“The Telomere Effect” — Blackburn & Epel

I have spent the last few months reading this very informative book about telomeres. Telomeres are those DNA chains attached to cells, longer telomeres correspond to longer healthspan, that is, the duration for someone to remain healthy, before they get old and sick. Although all the content is backed by scientific research (and well cited throughout the book), the book is designed for the laypeople. I have next to zero knowledge about biology, and I was able to read through without any problem. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to become healthier with scientifically proven methods.

The book starts out introducing the biology of telomeres. It is the most technical part, but it is not essential for continuing reading, so one may skip the first part of the book if they wish. The book is then divided into 3 parts: how our emotion, mindfulness affect telomeres, how our physical conditions affect them, and lastly how society and personal bonds affect them. Within each part there are a few chapters looking into subcategories such as eating habits and negative thinking, providing detailed examples as well as what we should do to enhance our telomeres.

Here I will list some of the most important suggestions that the authors made, and hope that the readers will start follow some of them. If you are curious about the subject and wonder about the science behind the conclusions, you really should give the book a read.

  • When facing stress, we should try approaching it with a challenge mentality, which can help promote protective stress resilience in body and mind.
  • Increasing our stress resiliency – through purpose in life, optimism, unitasking, mindfulness, and self-compassion – combats negative thinking and excessive stress reactivity.
  • exercising promotes longer telomeres. It’s the increased aerobic fitness that is most tied to good cell health.
  • Telomeres like at least 7 hours of sleep. Try to minimize the effects of sleep apnea, snoring, and insomnia.
  • Eat and drink low sugar, low glycemic index food and drinks, this matters more than weight.
  • Eat the Mediterranean diet: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, low fat high quality proteins.
  • Consume Omega-3: salmon, tuna, leafy vegetables, flax oil, flax seed.
  • Minimize red meat and processed meat.
  • We are interconnected. We are affected by toxic stress, discrimination, and toxic chemicals. A healthy surrounding includes the abundance of green plants, and the emotional and physiological states of those around us.
  • A mother’s severe stress during pregnancy, smoking, and intake of certain nutrients, such as folate, are related to her baby’s telomere length.
  • Parents can support their young children’s telomeres by practicing warm, nurturing attunement.

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