Just like the tip of a shoelace keeping the threads of the lace from fraying, a telomere keeps the chromosomes from fraying, too. A properly functioning telomere will keep chromosomes healthy, which allows them to reproduce cells.
But if you are worn down by stress, your telomeres will break down. "And then guess what? You can't reproduce your cells anymore," Dr. Oz says. "And when you can't reproduce cells, you're old and you're frail."
Dr. Oz says telomeres contain new information about aging that is vitally important. While doctors used to think that only certain organs could rebuild themselves, they now know that all our organs can be replenished with new cells if we have functioning telomeres.
"Aging is not about avoiding breakagethat's not what it's about. Aging is about repairing what's broken," he says. "When you lose the ability to repair, you become frail."