Lifestyle Impacts The Length of Telomeres of Chromosomes

Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes. They have been allegorized commonly as the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces, which are likely to get frayed without them. Similarly, without telomeres DNA strands become damaged. They are actually disposable protective buffers blocking the ends of the chromosomes. They are consumed during cell division but are replenished by an enzyme – the telomerase reverse transcriptase.

Role of telomerase –

The main function of telomerase is the elongation of telomeres, which enables cells to increase their replicative capacity, sometimes even indefinitely. However, low expression of telomerase, for example in some normal fibroblasts, cannot maintain telomere length.

Telomerase also shows important roles in stem cell proliferation, as well as reprogramming of induced pluripotent stem cells. An induced pluripotent stem cell is a cell taken from any tissue (usually skin or blood) from a child or adult and is genetically modified to behave like an embryonic stem cell. The mechanism of these telomerase functions is still not completely clear.

Functions of telomeres –

Basically, telomeres function as follows:

1. They cap up chromosome ends principally protecting them from DNA degradation. Their length serves as an intrinsic biological clock that regulates the life span of the cell. In other words, they provide limits on the number of replications a cell can go through.

2. They also protect chromosomes from fusion with other chromosomal ends. Uncapped telomeres are able to initiate the DNA damage and cause end-to-end fusions, resulting in chromosomal instability, cellular senescence and apoptosis (programmed cell death). Telomere repeats are lost with each round of cell replication and most somatic cells express insufficient telomerase to compensate for the loss of telomere repeats.

Lifestyle factors impacting telomeres –

Telomere length, which can be affected by various lifestyle factors, can affect the pace of aging and onset of age-associated diseases. Telomeres are shortened as we age, but telomeres can also be shortened by stress, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and a poor diet.

The following are the common causes responsible for the shortening of telomeres:

Aging – Telomere length negatively correlates with age. Telomere length may determine overall health, lifespan, and the rate at which an individual is aging.

Smoking – Smoking seems to have adverse effect on telomeres, shortening their length. Studies have found that the telomere attrition caused by smoking one pack of cigarettes a day for a period of 40 years is equivalent to 7.4 years of life. Oxidative stress caused by smoking is mainly responsible for telomere attrition, resulting in their shortening.

Obesity – Obesity is also associated with increased oxidative stress and DNA damage. Studies show that the excessive loss of telomeres in obese individuals may be equivalent to 8.8 years of life, an effect which seems to be worse than smoking.

Environmental pollution – Exposure to traffic and industrial pollution can adversely affect telomeres. Reduction of the length of telomeres in a person is intimately related to numbers of years and severity of exposure to environmental pollution.

Stress – The stress is associated with release of glucocorticoid hormones by the adrenal glands, which cause increased oxidative damage to DNA and accelerated telomere shortening.

Unhealthy diet – Unhealthy diet deficient in various macro and micro- nutrients can also result in shortening of telomeres as result of damage caused by oxidative stress. Dietary restriction or eating less has an extremely positive impact on health and longevity. The reduction in oxidative stress by dietary restriction is expected to preserve telomeres and other cellular components.

Lack of exercise – The duration of exercise inversely co-relates with the damage to the DNA and telomeres. Regular exercise has been found to be associated with elevated telomerase activity. Furthermore, regular exercise seems to be associated with reduced oxidative stress and may, therefore, reduce the pace of aging and age-associated diseases.

The bottom line –

Telomeres are significantly affected by age and our lifestyle. Shorter telomeres have also been implicated in genomic instability. The rate of telomere shortening is, therefore, critical to an individual’s health and pace of aging.

The length of the telomeres of chromosomes is the predictor of how we are undergoing the process of aging; they also predict the onset of age-related diseases in individuals. However, they are notably influenced by our lifestyle. Thus we can delay the process of shortening of telomeres by making positive changes in the lifestyle.

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4 Interesting Facts on Umbilical Cords

Ever wondered if there is a relationship between your umbilical cord and the belly button? Of course there is! When you have your little one inside your womb, it needs a life-support system to survive the pregnancy gestation period. This support is comprised of the placenta, the umbilical cord and the amniotic sac filled with amniotic fluid. “The baby’s life hangs by a cord”, as said by Ian Donald, aptly tells the importance of the umbilical cord.

The umbilical cord plays the essential role of attaching your baby to the placenta and keeps feeding your baby. During delivery, the placenta is expelled from your uterus through a process known as the after-birth. The umbilical cord, once your baby is delivered is clamped and cut. The remaining section of the cord heals and later becomes the baby’s belly button.

Nevertheless, most are aware of these common facts. But there are some really fun insights that you probably never thought about:

Umbilical Cords Vary in Length

The lengths of the umbilical cords in babies are variable. However, there is no concrete evidence to ascertain why the length varies at all. Within the full gestation period of 28 weeks, the cord may reach its full length which usually is between 45-60 centimetres in length. In a small percentage of pregnancies, the cord is less than 45 centimetres in length and investigative studies have shown that placenta retention and C-section is usually higher in such instances.

Tangles, Knots, and Loops

Babies in the womb are constantly moving around. A common game that they indulge in is playing ‘loop the loop’ with the cord. If the baby is healthy and the cord remains intact, it does not really pose any risk to the baby. Approximately 35% of the babies born have the umbilical cord wrapped around their necks and 1% of them have the cord in a true knot.

It stops working when needed.

