The first action you can do to decrease inflammation is to reduce your weight to a normal weight. This is especially true if you are considered obese, i.e. a BMI >30. Too much fat causes inflammation to occur everywhere in your body. This inflammation shortens telomeres, potentially shortening your life.

The more body fat your body stores, the more telomere shortening you see. A recent study at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences looked at women over 30 who were overweight. Their conclusion was that as women get fatter, their telomeres get shorter. The shorter your telomeres, the faster you age.[1] Thus you can potentially live longer if you maintain a healthy normal weight.

If you can’t do it on your own, get on a good program, such as The True Diet that we offer, to get you off that weight loss plateau.

Eating the right foods, such as in a Mediterranean or Paleo diet are good starts. Studies have consistently confirmed that these types of diets improve your health and longevity. [2],[3], [4] All have similar characteristics: low carbohydrate diet full of nutritious protein foods (meats, fish, chicken, etc.), some fruits, some nuts, and lots of vegetables (and different colors of vegetables).

If you eat more vegetables, your telomeres will be longer. Studies have shown that people who eat the most vegetables have significantly longer telomeres. Vegetables with high amounts of beta-carotene seem to be able to give you the best benefit to telomere length.[5] Beta-carotene appears to be a powerful blocker of cytokine actions to inhibit telomerase.[6]

Good sources of beta-carotene include colorful orange vegetables, such as peppers and sweet potatoes. Grass-fed beef is also high in this nutrient. You should try to get around 1 mg of beta-carotene per day to benefit from healthy telomerase production.

Green leafy vegetables have lots of magnesium and eating more of magnesium-rich foods is linked to longer telomeres.[7] If you don’t have adequate magnesium levels, your telomeres shorten and your telomerase activity reduces.[8] You may also want to take a magnesium supplement since recent studies have shown that you get less than 30% of the bare minimum amount of magnesium from a standard Western diet.[9]

Green leafy vegetables also have folic acid, which has telomere lengthening properties.[10] These include foods such as spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and asparagus. Some beans, such as Lentil beans, also give you lots of B vitamins.

Eating lots of good fish high in omega-3 FFAs can help reduce cytokine activity to inhibit telomerase. In a study following 3000 Greek men and women, those who ate 10 ounces of fish per week had up to 33% fewer cytokines than those who didn’t eat fish.[11] If you don’t care for fish cuisine, consider taking Omega 3 supplements. You should take 2-3 grams of DHA and EPA every day.

Exercising regularly is the next best action. The best type of exercise is interval training type, with short duration and spurts of vigorous activity alternating with resting and stretching.

When you eat too many carbohydrates and gain excess weight, you tend to increase the production of insulin in your body, called insulin resistance. This is a precursor to diabetes and you see an increase in inflammation when you have too much insulin. The more insulin you’ve produced, the shorter your telomeres will be.[12]

When you lose weight, you also look better. Turns out that longer telomeres result in you looking younger too. People with longer telomeres have firmer skin tone, brighter complexion, and better skin moisture. A 10 year Danish study of twins demonstrated that those twins who looked younger than their true age had better health and longer survival rates than their older-looking siblings.

Losing weight also decreases the risk of you developing diabetes. Diabetes increases the risk of developing a plethora of medical conditions that age you prematurely. Telomeres of diabetics are “significantly shorter” than those without diabetes.[13] Even people who are pre-diabetic have shortened telomeres.[14]

Ingest Nutrients that increase Telomere Length

[1] Kim S, et al. Obesity and weight gain in adulthood and telomere length. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009 Mar;18(3):816-20.
[2] Samieri C, et al. “The association between dietary patterns at midlife and health in aging: an observational study.” Ann Intern Med. 2013 Nov 5;159(9):584-91.
[3] Rosa Sola, et al. “Effect of a traditional Mediterranean diet on apolipoproteins B, A-I, and their ratio: A randomized, controlled trial.” Atherosclerosis Vol. 218, Issue 1, Pages 174-180, September 2011.
[4] Stephanie E. et al. “Adherence to a Low-Risk, Healthy Lifestyle and Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death Among Women.” JAMA. 2011;306(1):62-69.
[5] Marcon F, et al. “Diet-related telomere shortening and chromosome stability.” Mutagenesis. 2011.
[6] Novoselova E, et al. “Naturally occurring antioxidant nutrients reduce inflammatory response in mice.” Eur J Pharmacol. 2009;615(1-3):234-40.
[7] Xu Q, et al. “Multivitamin use and telomere length in women.”Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1857–1863
[8] Shah NC et al, “Short-term magnesium deficiency downregulates telomerase, upregulates neutral sphingomyelinase and induces oxidative DNA damage in cardiovascular tissues: relevance to atherogenesis, cardiovascular diseases and aging.” Int J Clin Exp Med. 2014;7(3):497-514.
[9] Ford ES, Mokdad AH. “Dietary magnesium intake in a national sample of US adults.” J Nutr. 2003;121:2879–2882.
[10] Zhang D, et al. “Homocysteine-related hTERT DNA demethylation contributes to shortened leukocyte telomere length in atherosclerosis.” Atherosclerosis. 2013;231(1):173-9.
[11] Zampelas, A., et al. “Fish consumption among healthy adults is associated with decreased levels of inflammatory markers related to cardiovascular disease: the ATTICA study.” J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005;46(1):120–124.
[12] Al-Attas OS et al, “Adiposity and insulin resistance correlate with telomere length in middle-aged Arabs: the influence of circulating adiponectin.” Eur J Endocrinol. 2010;163(4):601-7.
[13] Sampson, MJ. et al. “Monocyte Telomere Shortening and Oxidative DNA Damage in Type 2 Diabetes”. Diabetes Care February 2006 vol. 29 no. 2 283-289.
[14] Adaikalakoteswari, A. et al. Association of telomere shortening with impaired glucose tolerance and diabetic macroangiopathy.Atherosclerosis. Vol. 195, Issue 1, Nov 2007, Pages 83-89