A small pilot study has found that changes in diet, exercise and stress management may result in longer telomeres, the parts of chromosomes that affect aging - the first controlled trial to show that any intervention might lengthen telomeres over time.
Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age. They are combinations of DNA and protein 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.
In recent years, shorter telomeres have become associated with a broad range of aging-related diseases, including many forms of cancer, stroke, vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes.