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The Great Cellular Divide

Sheilah Fulton

Human: A multicellular organism where cells perform various specialized functions. In the beginning stages of human development cell division occurs and through an intricate process of mitotic development create the authentic – you. What you might not be so informed about is that our cells are innately programmed for death. This is referred to as Programmed Cellular Death (PCD) and is also referred as apoptosis which is a Greek word that means falling off. It is approximated that our cells have anywhere between 50- 90 internal clocks attached at each end of our 46 chromosomes. This means cellular division is a finite process where cells are designed to die off. Our aging at the cellular level is accelerated the more exposed to environmental stresses, reactive oxidative stress and unhealthy diet. The actual part of our cell which influence aging is found on the end of the chromosome –it is called the telomere.

Telomere Theory of Aging

It was in the mid-1960s that a cellular biologist Leonard Hayflick theorized cell proliferation occurs in stages and ends with final stage-senescence. (Mikhelson & Gamaley, 2008) Cell senescence occurs for various reasons such as due to cellular or DNA damage. A plant based diet high in folate, antioxidants (vitamins C, E, etc.) and omega- 3’s help protect our cells. Thus, with fitness and proper nutrition we can prevent the destruction of telomeres. As indicated being overweight, smoking, increased stress and chronic illnesses lead to shortening of telomeres. (Mead, 2008). The stability of our chromosomes correlates with our longevity once a telomere decreases in length so does our lifespan.

** Stay tuned for further articles on telomeres and telomerase

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