Ninety Year old Joints- JRA and telomere length

ta-65-and-bonus_256Awhile back I sustained an injury that made me feel like I was 90. In spite of all the training supplements and coaching I have done and given I succumbed to a moment of weakness and “went for it” when I knew I should not have. The result was a several torn muscles in the hip and groin area euphemistically known as a “sports hernia”. The injury itself fell right in between the “surgery versus no surgery” boundaries so I elected to rehab it myself.

The rehab was slow and painful and I distinctly remember thinking, “This must be what it’s like to be 90 years old” because for a few weeks every step was painful and every step felt unstable. While I would have preferred to listen to my common sense and not sustain an injury there was an “up” side.

I began to look at what really matters to people who are getting older: the ability to ambulate bipedally e.g. walk! While I still run and work out I now do it from the “what is really healthy” for me perspective. I want to be able to walk stably and far in my 90’s. Running will be a bit less important for me then I suspect.

There is a disease called Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis JRA for short that affects 1 out of every 1000 kids in this country. It is classified as “auto immune” which means these kids are attacking their own joints.

The immune cells in these children are the culprit. As a result of being turned on and immensely over stimulated they are shortening their telomeres at a rate unheard of in normal aging. Simply put the immune cells in these children look like those of adults with rheumatoid arthritis who are 90 years old.  Researchers have now identified premature aging of the immune cells as one of the drivers of this disease apart from strict auto immunity. This opens up potentially new treatments and a huge leap in the understanding of this disease, adult rheumatoid arthritis and even garden variety degenerative joint disease.

One thing is for sure. Different tissues in the human body age different rates. Which part of your body ages depends on genetic makeup, epigenetic makeup much of which may be under your control, and finally environmental factors? The last thing, environmental factors, usually conjures up images of secret hidden toxic pollutants in the food chain or the air and water, but it is far more likely to be things like stress at work, home or lack of sleep.

Take care of your telomeres!

You won’t like how 90 feels if you don’t!


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