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What the Heck are Telomeres and Why Should We Care?

Telomeres are a hallmark of aging. Every cell in our body contains DNA, so when our cells divide, the structures at the end of the chromosomes, called telomeres, shorten in length. Telomeres protect our cells; but with cellular division, they eventually become too short, causing our cells to age and stop working. Scientists consider telomeres to be the aging clock in every cell. In addition to cell division, a diet high in saturated fats, such as meats, can shorten telomeres.

However, it’s not too late; a change in lifestyle can benefit telomeres. Research has shown that the following can lengthen telomeres: plant-rich foods high in fiber, anti-oxidants, and phytonutrients; folate-rich foods such as dark-green leafy vegetables, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, whole grains, liver, and seafood; vitamin D; exercise; and having health relationships with family and friends.

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