Have you ever heard of the hormone irisin? If not, you're not alone. It's not a famous hormone like testosterone or estrogen. But it's extremely important and could help you stay young longer.
Irisin is the hormone that tells our fat cells that they need to burn energy rather than store it, increasing our metabolic rates. But there's something else this hormone does. And this is what can help you stay a youngster longer.
This hormone also helps protect your telomeres. If you've been a reader for long, you know that I'm fascinated by telomeres. These "caps" on the end of our chromosomes shorten each time our cells replicate. The shorter your telomeres, the faster you're aging and the greater your risk of developing age-related diseases like dementia, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. And, it seems, that those who have higher irisin levels also have longer telomeres.
But why? What is it about irisin that keeps telomeres long?
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These questions have plagued scientists for years. But now they have an answer. And it shows us how we can generate more irisin and stay young.
Since irisin tells our fat cells to burn energy rather than store it, the researchers guessed that our muscles release this hormone as we exercise. This seems reasonable, as the more you exercise the longer your telomeres will be. So if this were true, it could be the molecular link researchers have been looking for between activity level and telomere length.
This new research out of Aston University in the UK is really important for those of us who want to stay young as long as we can.
To determine the connection between exercise, irisin, and telomere length, the researchers followed a group of healthy, non-obese individuals. The team found that those individuals who had higher levels of irisin did indeed have longer telomeres. They were more "biologically young" than those with lower levels of irisin. So there is a direct correlation between the hormone and telomere length.
This means that exercise really is the fountain of youth. As much as we might like to wish it was as easy as taking a pill, , exercise is definitely the most effective way to stay young. But not only that, exercise also helps us lose weight, protects our cardiovascular system, and fights the development of diabetes. So make sure you're getting plenty of exercise every week. Get up and move. Sitting still will make you old and sick.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD