How Stress Causes Aging
We intuitively know that stress is harmful. Recently, however, science has proven this to be a hard fact. An overdose of stress can harm us down to our genetic makeup. The cells in our bodies are continually replicating to replace old or worn-out cells. Our genetic material is stored within chromosomes in each cell, and when the cell replicates, these chromosomes make copies of themselves. In the early 1980’s, scientists discovered telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, and telomerase the enzyme that rebuilds these caps as they wear down. If you were to envision a chromosome as a shoelace, the ends of the shoelace that keep it from fraying would be telomeres, also keeping the chromosome intact. These protective caps and the enzymes that restore them protect the genetic material within the chromosome from mutation during cell replication. This is fundamental to optimum wellness and healthy aging.
Further study found that people under stress had shorter telomeres and less telomerase, implying increased chance of genetic mutations, disease, and accelerated aging.
Stress clearly wreaks havoc on telomerase and therefore the body, but we don’t have to surrender to it. We can make changes for the better in our thought processes and in our lifestyle:
- Sleep: Give yourself time to restore.
- Eat Well: Stay nourished to cope with life head on.
- Talk Through It: When the stress is traumatizing, consider the guidance of a licensed therapist or experienced counselor.
- Exercise: Get the blood pumping to detoxify your mind and body.
- Get Acupuncture: Numerous research studies indicate that acupuncture reduces stress through the release of endorphins and the decrease of neuropeptide Y (NPY), shown to be elevated in those with chronic stress and thought to contribute to the physiological stress response.
- Meditate: This ancient practice stands the test of time. It allows you to align your breath, body and mind to bring you into a peaceful state.
- Prioritize Your Happiness!