Functional Medicine and Telomeres: The Future of Medicine is Here Now
Window into our bodies
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to just look in to how your body functions through a window? Or even better, if we could just visually see how our bodies are affected by what we do and eat? Then we could see how certain actions are healthy and will make our organs and tissues last longer, or maybe we will see how smoking and eating the wrong things weakens our bodies. At one time these questions were theoretical. But now in this modern day things are different, what we once could only imagine, we are now very capable of.
What age are you really?
How are you aging? That is the question. Are you aging fast or slow? To answer this question, you have to know your chronological age vs. your biological age. Chronological age is easily determined. It is your age. The missing variable has been determining biological age. There was no standardization to suggest how your body was functioning as a product of age. Traditional lab markers gave at best insinuations about your biological age, but nothing definitive. Yet, with the upsurge of research in the field of genomics, we began to learn about telomeres. If you are not familiar with Telomeres, you are going to want to know them.
What are Telomeres?
In short telomeres are the tips of your chromosomes, or genetic material. They are predictive of biological age. The longer they are the better your biological age. In contrast, shorter equals faster aging. You can now literally determine if your body is older than what the calendar says, or if you are younger.
Without question, everyone wants to be younger biologically than chronologically. If you are younger than your chronological age, you want to maintain. If you are older than your chronological age, you will want to make changes. But how do you know you are doing the right things to help you age slowly.
This is where functional medicine finds its role. At the center of anti-aging and rejuvenation is functional medicine. Functional medicine as the name implies centers on restoring function to the body. As it relates to telomeres, better function equals longer telomeres. Vice versa, longer telomeres equal better function. As an example, take blood sugar. When blood sugar rises routinely, secondary inflammation is created and telomeres are damaged. The prolonged shortening of telomeres also makes it more difficult to control blood sugar. It becomes a vicious circle. Cycles such as this are not broken by a single intervention aimed at symptoms, but rather a comprehensive approach targeting all possible areas of contribution.
Balance is the key
Many things are known to influence the length of the telomere. These include hormone balance, low levels of inflammation, proper exercise, sleep, a good diet, and a balanced nutritional state. The focus of functional medicine is to realign the health of the body. To illustrate this point, a good diet with proper exercise at some point will become limited in its ability to support long term health if you are not getting adequate sleep. The key to preserving your telomere length is balance. Yet to achieve balance, you must equally manage all aspects of your life and understand the interplay that they have. As a paradigm focused on creating synchrony between all aspects of health, functional medicine is well poised to help you protect your delicate telomeres.