Let’s start by level-setting on a few genetic concepts that will help you understand how certain lifestyle choices and habits can have an impact on aging. You may have heard DNA referred to as the building block of life, as it is found in small packages called chromosomes in nearly every cell of all living beings. And as you may recall from your high school or college biology class, your unique genetic code is carried by the DNA found in nearly every cell of your body, 46 chromosomes arranged in 23 pairs.
Telomeres are the protective caps found at the ends of your chromosomes that protect our genetic information during cellular division. For our bodies to heal and function properly, cells must divide to produce new cells to replace old, worn-out cells. Telomeres allow our cells to divide without damaging or scrambling the cells’ genetic information. A great analogy for telomeres is the plastic tips on shoelaces as they keep chromosome ends from tangling and fraying.