Researchers have indicated that healthy living and a low-stress lifestyle may slow the effects of aging. According to a recent study published by the University of California, San Francisco, a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and good sleeping habits may contribute to a reduction in the effects of stress on the body.
"The study participants who exercised, slept well and ate well had less telomere shortening than the ones who didn't maintain healthy lifestyles, even when they had similar levels of stress," said lead author Eli Puterman, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF. "It's very important that we promote healthy living, especially under circumstances of typical experiences of life stressors like death, caregiving and job loss."
Telomeres are the "caps," combinations of DNA and proteinsat the end of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age. They shorten with age, as well as during times of stress.
Examining 239 post-menopausal women, the study took blood samples to measure telomere levels over a 12-month span, while having the women report on the stressful situations they encountered during that time. Across the board, the participants who engaged in less healthy behavior had a greater decline in telomere length than those who maintained active lifestyles and healthy diets.
Puterman noted that, as the first study of its kind, the results were exciting, as they indicated the importance of exercise, diet and a full night's rest in handling stress and appearance. Furthermore, this was the first study to link stress to telomere shortening, animportant observation forhuman health.
"These new results are exciting yet observational at this point. They do provide the impetus to move forward with interventions to modify lifestyle in those experiencing a lot of stress, to test whether telomere attrition can truly be slowed," noted the study's co-author, Elizabeth Blackburn, a molecular biologistat UCSF. Blackburn discovered thetelomerase enzyme in 1985.
In addition to affecting the aging of skin, telomere shortening has been linked to a number of health conditions, includingstroke, vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes and many forms of cancer. Further studies in this field could have a significant impact on the health industry and people's lifestyle choices.
Thestudy was published inMolecular Psychiatry.
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