Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mediterranean Cuisine and Telomeres

To understand the connection between a Mediterranean style of eating and telomeres, you need to know what telomeres are and do. It’s complicated but here’s what I understand. A chromosome is a strand of DNA along which are distributed genes (estimates are that your chromosomes contain 25,000 - 30,000 genes). Generally at the time of conception you received 46 chromosomes--23 from each parent--plus an XX or an XY. When cells in your body divide, the DNA (which encodes who you are as a human being) must divide and replicate, as well. Apparently DNA replication does not begin at either end of the DNA strand, but starts in the middle. The telomeres cap off each end of each DNA strand (like the little plastic pieces on each end of a shoelace). These telomere “caps” get a bit shorter with each replication unless they are balanced by the enzyme Telomerase, which can help prevent the shortening. More tomorrow. 

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