Australian scientist, Elizabeth Blackburn, won her Nobel prize for medicine for her discoveries concerning telomeres, found at the ends of chromosomes. In her new book she tells the story of The Telomere Effect and how better thinking skills reduce disease and ageing through the lengthening of telomeres.
What are telomeres and what happens to them as we age?
If you think of your chromosomes – which carry your genetic material – as shoelaces, telomeres are the little protective tips at the end, here shown red. They are made of repeating short sequences of DNA sheathed in special proteins.
During our lives they wear down and when telomeres can’t protect chromosomes properly, cells can malfunction which increase risks of diseases of ageing: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, a weakened immune system and more.
But the process is malleable. It is happening in all of us at some rate, but the rate can change. Blackburn discovered an enzyme called telomerase that can add DNA to the ends of chromosomes to slow, prevent and partially reverse the shortening of the telomeres.
Can you delay or reverse ageing by taking care of your telomeres?
The purpose of training to increase lateral thinking skills is to build cognitive strength and dexterity. Cognitive strength and mental resilience greatly reduce stress, anxiety and negative thinking.
Better thinking skills are life-enhancing because cognitive strength has been shown to increase the enzyme telomerase which lengthens the telomeres which reduce disease and ageing.