Everyone wants to know the secret to living longer. There’s no telling what exactly helps some people make it to 100, but healthy eating is one thing that sure does help. Some foods, though, could actually hurt your chances of growing older by messing with components in your cells called telomeres.
These little caps on the ends of your chromosomes are key for protecting DNA from damage—many experts compare them to the plastic tips on the end of shoelaces. Thing is, as your cells replicate, telomeres get shorter over time, according to the University of Utah Health Sciences. As telomeres shorten it can trigger cells to malfunction and die, and shorter telomeres have been linked to conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Research has also shown lifestyle factors including diet can speed up (or slow down) the shortening process, which is sometimes thought of as an “aging clock.”
These four foods can contribute to telomere shortening, so it might be best to limit these eats for a long and healthy life.