In the womb, the stem cell remains in a temperature controlled environment. Post the baby’s birth, the cord is exposed to cooler air and the ‘Wharton’s Jelly’ within it starts to harden and shrink. Natural clamping occurs that squeezes and closes the blood vessels inside the cord. Depending on the temperature outside of the mother’s body, natural clamping takes approximately between 3 and 20 minutes.

The Umbilical Cord Tissue is full of potential.

Most of us have heard about cord blood stem cells but the new research that has everyone’s attention is on umbilical cord tissue. Many ongoing clinical trials have brought significant evidence forward that the cord blood tissue also contains stem cells that possess the potential to multiply and transform into various cell types, like cartilage, bone, fat, etc. This essentially means that the cord tissue with more stem cells can potentially be used in treating more conditions and disorders.

As Nancy Reagan rightfully said, “Now science has presented us with a hope called stem cell research, which may provide our scientists with many answers that have for so long been beyond our grasp.”

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Why Should You Eat Parboiled Rice Every Day?

brown-rice-in-brown-bowlPeople often question that how come the Japanese are so fit and slim despite eating rice and noodles on a daily basis? While there are numerous reasons behind their physical dexterity, one vital fact is that they don’t consume the regular white rice but parboiled rice. Parboiled rice, also known as converted rice, is the grain that is partially boiled in the husk in order to augment its nutritional profile for added benefits. But what benefits? While there are various kinds of rice grains ranging from white rice to brown rice to black rice, every specific variety has its own advantages. Parboiled Rice though stands a cut above them. Although it isn’t yet officially declared as the healthiest rice (considering there are thousands of categories), it is certainly the most effective one for the following reasons: –

1. Increases Metabolism

Parboiled rice is a great source of vitamin B-9, or Folate. Since our body is dependable on the specified vitamin and amino acids, the compound helps increase the rate of metabolism. Half-cup cooked parboiled rice incorporates approximately 100 micrograms of Folate which is near thirty percent of the daily required quantity for both the men and the women.

2. Amplifies Levels Of Oxygen

Converted rice is also an excellent source of Iron. Half-cup serving of the grain incorporates approximately 1.4 milligrams of the element which is around 20 percent of the daily required quantity for both the men and the women. According to a study, Iron helps our body in sensing the levels of oxygen present in the tissues and furthermore distributes oxygen through our bloodstream.

3. Regulates The Activities Of Thyroid Gland

Utmost advantage of boiled rice is that it provides us with Selenium, a chemical element which help in regulating the thyroid gland via controlling the activities of thyroid hormones and thus, resulting in prevention of chubbiness or getting underweight. Half-cup of serving of cooked parboiled rice incorporates approximately 7.3 micrograms of Selenium radicals which is near 15 percent of the daily required quantity for both men and the women.

4. Prevents Cardiovascular Risks

Parboiled rice also contains Niacin i.e. Vitamin B3 which not only supports the metabolism of the body but also helps the cells in carrying out the necessary chemical reactions to breakdown fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy and thus keeps the cholesterol levels under control. Half-cup serving of parboiled rice incorporates approximately 1.8 micrograms of Niacin which is near fifteen percent of the daily required quantity for both the men and the women.

So, instead of believing in the half-authentic fact that eating rice regularly can make you obese, remember that daily consumption of parboiled rice is favorable for your body as it helps in maintaining good health. Converted rice is available for purchase mostly everywhere albeit it’s a bit expensive as compared to white rice.

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Astonishing Health Benefits of Coconut Water

inbv-coconut-water-shutterstock_2-e1429974436235Coconut water, especially tender coconut water, has incredible health benefits. It is a tasty and invigorating low-calorie natural drink. Here are some of its amazing health benefits.

For a glowing skin

Got dry skin? While skin texture is mainly hereditary, there is a lot you can do to improve it. Not many are aware of the benefits of coconut water when it comes to skin care. The liquid, considered the purest after water, helps skin to absorb water, making it look more young and supple.

Give you an energy boost

It is a good source of carbohydrate and gives you an energy boost. It can also eliminate stomach problems like heartburn, gastroenteritis and acid reflux. This is a healthier choice than any other fruit juices because it is almost entirely fat-free and sugar-free. So you can have it almost every day.

Rehydrates the body

This drink is the best to quench thirst. In case of fluid loss due to excessive sweating or vomiting, this juice helps to rehydrate the body.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Coconut water is rich in vitamin C, potassium and magnesium content and can control high blood pressure. Potassium can balance out the harmful effects of sodium, thereby helps to lower blood pressure. Drink fresh coconut water twice a day and see the results.

Heart Tonic

Tender coconut water is good for your heart. It can lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein or the ‘good’ cholesterol levels, thus reducing heart disease risks.

Improves blood circulation

It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to improve blood circulation. Thus, it helps reduce plaque formation in the arteries and lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Cure for hangovers

This is also a great natural remedy for hangovers. Alcohol dehydrates your body, while this coconut juice replenishes the electrolytes in the body and boosts hydration.

Promotes Weight Loss

Coconut water is an ideal drink for weight loss. It is low in calories and easy on the stomach. In fact, this light and energizing drink has various enzymes that aid weight loss. Drink a glass of coconut juice every day to lose weight. However, do not drink in excess as eventually it may add more calories than you want.

Treats Headaches

Dehydration is the cause of most headaches. Coconut water can supply electrolytes to the body and boost hydration. Low levels of magnesium can cause migraines. This is rich in magnesium hence it can cure migraines. Studies also suggest that magnesium can help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.

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