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Healthy lifestyle can fight stress-related ageing

Posted on Jul 30 2014 | IANS

New York, July 30 : Typical experiences of life stressors like death, care-giving and job loss may accelerate cellular ageing, but these negative effects may be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well, says a study.

"The study participants who exercised, slept well and ate well had less telomere shortening than the ones who did not maintain healthy lifestyles, even when they had similar levels of stress," said lead author Eli Puterman, an assistant professor at University of California, San Francisco in the US.

Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age.

They are combinations of DNA and proteins that protect the ends of chromosomes and help them remain stable.

As they become shorter, and as their structural integrity weakens, the cells age and die quicker. Telomeres also get shorter with age.

In the study, researchers examined three healthy behaviours -physical activity, dietary intake and sleep quality - over the course of one year in 239 post-menopausal, non-smoking women.

"This is the first study that supports the idea, at least observationally, that stressful events can accelerate immune cell ageing in adults, even in the short period of one year," Puterman said.

"These results further suggest that keeping active, and eating and sleeping well during periods of high stress are particularly important to attenuate the accelerated ageing of our immune cells," he added.

The study is forthcoming in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

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