There is evidence to suggest that shorter telomeres are associated with increased inflammation. People with short telomeres have high levels of several factors that cause inflammation, specifically interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alphs).[1] These compounds are known as cytokines which cause inflammation. Cytokines have been shown to block telomerase, the enzyme that rebuilds your telomeres. [2], [3] (See “Telomere Length: Extend your Lifespan”to learn more about telomerase)

Inflammation is most likely the root cause behind degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. This is such an important topic that TIME magazine dedicated a review of inflammation as a “Killer”. It has the ability to destroy tissues in its zeal to try to help heal tissues from damage. If we can decrease the development of inflammation, we can therefore decrease the risk of developing degenerative problems.

Since short telomeres are associated with worse inflammation, the key therefore is to keep your telomeres longer to decrease inflammation, which would therefore decrease your risk of developing these many degenerative diseases.

Inflammation occurs when your immune system becomes inefficient and overzealous, resulting in injury to your tissues. The question is which one came first? Did your telomeres get shorter, resulting in worsening inflammation? Or did the inflammation cause a shortening of your telomeres? The answer is still pending. For now, we should act on both to give us better health: actions to lengthen your telomeres and those that decrease inflammation.

Here is some ammunition that you can do today to boost your immunity and fight inflammation, resulting in less cytokine activity, less blocking of telomerase activity, and thus to potentially lengthen your telomeres.

Take Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Everyone should be taking Omega-3 free fatty acids of DHA and EPA, around 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg twice a day. This is a natural oil found in fish and some plants. Omega-3 FFAs are possibly the best nutrient to fight against cytokines. Studies show that if you ingest more of these, particularly DHA and EPA, you produce fewer of these inflammation inducer cytokines.[4] This decrease in inflammation may be the reason why they decrease the risk of developing degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Many people are fooled into thinking that just “fish oil” can do this. However, you need specifically DHA and EPA to do this, and the fish oil you take may not be high in this. Our TureMD brand of Omega-3 has over 1,560 mg of DHA and EPA per capsule in a lemon flavored preparation that doesn’t give you that “burpy fish taste” that others do. Taking one capsule twice a day is easy and palatable.

Take Curcumin

Taking potent immune boosters enhance your immunity efficiency. One powerful immune booster is Curcumin (Tumeric curcumin). The active ingredient is curcuminoids and it is derived from the spice curry. It is used extensively in India and the incidence of many degenerative disease there, such as Alzheimer’s disease, is very low compared to the U.S. [5]

Curcumin is thought to fight degenerative diseases, including many cancers, by its effect against inflammation.[6] Its anti-tumor actions have been observed for many cancers including colon, breast, head and neck, lung, and prostate cancer.[7] All have a unified mechanism of action: decrease in inflammatory compounds.[8] Decreasing inflammation is key to keeping your telomeres longer.

You could eat curry to get the benefits of curcumin, but you’d have to eat a lot of it to help.[9] You would have to eat around 1 ounce of curry spice to get 500 mg of curcumin that’s in a capsule of Tumeric Curcumin (TrueMD) per day.[10] Thus it may be easier to just take the supplement. You should take Curcumin, 500 mg twice a day containing 95% of the active ingredient, curcuminoids, per assay.

Take Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a natural immune booster found in red wine. It works on the genes to boost decrease inflammation and improve the efficiency of your immune system.[11] It has been shown to be helpful in multiple degenerative conditions through its effect on decreasing inflammation[12] including cancers[13], cardiovascular disease[14], cognitive decline[15] and diabetes[16]. By decreasing inflammation, telomere length may also be preserved.

Drinking a glass of red wine a night is now okay to do. It not only gives you health benefits, but also may help in decreasing stress. It has multiple polyphenols that contribute to its immune boosting properties. However, to ingest enough wine to give you the same amount of resveratrol in a concentrated capsule is quite difficult. You’d have to drink around a case of wine to get the same amount of Resveratrol as in one capsule of the concentrate[17].

Thus, it is easier just to take the supplement (and healthier!). You should take around 250 mg of Resveratrol once or twice a day to give you adequate amounts to boost your immune response and potentially lengthen your telomeres.

