What Telomeres and Your Mindset Have in Common
Telomeres are DNA stretches that extend from the ends of protein-coding genes. Functionally, telomeres resemble the plastic tips at the ends of a shoelace, known in the trade as aglets. When an aglet fails, the woven threads at the tips of the shoelace unwind and become frayed, which impairs its function. How many times has your patience been tried guiding a fat, frayed shoelace into a teeny, tiny eyelet?
Telomere extensions physically prevent the DNA double helix from unwinding. This is an important function because structurally unstable, “frayed” DNA comprises the coded information to assemble a functional protein. Cell biologists have identified a special enzyme called telomerase whose function is to extend telomere length. Telomerase activity is the molecular equivalent of the “fountain of youth” because it replenishes telomeres that increase the vitality and reproducibility of stem cells. Telomerase activity enhances health and extends life.
But there is a catch! Life experiences can stimulate or suppress telomerase activity. For example, stressful prenatal developmental experiences, childhood abuse (both verbal and physical), domestic violence, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), nutritional deficiencies and lack of love all inhibit telomerase activity. These factors contribute to the onset of disease and a shortened life span.
In contrast, exercise, good nutrition, a positive outlook on life, living in happiness and gratitude, being in service, and experiencing love, especially self-love, all enhance telomerase activity and promote a long and healthy life. In fact, a recent Canadian study found that breast cancer patients who were involved in a support group and mindfulness meditation preserved telomere length while telomeres of a control group without those interventions became shorter.
The primary influence controlling telomerase activity is the mind. And Yes…we can consciously empower ourselves by actively enhancing our own telomerase. The importance of telomeres and telomerase in cancer and aging was so important that the Nobel Prize was awarded in 2009 to the discoverers.
Calm your mind and let your soul talk to you. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found via a quantum leap.