Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Science Proves: Stress Ages You

As if you didn’t already know, right? Well, now it seems that science has discovered a cellular link to the process of aging. They have discovered that the tips of chromosomes have a cap-like structure that resembles the plastic caps of shoelaces. Called Telomeres, these structures respond to stress, and if you are chronically stressed, they can cut your life span short.

Here’s why; in young cells, these telomeres appear to be very long. In the cells of old people, however, they are nothing more than mere nubs. It seems telomeres do play a part in the aging process because further research indicates that every time cells divide, the duplicate cells have shorter telomeres. This process is repeated until the telomeres become less than nubs, and cell division stops.

What’s worse is that chronic stress can speed up this process by shriveling the tips of the telomere bundles of genes inside cells, thereby shortening their life span and accelerating bodily deterioration. There is hope, though. It comes through the research on an enzyme called telomerase. It appears that telomerase can replenishes and protects parts of the telomere each time the cell divides. Unfortunately, the replenishment only seems to slow down the process of telomere shortening; not stop it.

“The highest chronically stressed people in the study group had significantly less telomerase activity, higher oxidative stress and shorter telomeres than the less chronically stressed group,” states Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder of the Stress Institute near Clarkesville, GA. “The key agent that is damaging in chronic stress is the stress hormone Cortisol. Cortisol is the driving chemical in our bodies that orchestrates the circadian rhythm of our body and regulates the flow of all our systems. When we produce more Cortisol from chronic stress, over time it literally exhausts our body systems.”

Now, before you start “stressing” over this discovery and decide to give up and can dash all hope of ever living a long life, remember this; your DNA is flexible and has plasticity. So, if you are able to control your levels of stress, you can successfully increase your telomerase enzyme production level and diminish the impact Cortisol can have on your telomeres. Lifestyle and behavior immediately affects the aging process of your body.

Although you can wage war on aging by getting plastic surgery, buying face creams, body moisturizers, etc., if you are not shoring up these efforts by combining them with good nutrition, hydration, regular exercise and controlling your stress levels, you may never succeed in decelerating your aging process.

So take heed. Stress can kill in many ways, because it affects the entire body on a cellular level. Make time to de-stress; use meditation, massage, biofeedback, or just take time to breathe. Doing so will not only help you live longer, but look better, too.

As always – Enjoy Your Life,

John Aaron Villarreal



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