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Telomeres – the specialized protein at the end of linear chromosomes – protect important genetic information. These essential human cell parts affect how our cells age — representing our biological age. This biological age is influenced by heredity and a number of different activity-choices from our exercise and sleep to what we eat.

Plant-based diets are one of the activity choices that can have an incredible effect on our telomeres and biological age.

A pivotal 2013 study by Dr. Dean Ornish found an association between three months of comprehensive lifestyle changes and increased telomerase activity in human immune-system cells. Study participants in the plant-based control group experienced a much less severe decrease in telomerase.

Vitamins and Minerals that Make a Difference

With a greater focus on a nutritional spread across plant-based food groups and a near or complete total reduction in meat, intake of key nutritional elements is much more likely to occur. You have to get more culinarily creative and eat more fruits and vegetables when you’re plant-based! 

The Beet says these anti-aging miracle ingredients from nature can be found in the following:healthy-food-background-VBEUHG6-scaled

  • Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Selenium all help in aiding and protecting cell longevity. Found in oranges, guavas, strawberries, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, leafy green vegetables, and tomatoes.
  • Folic/Folic Acid protects against telomeres shortening (i.e., wearing down). Found in leafy green vegetables, lentils, beans, and rice.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids reduce bodily inflammation and corresponding attacks on telomeres. Found in nuts, leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils, and flaxseed.

The Mediterranean diet correlates with longer telomeres and is commonly associated with centenarian populations (such as in The Blue Zones).

A Range of Health Benefits

Telomere-length decreases with age, says Dr. Masoon A. Shammas of the Harvard (Dana Farber) Cancer Institute, resulting in many age-associated health problems such as heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, increased cancer risk, and osteoporosis. 

Specific lifestyle factors like exercise, oxidative stress reduction, dietary intake of antioxidants, and dietary restriction all positively impacted the health of telomeres, reduced accelerated aging, and lowered the chance of risk of disease. “Women who consumed a diet lacking antioxidants had shorter telomeres and a moderate risk for development of breast cancer, whereas the consumption of a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene was associated with longer telomeres and lower risk of breast cancer,” Dr. Shammas said in his findings.

The direct correlation between plants and cell health is amazing evidence of the infinite possibility stored in plant-based eating. Coupled with stress reduction and exercise, plant-based eating offers the power to restore, reinvigorate, and renew our health again and again and again.