If you could look into every single cell of your body, you would see 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 chromosomes in total). And at the end of each of these threadlike things are telomeres. These small caps protect your genetic information from the loss of cells as the cells divide and prevent the chromosome from fusing to adjacent chromosomes.
Think of them like the ends of your shoelaces, but they are not made of cheap plastic. They consist of a series of DNA segments or "base pairs" that repeat themselves thousands of times. For example, in white blood cells, you start at about 8,000 base pairs at the ends of your chromosomes. Again and again, this base-pair sequence repeats, almost as if you are wrapping masking tape around the ends of your chromosomes to keep them tight.
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But here's the catch. If your cells divide and are about 50 to 70 times on average over their lifetime, then the ends of your chromosomes will not be copied as perfectly as you might think. Each time your DNA replicates and splits itself, your telomere is cut off a little bit (about 20 to 30 base pairs). Also, oxidative stress (or damage caused by free radicals) causes inconvenience and may result in loss of another 50 to 1
That adds up and over time telomeres shrink. And once a telomere gets too short, your cell's DNA stays free. Then there can be a series of unwanted biological actions.
Your broken DNA might try to repair itself by either copying the sequence of another DNA molecule that looks like this, or by fusing two "cap-less" chromosomes together.  RELATED: Jillian Michaels & # 39; Total Body Shred
Both are not always a bad thing and both can do the trick temporarily. However, when two chromosomes fuse together, the cell can either die or become genetically abnormal. In the latter case, your abnormal cells continue to divide and become potentially dangerous.
But that's not all. When the caps detach from your chromosomes, your cells will not be able to divide. Instead, they die or become aging cells – basically, these are zombie cells that sit in your tissues and secrete substances (such as pro-inflammatory cytokines) that damage healthier cells.
Therefore, the shortening of telomeres has been linked to aging. When skin and pigment cells die off, we see wrinkles and gray hair. The really bad thing is when our immune cells die and our risk of heart disease, diabetes, cognitive decline, premature death and a number of age-related problems increases.
However, it turns out this is just the case A few smart lifestyle choices can strengthen and even extend your telomeres. In one study, participants switched to a diet that was high in fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains. went on six days a week for 30 minutes a day; and practiced stress busting techniques like yoga and meditation. Over time, their telomeres grew by about 10 percent!
What you should eat
You can not go wrong with a Mediterranean diet (which emphasizes cereal products, whole grains, olive oil, legumes and fish). One of the most recent studies showing the effects on telomeres involved 217 older participants, who were divided into three groups: those who worked halfway with the diet, those who did a medium job, and those who stuck to it on the diet as strict as possible. The stricter participants wanted to stick to a Mediterranean diet the longer their telomeres were.
A wealth of nutrients – including magnesium and vitamins D, B6 and B12 – from foods such as fruits, vegetables and other foods. It has been shown that nuts, legumes, lean meats and fish protect telomeres and keep these caps long and strong. According to researchers from Emory University's School of Medicine, alpha-lipoic acid, found in spinach and tomatoes for example, could stimulate telomerase, an enzyme that repairs and preserves telomeres (but so far only in mice).
It's also been observed that high-beta-carotene foods (eg cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squash, broccoli, even watermelon) could play an important role in keeping telomeres in length. A 4-year analysis of 3,660 participants, ages 20+, showed that telomere length increased by up to 8 percent as blood carotenoid increased.
Even fatty acids are friends of your telomeres. Several studies point to the protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids. Even better, research at Ohio State University has shown that adults who took omega-3 supplements for four months preserved telomere length in their white blood cells-the immune cells that ward off disease and disease.
How to Sweat
Regular exercise not only strengthens your strength and endurance, but also your telomeres. Researchers at Brigham Young University recently discovered that adults who participated in regular physical activity (in this case jogging for 30 to 40 minutes five to five times a week) had telomeres similar to those of people who were nine years old were younger and not trained.  RELATED: Jillian Michaels' Calorie Burning Training
Others have noticed that obesity can alter the age of your telomeres. When researchers at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria examined patients with bariatric weight loss, not only did their BMIs decrease, but they also appeared to have longer telomeres up to two years later. The idea is that excess fatty tissue must expose the entire body to increased stress, which negatively affects telomeres.
Even if you spend all day standing or sitting, you can shave off your caps. A study of 68-year-old sedentary, overweight participants found a difference in those who stood taller than they were. The less they turned off their pistons, the longer telomeres were in their blood cells after six months.
Recent studies seem to confirm that it's not just how long you exercise, but how active you are when you're not exercising part of the solution. A pioneering study of nearly 1,500 women aged 64 to 95 found that participants who were sedentary for less than 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day for more than 10 hours a day had shorter telomeres. In fact, telomere length in the white blood cells of sitting women was found to be on average 170 base pairs shorter than the telomere length in cells of the least sedentary women, which made them biologically older by 8 years.
It's not just about physical effort. There is much research into meditation and other stress-relieving forms of activity that can positively affect telomere maintenance. One of the most surprising studies was attended by 39 family members of dementia (mean age 60) who had two options: either practicing Kirtan Kriya, a kind of meditation with singing, or listening to relaxing music for only twelve minutes for eight weeks. Those who opt for music have improved their telomerase activity by 3.7 percent – not bad, right? Those who chose to chant and meditate improved their telomerase activity by as much as 43 percent.
Excerpt from THE 6 KEYS by Jillian Michaels with Myatt Murphy. Copyright © 2018. Available from Little Brown Spark, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group, Inc.
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