Known as ‘the myth buster’ of the health and wellness industry, Fiona Tuck has more than 25 years’ experience in wellbeing including nutritional medicine, skincare and yoga.
When I met Fiona at a health and wellbeing event this year, the conversation turned to ageing and it was clear that Fiona has a wealth of knowledge on the subject – or, more specifically, expert tips on how to slow down the ageing process.
Fiona says that if you want to slow the ageing process, you need to support your telomeres, which are the protective caps that sit at the end of each strand of DNA in our cells.
“Telomeres protect our chromosomes in a similar way to how the cap at the end of shoe lace protects the lace from unravelling,” Fiona says.
“Telomeres shorten with age. In fact, they shorten with each cell division. The length of our telomeres is associated with our biological age as opposed to our chronological age. Shorter telomeres have been associated with increased disease rates and the ageing process.”
Fiona says lifestyle factors and diet can affect the rate of telomere shortening.
Here are three simple ways, according to Fiona, that you can support your telomeres and live a healthier life into biological old age:
“Stress releases hormones from the adrenal glands which have been shown to damage DNA and accelerate telomere shortening,” Fiona says. “Look to incorporate relaxation exercises such as meditation, yoga, walks, regular short breaks, and time with friends and family.”
Avoid eating highly processed foods on a daily basis and eat a diet based on wholefood healthy eating principles, high in antioxidants and fibre. “Studies have found a positive correlation between longer telomeres and fibre and anti-oxidant intake,” Fiona says. “Fibre helps to remove damaging toxins from the body and antioxidants help to protect the cells from damage.”
Fiona says a predominately plant-based diet containing high levels of folate, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D along with fibre and antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium) supports longer telomeres.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
“Also, look for supplements with grapeseed extract acerola cherry, inulin, zinc for immune function, and sacha inchi for fibre, essential fatty acids and antioxidants,” Fiona says.
Moderate exercise can reduce harmful fats in the body and help get rid of toxic waste products thereby supporting DNA and telomere length. Walking, swimming, and gym classes can all be beneficial, however, Fiona says we should avoid excessive exercise such as high intensity running, marathons or workouts for over an hour. “These can accelerate the stress response within the body,” she said.
“Short, regular bursts of exercise are more beneficial.”