Aging is a cumulative process that leads to undesirable changes that lead to change in appearance and susceptibility to diseases due to a weakened body. Aging has its pros and cons. Aging causes increase in wisdom but comes with some of the problems mentioned above.
Throughout time, people have always tried to come up with agents that can slow down aging process-aging cannot be stopped unless in a fairy tale-with some making sense and helping but must end up being fraud as they may even accelerate the process.
So, is there a way of slowing down the aging or even just stop it and be forever young like Jay Z says in his song? We wish there was but all hope is not lost as aging process can be slowed down. Slowing down is a long process that needs to be started at least in twenties. Before we get to slowing this dreaded process, we must first look at how it happens so as to get our solution from any loopholes that are available or make some life changes.
What causes aging?
Many theories have been put across to try to answer this question with most of them being accepted for at least they have been tested on laboratory animals.
Anging is coded in the DNA.
DNA is molecule that carries genetical instructions. These instructions tells the body on what to at what time or what to do when something happens. The instructions for aging are coded in the DNA. This might have occurred as an error during coding for growth and development. We feel the instructions should have gone to until when humans are fully developed and just forget about aging. But anyway it’s done. The fate has been sealed we can now only look for ways of slowing down the prophesy. In short aging is programmed in the human DNA.
The other theory that has been put across is loss of genetic material during normal development processes. DNA is spooled in round molecules called histone and then packed in chromosomes. This can well be explained using a cassette whereby the tape was spooled into some spools and then packed into a plastic casing. In our case, let the tape represent DNA and the spools represent histone and the casing represent the chromosome.
During cell division, the mother cell splits into two equal cells. Before the two cells separate, the genetic material (DNA) is copied so that each cell can have a copy. During this process the chromosomes split into two. During this process, some genetic material from the tips of the chromosome is lost and the resulting chromosomes have shorter arms. Loss of genetic material means loss of information. After several cell divisions a lot of information is lost and the body slowly ages. To prevent loss of DNA, the tips of the chromosomes are covered with some material that is a bit resistant to breaking. This is called chromosomal end capping. However, this does not fully prevent the loss but just slows it down.
Another cause of aging is due to body producing proteins that attack the same body. This is called autoimmunity. Normally, the body immune system is designed to attack only foreign proteins like those of disease causing organisms. As we grow old, this system becomes distorted and the body starts attacking itself. What happens when soldiers start fighting each other? The army becomes weak. This is the same with human body.
The above causes of aging are very natural and there is nothing we can do about it. The next cause of aging is not related to DNA which is good news because something can be done.
The body is a chemical reactor. During any chemical reaction, some harmful waste is always produced.
These wastes in our bodies are urea and other chemicals which the body is able to remove the body through kidneys, skin, lungs name them.
There is one specific waste we are interested in, the free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals that have unpaired electrons. Let’s look at the body at least for the sake of this article as collections of chemicals relating with each other in the best way they can to keep the whole system alive.
During the chemical reactions, free radicals are produced. Free radicals are chemical moieties (molecules) that have unpaired electrons. For electrons to be stable, they have to be in pairs just like men and women have to be in pairs to make them less reactive. That real couples do not jump from one place to another but stick to each other.
Free radicals in trying to be stable, they attach other molecules looking for protons to cancel them. In the process, the go destroying those molecules since that’s not where they are supposed to be. These free radicles attack DNA and therefore distorting genetic information and already synthesized proteins. This results in change of protein structure and the body immediately responds by attacking the changed proteins leading to aging.
The major contributor of free radicals is oxygen. In the chemical processes, oxygen is converted to superoxides. The body has a way of dealing with these free radicals but sometimes it’s too much.
Free radicals can also result from the foods we eat and ionizing radiation. When fats and oils are heated, they produce free radicals. Fats (solids) produce more free radicals than oils (liquids). Also when fats and oils are reused in cooking (like they do with chips) more free radicals accumulate. This maybe one of the reason why people who feed on chips quite often seem to age faster.
Processed foods also have high levels of free radicals. Sausages, bacon, ham, pepperoni, hotdogs, salami, corned beef and many deli meats. Processing is what causes production of free radicals. Alcohols also produces free radicals.
Heating food using a microwave has also been shown to produce free radicals. That is why heating a baby’s food using microwave is not recommended. The mechanism by which it heats food is what produces the free radicals. Check on magnetron.
The effect of free radicals can be reduced by avoiding them where possible and taking foods rich in antioxidants. Examples of these foods are; Small Red Bean (dried), Blackberry, Gala apple, Strawberry.
Food supplements that are highly antioxidants are cystein and glutathione. These are available in most pharmacies.
Stay off free radicals, slow the aging process.