Take Quercetin

Quercetin is a flavonoid that can help in reducing inflammation. Onions are rich in quercetin as well as other health inducing compounds such as phenols. Studies have suggested that flavonoids may help to prevent coronary disease plus they exert properties to help fight cancer, called anti-carcinogenic properties.[18] It is also found in red wine, green tea and berries. We all remember the jingle, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and perhaps part of the reason for this is the anti-inflammatory properties of this flavonoid.

Quercetin has been used for multiple degenerative diseases, including atherosclerosis (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic fatigue.[19] It also is used to increase endurance and improve athletic performance.[20] The mechanism of action of quercetin to providing these benefits most likely stems from its ability to fight off inflammatory compounds so they don’t damage your tissues.[21] In turn, this immune boosting property may help preserve your telomere length.

You could eat a lot of onions, but your stomach (and others around you) may have a problem with that. Instead, consider taking a supplement of quercetin. You’d have to eat over three pounds of onions to get the amount of quercetin in one 500 mg capsule[22]. The recommended dose is to take 500 mg of quercetin once to twice a day.

Lifestyle Changes for Longer Telomeres: Lose Weight, Eat Right, Exercise

[1] O'Donovan A, et. al. "Cumulative Inflammatory Load Is Associated with Short Leukocyte Telomere Length in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study." PLoS One. 2011; 6(5): e19687.
[2] Beyne-Rauzy O, Recher C, Dastugue N, Demur C, Pottier G, et al. "Tumor necrosis factor alpha induces senescence and chromosomal instability in human leukemic cells." Oncogene 23: 7507-7516, 2004.
[3] Beyne-Rauzy O, Prade-Houdellier N, Demur C, Recher C, Ayel J, Laurent G, Mansat-De Mas V. "Tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibits hTERT gene expression in human myeloid normal and leukemic cells." Blood 2005;106: 3200-3205.
[4]Endres S, Ghorbani R, Kelley VE, et al. “The effect of dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on the synthesis of interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor by mononuclear cells.” N Engl J Med 1989;320:265–71.
[6] Killian, P, et. al., “Curcumin Inhibits prostate Cancer Metastasis in vivo by Targetint the Inflammatory Cytokines CXCL1 and -2”, Carcinogenesis, Aug, 2012.
[8] Ibid.
[11] C Guo, B Sinnott, B Niu, MB Lowry, ML Fantacone, AF Gombart. “Synergistic induction of human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide gene expression by vitamin D and stilbenoids.” Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013, September 14.
[12]Joao Tome-Carneiro, Manuel Gonzalvez, Mar Larrosa, Maria J. Yanez-Gascon, et al.  “One-Year Consumption of a Grape Nutraceutical Containing Resveratrol Improves the Inflammatory and Fibrinolytic Status of Patients in Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease.”  American Journal of Cardiology, April 23, 2012.
[13]Fang Y, Herrick EJ, Nicholl MB. “A possible role for perforin and granzyme B in resveratrol-enhanced radiosensitivity of prostate cancer.” J Androl. 2012 Jul-Aug;33(4):752-60.
[14]Howe et al.  Presented at 24th Scientific Meeting of International Society of Hypertension, 22 Oct. 2012.
[15] Ibid
[16] A Movahed, I Nabipour, XL Louis, SJ Thandapilly, L Yu, M Kalantarhormozi, et al. "Antihyperglycemic effects of short term resveratrol supplementation in type 2 diabetic patients." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013. Article ID 851267, 11 pages. BJ Kumar, NM Joghee. "Resveratrol supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes melitus: A prospective, open label, randomized controlled trial." International Research Journal of Pharmacy. 2013;4:245-249.
[18]Vanesa Benitez, Esperanza Molla, María A. Martín-Cabrejas, Yolanda Aguilera, Francisco J. Lopez-Andreu, et al.  “Characterization of Industrial Onion Wastes (Allium cepa L.): Dietary Fibre and Bioactive Compounds.” Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 2011, Volume 66, Number 1, Pages 48-57.
[21] Comalada M, et al, “n vivo quercitrin anti-inflammatory effect involves release of quercetin, which inhibits inflammation through down-regulation of the NF-kappaB pathway” Eur J Immunol. 2005 Feb;35(2):584-92.