A study conducted from UC San Francisco proposed that having a healthy diet, proper sleep and regular exercise, can alleviate effects of stress. This study is the first to show that negative effects caused by life’s stressors that build up over time and increases cell aging, may be lessen by maintaining this kind of lifestyle.
“The study participants who exercised, slept well and ate well had less telomere shortening than the ones who didn't maintain healthy lifestyles, even when they had similar levels of stress,” said lead author Eli Puterman, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF. “It's very important that we promote healthy living, especially under circumstances of typical experiences of life stressors like death, caregiving and job loss.”
Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age. They are combinations of DNA and proteins that protect the ends of chromosomes and help them remain stable. As they become shorter, and as their structural integrity weakens, the cells age and die quicker. Telomeres also get shorter with age.
During the study researchers analyzed three healthy behaviors in 239 post-menopausal, non-smoking women, in one year. These include their physical activity, diet and quality of sleeping. The women gave blood samples at the start and end of the year for telometer measurement. The women also gave reports of the stressful activities and events that happen within the whole year. Results show that those women who had lower healthy lifestyle have notably bigger decrease in telomere length in their immune cells for every great life stressor that occurred within the year. However, those women who maintain active and healthy lifestyle, proper diet and good amount of sleep resulted to be more protected when exposed to stress. It did not appear to cause to greater shortening amidst accumulated life stressors.
“This is the first study that supports the idea, at least observationally, that stressful events can accelerate immune cell aging in adults, even in the short period of one year. Exciting, though, is that these results further suggest that keeping active, and eating and sleeping well during periods of high stress are particularly important to attenuate the accelerated aging of our immune cells,” said Puterman.
In recent years, shorter telomeres have become associated with a broad range of aging-related diseases, including stroke, vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis diabetes, and many forms of cancer.
Research on telomeres, and the enzyme that makes them, telomerase, was pioneered by three Americans, including UCSF molecular biologist and co-author Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD. Blackburn co-discovered the telomerase enzyme in 1985. The scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for their work.
“These new results are exciting yet observational at this point. They do provide the impetus to move forward with interventions to modify lifestyle in those experiencing a lot of stress, to test whether telomere attrition can truly be slowed,” said Blackburn.
We encounter several stress causing activities every day, which may include job stress, unpaid bills, errands to get done within a limited time and the like. But living a healthy lifestyle will surely reduce the risk. Living a healthy lifestyle is quite hard to be achieved especially for young individuals. But sooner, effects of stress will come out and that’s the time we will realize how important it is to live with good and proper behavior and lifestyle. Have a proper diet, consuming right amount of healthy food and drinking plenty of water daily. Good amount of sleep is a good aid against irritation, which is also a stress causing factor. And most of all, regular exercise is highly suggested
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