Chromosomes and Purslane- An Odd Connection?

Could the humble plant purslane hold one of the secrets to the fountain of youth?

There are lots of studies being conducted on  aging and age related disease processes. Some focus on the connection between aging and the progressive shortening of the ends of our chromosomes. 

Every human cell has chromosomes. Chromosomes carry our DNA that determine our genetic future. Telomeres are the tiny tails at the end of the chromosomes.( yellow below)


“ If you think of your chromosomes – which carry your genetic material, as shoelaces - telomeres are the little protective tips at the ends" explains Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, one of the Nobel Prize winning scientists  for medicine for discoveries concerning telomers -  which pointed to keeping our telomeres healthy.

"They are made of special proteins. During our lives they tend to wear down and when telomeres can’t protect chromosomes properly, cells can’t replenish and they malfunction”

Telomere shortening could be the reason for ageing, not only in the individual cells but also in the organism (our bodies) as a whole.




“An enzyme called telomerase can add DNA to the ends of chromosomes to slow, prevent and partially reverse this shortening”.

Turns out, and studies are on going, that purslane appears to up regulate or boosts this enzyme, telomerase, so may play a part in slowing the aging process in our bodies. 

Dr. Blackburn has written a book ( The Telomere Effect: A revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer) which outlines that stress too,  can affect the length and quality of our telomeres. The authors subscribe to the view that our emotional health plays a part, as do physical well-being. That includes the right diet, plenty of exercise, and sufficient sleep.

She states the importance of a balanced diet with lots of whole foods and vegetables, fruits and grains . Interestingly, also  "having adequate omega-3 fatty acids really seems to relate to better telomere maintenance".

Looks like purslane again, is the perfect choice to tend to our telomeres.  With more omega-3 fatty acids  than any other plant and most fish oils, it well fulfills  this requirement and eliminates the need to turn to a supplement.

 Things and food that cause inflammation in our bodies are not good for telomeres. It could be that purslane's anti-inflammatory therapeutic activity , is another marker that this plant is good for our telomeres.

Purslane may not be "the fountain of youth" but there is no doubt that a diet that includes purslane's nutritional profile is one that is equipped to provide us with some anti aging protection. 



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