Balancing our fatty acids is associated with longer telomeres -- the things that protect our chromosomes from breaking down.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/Flickr
PROBLEM: It's an eternal and irreversible certainty that as we get older, our telomeres shorten. Every time a cell divides, a bit of the chromosomal end-piece is clipped off, our DNA diminishing in length; aging, cancer, and our ultimate demise following closely behind. If we can't preserve our fleeting youth, can we at least save our telomeres? And -- let's be honest, here -- can we do so without making any major lifestyle changes?
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METHODOLOGY: Researchers at Ohio State University put adults (over one hundred of them, middle-aged and older, mostly overweight but otherwise healthy) on a four month regimen of already-known-to-be-good-for-us omega-3 supplements. The pills, derived from cold-water fish like salmon and cod, were administered in two different doses, while a control group received placebos.
RESULTS: Members of both groups given the real stuff had longer telomeres than the sugar pill group -- a promising sign. But differences in telomere length reached statistical significance when looked at as a function of the lowered ratios
of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 in the experimental groups' blood.