Mum knew best after all

THE TROUBLE with the aging process is that you don’t really start thinking about it until you are older. And by then it may be too late to do anything about it.

Nobel Laureate Elizabeth H Blackburn was in town recently to talk about her research into telomeres. These are the protective tips of chromosomes that help stabilise the genetic information of the body. It seems telomeres shorten as we grow older and this erosion process is linked to major chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancers and heart problems. Latest studies show also that chronic psychological stress exacerbates telomere shortening and therefore can hasten death.

Professor Blackburn, born in Tasmania but now living in California, is looking to reverse or slow down the shortening process in telomeres and as a result, slow down the aging process.

Sounds good to me.

I was particularly taken with her comment during a radio interview when asked what we can do to help ourselves. Nothing much has changed, replied the good professor. Our Mums and Grandmums told us to eat vegetables and fruit, to take exercise, and not to over-indulge, she recalled. And that’s exactly what the current research is showing, she said.

The comments came in the same week that the Australian Bureau of Statistics released research about Australia’s eating habits, the first such survey in 15 years.

It was a big survey – 12,000 people – and the results were alarming.

Apparently, we’re eating 30 per cent less fruit and vegetables than 15 years ago. One in four adults have no vegetables on the plate on an average day. And only seven per cent are eating the recommended five servings on a daily basis.

So there you are. I always said Mum knew what she was talking about. Shame I didn’t listen too often.

Len Horne

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