According to the American Heart Association, excessive sodium intake can increase your risk for major life-threatening diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer, and can even cause you to experience puffiness, bloating, and weight gain. Now, a new scientific study is showing that heavy sodium intake can also accelerate the aging process and shorten a person’s telomeres.

Telomeres — the caps on the ends of chromosomes responsible for the aging process — will unravel and shorten as a person ages. Those who practice poor health habits such as eating junk food and failing to exercise regularly will often age at an accelerated rate compared to their peers of the same age. Telomeres will become shorter as a result of the wear and tear these unfavorable health habits have on a person’s DNA.

This latest study, which was led by Dr Haidong Zhu from Georgia Regents University in Augusta, examined the effects of high sodium intake on a total of 766 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18. Dr. Zhu found that the teens who tended to consume higher amounts of sodium had shortened telomeres and BMIs that fell within the overweight and obese ranges.

Teens with BMIs in the normal range did not have shortened telomeres even after exhibiting signs of excessive sodium intake; however, experts say that continued patterns of heavy sodium intake could lead to accelerated aging down the road.

Katherine Jenner, the Campaign Director at Consensus Action on Salt and Health, says that teenagers aren’t necessarily getting most of their sodium from pizza and chips, but from other types of everyday foods including breakfast cereal, sauces, and processed foods. Just like adults, teens and younger adults should form healthy eating habits as early on as possible to prolong the aging process, and to maintain the length of their telomeres.

Slow down the aging process by reducing sodium intake

Reducing your sodium intake can significantly lower your risk for heart disease and early death, and can improve your overall quality of life by contributing to weight loss and improved health.

Here are tips you can follow to reduce your sodium intake immediately:

  • Replace processed snacks with fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Buy fresh produce instead of canned produce
  • Use salt-free seasoning blends when cooking and at the table
  • Choose low- or no-sodium items when buying prepackaged meals and soups
  • Start cooking from scratch and stop buying processed or pre-made foods
  • Stop using condiments and sauces that contain sodium
  • Reduce your bread intake and substitute with tortillas, pitas, or rice
  • Reduce your intake of deli meat or opt for sodium-free meats

Rock Creek Wellness now offers telomeres blood testing so you can measure the length of your telomeres and receive specialized treatment. Contact us today at 913-727-7700 to learn more about telomere testing and about our anti-aging therapies.