Telomeres Function on Metabolic Health
What do telomeres have to say about weight in overall physical health? As it turns out, the answer might not be what you expect! Research is now suggesting that metabolic health may be a more important factor in your physical well-being. Even calorie counting may not be the best way for you to obtain your highest level of health. Maintaining a healthy metabolism has always been a staple in weight loss and maintenance, it may be even more important than we once thought!
Telomeres are the protective endings of chromosomes, offering defense against cellular damage that may harm the human body, and have been connected to a number of health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. For better or for worse, telomeres are impacted by a number of lifestyle factors, diet and exercise included. But with diet and exercise patterns having a significant impact on weight and metabolism, do telomeres truly care about the number on the scale?
Telomeres and Metabolism
An efficient metabolism is frequently considered for weight loss, as individuals believe in order to lose weight, calories out must exceed calories in. And while that mostly serves to be true, dieting and fixating on calories for weight loss is complicated. According to The Telomere Effect, weight loss:
...slows down the attrition rate of telomeres.
...has no effect on telomeres.
...encourages telomeres to lengthen.
...leads to shorter telomeres.
You may be puzzled on just how weight loss can diversify into such conflicting outcomes on telomeres. And while the set of findings may be discouraging, researchers offer one powerful message...
Perhaps weight is not what truly matters.
And perhaps, just maybe, weight loss is only a mere piece of the health puzzle. But before rejoicing too quickly, it is important to remember that a healthy lifestyle should not be discounted.
What Really Matters
So if telomeres suggest to not focus on weight, what truly matters? Healthcare experts and the fate of telomeres, suggest metabolic health is what matters most, including waist circumference and insulin resistance.
Waist circumference and belly fat tells a greater story than the number on a scale and calculated body mass index (BMI). Although weight and BMI are quick references, they do not consider muscle versus fat mass, or where the fat is stored. Fat carried deep in the belly, muscles, and liver is more concerning than fat stored subcutaneously, under the skin rather than in the muscles, including in limbs. Fat deposited deep within poses significant health concerns, including diabetes and insulin resistance.
Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to break down glucose from carb sources into usable energy, with the help of insulin, a hormone released into the bloodstream, and helps the entry of glucose into cells. Ultimately, too much fat in the belly or liver causes the body to become insulin resistant, implying cells are unable to release and respond to insulin the way they should, causing glucose to remain in the blood. Unmanaged blood sugars and diabetes increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, vision impairment, kidney disease, and many other harmful and potentially fatal health conditions.
Supporting Telomere and Metabolic Health
Generally speaking, belly fat and insulin resistance are caused by poor nutrition habits, physical inactivity, and high stress. Healthcare experts suggest individuals can support telomere and metabolic health with a complete lifestyle overhaul, as well as by dismissing the concept of dieting and calorie counting. Counting calories can be a stressful task, especially when doing so is suggested to be unnecessary, and may be harmful to mental and telomere health. Research suggests embracing a plant-based, Mediterranean diet, spending at least two and a half hours practicing stress-relief techniques, and nurturing relationships and social connections, boast the greatest benefits when it comes to total health, including their links to maintained telomeres.
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