Diet, Physical Activity and Premature Aging in Adults.

Diet, Physical Activity and Premature Aging in Adults.


Telomere length (TL) is a predictive biomarker of premature aging. Telomere shortening has been linked to age-related diseases and noncommunicable diseases (NCD), and may reflect the effects of behavioral, psychosocial and environmental factors on health status. Telomere attrition can be affected by lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity. The search of studies included in this review was conducted on PubMed Central database. A majority of studies are cross-sectional, as there is a clear lack of prospective studies to evaluate the individual effect of dietary components, dietary patterns, and physical activity on TL in the long term. The current literature suggests that high adherence to Mediterranean diet (MD), with consumption of antioxidants, fiber and vegetables, as well as seeds and walnuts, is associated with longer TL. The dietary components of a healthy diet, such as carotenoids, vitamins A, C, D, E, polyphenols, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids could help maintain TL. In contrast, a high consumption of sugary beverages, processed meat, and pro-inflammatory diets is associated with telomere shortening. In a majority of studies TL is positively associated with moderate physical activity. The predominant mechanisms through which a healthy diet and moderate physical exercise could mitigate telomere attrition include decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation. We shall not discuss the associations of possible risk or protective factors in terms of causality since the majority of studies are cross-sectional and randomized controlled trials are limited; accordingly, some results are inconclusive. For future research, we suggest evaluating the individual effects of dietary components, dietary patterns and physical activity, considering repeated measurements and exercise intensity, on TL. It is also advisable to include biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation proteins, and to measure telomerase activity.

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