Telomere length as a biomarker of accelerated aging: is it influenced by dietary intake?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

There is increasing interest in exploring whether age-related diseases can be prevented by dietary means through nutrients or food bioactives, whole foods, or specific dietary patterns. Because of the slow nature of the aging process, biomarkers such as telomere length are helpful for this purpose. Here we update the developments in the area during the last 2 years.

Recent findings

Most data stem from epidemiologic studies, often cross-sectional in design. Recent articles strengthened the link between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and telomere shortening, whereas a novel association between telomere length and drinking coffee has been uncovered. Controversy on meat consumption and telomere length persists, mostly because of the presumed different effects of total meat and processed meat. In general terms, increasing consumption of antioxidant-rich plant foods relates to maintained telomere length. Feeding intervention trials with outcomes on telomere length are few and thus far have contributed little to further knowledge on this topic.

Summary

Epidemiologic studies provide support for the putative effects of diet components on telomere length and on the aging process in general. Dietary associations with telomere length should be confirmed with adequately powered randomized controlled trials.

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