EPISODE 251: The Telomere Effect: Cell Aging, Stress & Mind-Body Practices

Science has linked meditation with longevity through the study of telomeres, the chromosomal caps that are an indication of cell health. By mitigating our stress response specifically, research indicates that mindful practices down-regulate our stress response and up-regulate telomerase production, an important protein for the health of these chromosomal caps. What does all that mean? Basically, it means meditation can make you live longer in the future and live healthier right now. On this week’s Yoga Talk Show, you’ll meet Dr. Elissa Epel, one of the leading researchers on stress, cell aging, and telomeres.

Listen in to learn:

  • How telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of our chromosomes, just like the plastic tip on a shoelace
  • How short telomeres release cytokines or die—both of which are very negative
  • How chronic inflammation (from cytokines) can contribute or even cause diseases and illnesses
  • Why meditation can mitigate stress response and be protective of telomeres
  • Why abuse, violence and trauma can literally shorten your life
  • Why vagal nerve tone can reduce the stress response

Links & Resources:


Elissa Epel is psychologist who studies stress, aging, and obesity. She is the director of UCSF’s Aging, Metabolism, and Emotion Center (AME) She consults to the National Institutes of Health on various initiatives related to human behavior and how to change it, and is on the Steering Council of the Mind and Life Institute that supports research on contemplative practices. She has been studying stress and biology for almost 20 years now.

Nutritional Tip of the Week:

  • Protein

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