New Science: Take This to Age Slower, Age Healthier

Omega-3s and Shoelaces

Keep your telomeres intact to slow down cellular aging and keep diseases at bay. Here's how.

Look down at your shoes. See those little plastic things at the end of your shoelaces? Those are called "aglets." If the aglets wear out, your laces fray, making it hard to thread them through the eyelets of your shoes.

In a nutshell, that’s how chromosomes age and deteriorate, leading to all sorts of things, from unhealthy aging to disease.

See, at the end of each chromosomal arm or "lace" is a specialized structure known as a telomere composed of a specific sequence of nucleotides and associated proteins. In effect, it’s one of the chromosome’s aglets. Every time a cell divides, these aglets get shorter. If they get too short, they unfold and fray like an old shoelace, wreaking havoc on your health.

Each cell is gifted with about 15,000 base pairs (the pairs of nucleotides connecting complementary strands of DNA or RNA), and each time a cell divides, we lose about 250 of them. It's called the "end-replication problem." In effect, the chromosomes are being worn down to the nub.

The short telomeres that caused the chromosomal fraying lead to replicative senescence, which means the cell is too old to divide. Genetic instability ensues, possibly leading to cancer, cellular old age, or programmed cell self-destruction (apoptosis). Tissue growth or repair is handicapped. If enough of these cells reach replicative senescence, the organ or system to which they belong might fail, leading to disease or death.

Too bad you can’t just swap out frayed telomeres with a fresh set of laces and reset this biological clock. But there’s hope. Scientists don’t know if it’s possible to lengthen telomeres, but they know we can at least prevent them from shortening with omega-3s, primarily fish oil (Buy at Amazon).

The Hayflick Limit

"The degree of telomere shortening is proportional to the risk of death," said the authors of a paper on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on telomeres. (Ogluszka, et al, 2022)

The authors first had to tackle the question of exactly how telomere length relates to senescence. The news is humbling. They said that all human non-reproductive cells (everything except eggs and sperm) are slaves to the Hayflick limit: human cells can only divide a certain number of times.

In the case of fibroblasts (cells that form connective tissue), they can only divide about 50 times. Once the cells are shortened beyond a critical length, the division process falls apart. Luckily, there appear to be some things that slow down the clock and possibly turn it back, omega-3s among them.

The Studies

Ogluszka offered a sizeable mound of evidence supporting the role of omega-3s on telomere length, starting with a study of more than 600 patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). The scientists found strong evidence for an association between omega-3 fatty acid consumption and telomere length.

Likewise, a Chinese study compared 711 patients with CAD to 638 CAD-free controls and found levels of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA, positively correlated with telomere length.

A study involving forty-six obese 3 to 4-year-olds found that they had shorter telomeres (in leukocytes, aka white blood cells) and lower intakes of DHA than children of normal weight.

Another study showed that telomere shortening in whole blood is remedied by omega-3 fatty acids. Forty-four elderly people were divided into three groups: a diet rich in omega-6s, an EPA group, and a DHA group. Positive changes in telomere length were seen in the group with the greatest increases in DHA levels.

Several rodent studies were also conducted. One studied omega-3s and telomere attrition in rat testicles and found a positive association between the two. More importantly, they found that omega-3 supplementation not only reduced the rate of telomere attrition but also elongated hepatic (liver) telomeres. In short, omega 3s might reverse the aging process.

What Accelerates Telomere Shortening?

Smoking, alcohol, stress, and lack of exercise. All those abuses cause inflammation and oxidative stress, which contribute to telomere shortening.

Inflammation spurs the production of radical oxygen species (ROS) and they, in turn, shorten telomeres. This oxidative stress puts the kibosh on cells, causing the survivors to undergo more cell divisions, thereby getting closer to their Hayflick limit. ROS may also attack the telomere directly, causing breaks in individual strands, which messes up the whole replication process and leads to additional telomere shortening.

Omega-3s, however, are associated with lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers, along with higher levels of several anti-inflammatory markers. Lastly, omega-3s might slow down the rate of cell division, as several studies indicate.

How to Get More Omega-3s

Supplementation is the most efficient route. Otherwise, you'd have to eat a boatload of fish every day and then have to worry about all that mercury you're putting into your body.

Each serving of Biotest’s Flameout (Buy at Amazon) contains an oceanic amount of omega 3s – a combined 4200 mg. of EPA and DHA, mostly the latter, since DHA is the real powerhouse of the duo.

Add to that Flameout’s high processing standards. It’s purified by molecular distillation and stringently tested for PCBs, dioxins, mercury, and other heavy metals. It uses a self-emulsifying delivery system to make it virtually odorless and better absorbed.

One serving of Flameout is more than enough to quell inflammation and hopefully extend the life of telomeres. Take three capsules with your fattiest meal of the day. (Here's why.)

Flameout Buy-on-Amazon

Slow Down Time, or Better Yet, Reverse It

The results of increasing omega-3 consumption are extremely promising, so regardless of whether you do it with supplements or by eating large quantities of cold-water fish, do it. Do it for your chromosomal aglets. Do it to increase not only your lifespan but your health-span too.

References

  1. Ogłuszka M et al. "Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Telomeres: Are They the Elixir of Youth?" Nutrients. 2022 Sep 9;14(18):3723. PubMed: 36145097.
  2. Li J et al. "Health benefits of docahexaenoic acid and its bioavailability: A review." Food Sci Nutr. 2021 Jul 23;9(9):5229-5243. PMC: PMC8441440.
  3. Harris WS et al. "Blood n-3 fatty acid levels and total and cause-specific mortality from 17 prospective studies." Nat Commun. 2021 Apr 22;12(1):2329. PubMed: 33888689.
8 Likes

I’ve been seeing articles on a study that just came out that make some claims about fish oil that were bad. Have you guys seen that?

I wasn’t too sure what to make of it because the study seemed flawed. I didn’t like their methodology.

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NMN is supposed to be really good for telomeres as well. Any thoughts on that?

RicoD, you’ll notice that same study said that fish oil was good for people who already have cardiovascular disease.

This is just my theory, but since healthy people were getting sick and sick people were getting well (just simplifying), I think the problem is with the quality of the fish oil.

People who have heart disease are more likely to take prescription fish oil. It’s higher in potency and more likely to be sold fresh, with a longer shelf life.

Healthy people are more likely to get a huge bottle of cheap fish oil. The oil becomes easily rancid over time and may even be bad the day it’s bought if not properly stored. This changes its properties from being noninflammatory to becoming inflammatory.

An easy way to prevent this problem is to buy smaller bottles, check the expiration date, and bite into one of the capsules at least once a week. If it’s nearly tasteless or has a mild fish oil flavor, it’s fine. If it tastes bad, toss it.

I had a similar take. The study said it asked 400,000 people if they took fish oil and about a 3rd said yes. That is how they went about the study. They took their word for it. Did not verify the quality of the product, how often they took and their other habits. You can take the best fish oil ever made (Flameout) and take it correctly, but then pour pounds of food from McDonalds into your body every week and you will have heart issues.

This did make me think of a question. Should I be putting my Flameout in the fridge? I will try the taste test recommended.

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Not only that, but there tend to be two groups of people that take fish oil - those that are healthy and are attempting to maintain optimal health, and those who have fish oil recommended because they have crappy blood work. You can guess which the larger group is in the US. After all - not having heart disease at the beginning of the study doesn’t mean that folks that are being recommended to take fish oil aren’t already well on their way to obesity, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, etc.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) without proper controls they cannot imply causation - only correlation and even that may not be very strong. Until they control for physical activity, other health conditions, dosage of fish oil, quality of fish oil, etc., these types of studies at best serve to encourage additional research with better methodology.

To answer your other question, I’ve been storing my Flameout in the fridge for about 5 years now, because even the best stuff can go rancid once opened. Pretty sure TC recommended this ages ago, though perhaps not for Flameout specifically.

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