like mint, a strawberry flavored product with a different mix of probiotics is Swanson Health Products Oral Probiotic Formula. It seems to be more palatable to children in particular.
Don’t Forget Your Vitamin D!
Almost everybody who doesn’t work or spend many hours each day outdoors is deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly tied to diseases started or aggravated by inflammation including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and neurodegenerative diseases. Adding vitamin D supplements is probably the only practical way for most people to get enough vitamin D as there’s far too little in even enriched dairy products to reach optimal levels. Fortunately, vitamin D3 supplements are very inexpensive. You can read more about how to get your vitamin D levels up to snuff in Adjusting Your Vitamin D Intake to Optimal Levels.
Smoking tobacco products is a major health hazard as everybody knows. Smoking has been found to cause accelerated aging and shortening of telomeres. If you are a smoker, quit and use the savings to fund a better diet and supplement program to improve your health.
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