What is DNA, why is it important and where do telomeres fit in? What causes DNA damage?

-Jul 15, Sara Palmer Hussey, PhD, Health -

We’ve been focusing on telomeres recently and a couple of our clients have asked about DNA and how it’s linked to telomeres and what causes DNA damage. So, we asked the Cambridge University alumna and PhD behind Lumity’s formula – Dr Sara Palmer Hussey, to explain it all in further detail.

DNA is a molecule containing genetic instructions. It is organized in long structures called chromosomes within cells. Telomeres are the caps at the ends of chromosomes.

What causes DNA damage?

If the DNA of a cell is damaged, by free radicals, toxins, viruses or radiation, for example, it can permanently affect a cell’s ability to carry out its functions, divide successfully and sustain health. 

DNA damage can lead to the expression of age, decline and degenerative diseases over youthful health. Antioxidants are key to protecting DNA. Other substances that positively influence DNA and healthy gene expression are sirtuin-activators. Turmeric and omega 3 fatty acids are examples of sirtuin-activators that switch on healthy genes making normal cells more resilient, and silence disease-promoting genes.

How do telomeres speed up the ageing process?

Scientists have recently identified the length of telomeres, the protective caps at the end of chromosomes where DNA is housed, as a biological clock that controls the rate of ageing. With each cell cycle, telomeres shorten; when telomeres become too short, the cell dies. 

What is telomerase?

In the presence of telomerase, the enzyme that helps maintain the length of telomeres, each dividing cell can replace the lost bit of DNA and any single cell can then divide unbounded. While this possibility of unbounded lifespan has excited many researchers, caution is warranted in exploiting this property, as exactly this same unbounded growth is a crucial step in enabling cancerous growth. 

Which nutrients can I supplement with to slow down ageing?

There are, however, two key nutrients that have been associated with longer, healthier telomeres without interfering with the body’s self-regulation of telomerase levels: they are omega 3 fatty acids, such as those contained in flaxseed oil, and vitamin D.

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