Would you believe me if I told you that you could get younger this year? It’s true. Of course you can’t change your chronological age – the difference between the date you were born and today’s ever advancing date – but we can lower our biological age. Our biological age is determined at the cellular level, and predicts how quickly or slowly we will succumb to age related conditions.

Gauging Biological Age
There are numerous ways to gauge biological age and telomere length seems to be one of the most useful. Telomeres are the extremes ends of your chromosomes. All of the genetic material in each cell of your body is packaged into chromosomes. The tips of the chromosomes are made up of special DNA that is often likened to the plastic cap on the end of a shoelace. Longer telomeres mean slower biological aging. Shorter telomeres predicts earlier onset of age-related conditions.

Combatting the Aging Process
Telomeres tend to shorten with age, but not altogether irreversibly. The good news is that you can lengthen your telomeres, effectively getting younger from a physiological standpoint. One way to do this is through exercise. People who engage in regular exercise age slower, especially later in life. In other words, the age-defying effect of physical activity seems to be even more impactful in our later years.

Consuming more omega-3 essential fatty acids is also known to be a fountain of biological youth. A recent study showed that most overweight but healthy middle-aged and older adults who took an EPA/DHA fish oil combination for four months altered their ratio of their fatty acid consumption in a way that helped preserve their telomeres. Taking roughly two grams of fish oil daily has been shown in clinical trials to slow aging, compared to placebo. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, and researchers suggest this might be the key mechanism by which fish oil helps combat the aging process. Omega-3 supplementation also reduces oxidative stress, protecting against the effects of free radicals.

Aging Skin Deep
From an esthetic perspective, telomere shortening may contribute to skin thinning, with less collagen being produced over time. While not counteracting the aging process itself, collagen supplements can potentially offset some of the ravages of time by restoring skin collagen levels and plumping skin texture. Since collagen is a key component of cartilage, expect some benefit for creaky joints as well.

References:
Farzaneh-Far R, Lin J, Epel ES, Harris WS, Blackburn EH, Whooley MA. Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. 2010;303(3):250. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2008.
Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, Malarkey WB, Hwang BS, Glaser R. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation in healthy middle-aged and older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2012;26(6):988-995.

About the Author: Dr. Kate Rhéaume

Dr. Kate Rhéaume

Dr. Kate Rhéaume, ND is a graduate and former faculty member of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. She is the author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life (HarperCollins).