The secret to a longer, youthful life may be found at the cellular level by maintaining healthy telomeres. Telomeres (DNA sequences located at the end of chromosomes) protect our chromosomes and may delay biological aging and enhance longevity. Astragalus extracts have been shown to activate telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes telomeres.
The Nobel telomere
The 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Dr. Carol Greider, and Dr. Jack Szostak for discovering how telomeres, by means of the enzyme telomerase, protect chromosomes from degradation during cell division. Like the tips on the ends of shoelaces, telomeres cap the fragile ends of our chromosomes that contain the tightly coiled DNA molecule strands encoding our precious genetic information.
Healthy telomeres mean healthy cells
In a lifetime our cells divide and replicate approximately 50 to 70 times, producing new identical cells to maintain health. During repeated cell division or oxidative damage, telomeres slightly shorten to protect the DNA strands. Telomerase maintains the length of these protective ends. Without telomerase the telomeres severely shorten, and over time cells age and die. Therefore, telomere length may be an essential biomarker of aging, disease risk, and early mortality.
Telomere length and longevity
Several studies have revealed that shorter telomere length is associated with age-related diseases including heart disease, hypertension, dementia, and osteoporosis, as well as obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
Additionally, recent research by scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York discovered a link between telomere length, healthy aging, and exceptional longevity in humans.
Furthermore, out of the 1,136 Cardiovascular Health Study participants, those with the shortest telomeres had a 60 percent increased risk of mortality compared to those with longer telomeres, suggesting that telomere length influences human health and longevity.
Telomeres and rejuvenated skin
Skin aging includes wrinkle formation, hair greying, and impaired wound healing. As self-renewing tissue constantly exposed to oxidative damage, the skin continuously undergoes extensive proliferation and regeneration. Telomeres in skin cells are specifically vulnerable to accelerated shortening. Researchers hypothesize that stimulating telomerase activity will maintain telomere length and ameliorate skin fitness.
Astragalus stimulates telomerase activity
Astragalus is a medicinal Chinese plant traditionally used to strengthen the immune system and increase vitality. Recent cell culture and animal studies have demonstrated that astragalus root extracts such as astragalosides and cycloastragenol stimulate telomerase activity, slow telomere degradation, and even elongate damaged telomeres.
Researchers hope that astragalus extracts will effectively reverse the aging of cells, enhancing youth, wellness, and longevity. Research continues to investigate the link between telomeres and the antiaging potential of astragalus.