What is a telomere?
Telomeres are at each end of our chromosomes. They’re like the coating on the ends of shoelaces to stop them fraying.
What are they for?
Telomeres protect our chromosomes from damage and shortening.
What’s a chromosome?
Every one of our cells contains chromosomes in its centre, or nucleus. Our cells need to constantly divide to make new cells to replace old ones. Chromosomes ensure that DNA remains intact and is passed to the new cells in perfect order i.e. a perfect copy.
DNA is like our cells’ set of instructions for building us. It stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid.
What happens when telomeres are damaged?
They get shorter, eventually they get so short that the cell can’t divide and it dies. Imagine the chromosome string like a bomb fuse with two burning ends, eventually it burns to the centre resulting in destruction. Or sometimes the ends get fuzzy and fuse with other fuzzy ends, causing a whole heap of cell confusion. Telomere damage and the resulting destruction is a precursor to diseases such as cancer, and causes faster biological ageing.
How are they damaged?
Telomeres are shortened by age, diet, overweight and obesity; smoking, lack of exercise, alcohol, excessive sunbathing, pollution, stress, overtraining, oxidative damage, lack of sleep and all the classic unhealthy lifestyle behaviours.
What can I do to slow the damage to my telomeres?
Eat a healthy, natural diet; maintain a healthy percentage of body fat; don’t smoke; limit alcohol; relax more; sleep more; avoid spending a lot of time in polluted areas (cities included); exercise moderately and frequently.
Why would I want to look after my telomeres?
So you can live longer, be healthier and look younger.