Do you mean to tell me that those stinking wild salmon capsules I’ve been taking religiously twice a day for years might really be more beneficial than we ever thought possible? They may even be the elixir of youth. According to scientists, it appears that Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may actually preserve the genetic “fuse” in our cells that determines their lifespan, and thus, how long we live. The findings from research out of the University of California, San Francisco studied patients with heart disease.
The discovery that even fish oil supplements were found to be beneficial helps to explain the health advantages that have been touted for years by those consuming fish. Fish oil supplements are now said to be protective against heart disease, improve survival rates after a heart attack, protect against mental decline in the aged as well as age-related changes in the eye that can lead to blindness. Even rodents who were given a fish-derived omega-3 diet lived one-third longer.
This is extremely exciting news for everyone. But, as with many studies, “the mechanisms behind all these benefits are not understood very well at this point in time. However, this new research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids have a direct effect on biological aging by slowing down the rate at which protective caps on the ends of chromosomes shorten.”
These caps are called “telomeres.” They are made of strands of DNA and work much like those plastic ends on your shoelaces: they keep the ends of the chromosomes that are packaged in your DNA in the cell nucleus from becoming damaged, keeping them organized and contained. Lose one of those plastic ends on your shoelace, and it becomes frayed and impossible to thread.
These telomeres act like fuses. The shorter they become, the more the DNA becomes damaged and the cell stops dividing and dies. The study calls them “biological fuses.” And, how fast these fuses burn varies not only between each individual person, but also between the individual cells themselves. And, this impacts age-related diseases.
The scientists involved in this groundbreaking research are headed by Dr. Famin Farzaneh-Far who wrote its findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association: “The present findings identify deceleration of telomere attrition as a potentially novel pathway for antiaging effects of marine omega-3 fatty acids. These findings raise the possibility that omega-3 fatty acids may protect against cellular aging in patients with coronary heart disease.”
Suddenly, the stench of fish oil in the morning is as welcome as it may be “heartening.”