People who eat diets rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and fish generally have a strong and healthy immune system that is fueled by the nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants found in the foods they eat. Nutritious foods have the ability to boost your health and preserve your DNA, and in some cases, can even help repair your damaged DNA.

As you begin to age, your body may start to accumulate a higher number of damaged cells and molecules that can interfere with the DNA repair process – and the function of telomeres.

Telomeres are small caps on the ends of your chromosomes that play a vital role in the aging process. When your telomeres become damaged or impaired as a result of poor nutrition and health, your telomeres shorten – contributing to the aging process. Therefore, if you fail to take care of your body, the damaged state of your telomeres can cause you to age at an accelerated rate. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you eat a diet rich in the minerals and antioxidants your body needs to ward off illness and lengthen telomeres.

Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals your body needs to repair DNA and lengthen telomeres. Magnesium deficiency is extremely common in the United States, and several  studies have proven that magnesium deficiency can cause telomeres to shorten while also inhibiting the replication of healthy cells. To enhance DNA and the function of telomeres, a person’s daily magnesium intake should be between 400 and 800 mg per day.

Zinc

Like magnesium, zinc is also linked to DNA repair, but is also involved in the DNA binding process. Zinc deficiencies can cause DNA strands to break, eventually leading to shortened telomeres. To boost these DNA functions, women should take between 15 and 50 mg of zinc per day, whereas men may take up to 75 mg of zinc per day. Furthermore, those who also want to enhance brain function can take carnosine, which is an antioxidant that contains ample amounts of zinc that has also been shown to slow the rate of the depletion of telomeres.

In addition to magnesium and zinc, vitamins C and E also contain antioxidant properties that play a major role in DNA repair and the lengthening of telomeres.

Considering how the aging process can trigger a number of health complications if diet, nutrition, and overall health are not managed, it’s important to start practicing healthy living as early on in life as possible. By eating healthy, nutritious foods rich in antioxidants, you could prevent your body from experiencing a snowball effect of illnesses that may eventually lead to more chronic and fatal health problems.