8 things you can do to offset aging
Although I have studied aging as a biologist when I was 20 and probably can say that I have some authority in Gerontology, I didn't even realize I was mortal until I hit 40. How about you?
For most of us, aging is associated with the visible wear and tear like wrinkles on our skin, gray hair, or weakened eye sight as some examples. Sadly these are only the visible signs, but the reality is every cell in our body is aging. We go through extremes using surgeries and Botox to cover up those visible things all along ignoring what’s inside.
There are however, deep physiological benefits to enhancing the visible signs which does improve our attitude towards aging. Experts say that enhancing appearance alone does have an impact on our entire body because it impacts our attitude. So it’s worth investing on the externals for the sake of the internal longevity.
The key is to accept and guide ourselves through a healthy aging path. There are three aspects that we should be concerned with:
- Managing the non-visible aspects through regular healthy exercise and a conscious diet.
- Managing the visible signs naturally when possible. There are natural products that can help. They work, but they take time, you don't need Botox!
- Managing the psychological effects which is also dictated by #1 and #2. The better you look and healthier you are, the better you will feel and the rest of your body will follow that trend.
But let us dissect aging theories a bit. Believe it or not, there is no consensus among gerontologists as to why we age. Here's some of the theories that range from age being programmed to a variety of cell damage theories.
- Genetic Programming Theory
This theory states that our genes contain instructions that say when our life ends, even under very favorable circumstances. Is it somehow built into our genetic makeup that we can only live so long? Does our DNA contain a built-in code for maximum lifespan? There's Darwinian overtones in this theory: perhaps it is designed to prevent over-population. However, there seems to be no basis for this.
- DNA Damage/Genetic Mutation Theory
In this theory, tiny changes in cellular functions accumulate over time to such a degree that the body simply doesn't function as well is it was designed, potentially leading to cellular death. As DNA in the body cells divides (in order to replicate itself), minor breaks in the DNA chain can occur (mutations). Normally, these are repaired by a mechanism that destroys the damaged section and recopies the missing portions. If the repair mechanism doesn't work properly, genetic information can be lost, leading to mutations in the cells. The process only gets worse when the mutated cells reproduce themselves. This accumulation of mutated cells is also known as the Somatic Mutation theory of aging. The damage can also be cause by environmental toxins in the air, food and water.
- Free Radical Theory
Free radicals are chemicals in the body that are highly reactive with other cells. It is thought by some that these processes interfere with the normal cellular functions. Natural anti-oxidants known as anti-oxidants, however, can prevent this from happening. A simple Google search can reveal some of the anti-oxidants you can include in your diet to offset the effects.
- "Wear and Tear" Theory
Perhaps the cells in our body simply wear out, like a machine! This is the "Wear and Tear" theory, and states that body tissues that have the ability to renew themselves lose that ability as a person gets older. There's some weight to this theory, as body cells that can't replace or repair themselves reduce the body's ability to heal itself as well as replace lost blood cells. The problem with this theory is, if biological organisms have the ability to repair themselves, why should they lose that ability? They suspect that genetic damage occurs that starts the whole process.
- Cross-linkage Theory
Over time, the protein in our DNA develop unnecessary attachments (cross-linkages) which can interfere with cell function. As we've already seen, stiffening of connective tissues in the form of chemical cross-linkages causes them to not perform their intended functions properly.
- Age pigment Theory
Age pigments (cellular waste products) tend to build up in the body's cells gradually over time. Theoretically, they would interfere with each individual cell's metabolism, causing them to wear out. In turn that would lead to organs not functioning as they were intended. The problem with this theory, however, can be seen in the most dramatic example of age pigment build-up, lipofuscin in the heart. Even though it makes up 10% of the heart's cellular volume by age 90, it doesn't seem to have any effect on the heart's function.
- Immunologic Theory
This theory states that the body has, with age, decreased ability to produce immune cells designed to fight off infections, leading to organ deterioration.
- Autoimmune Theory
This is sort of the opposite of the immunologic theory. Instead of the body producing immune cells that don't fight off infections, this theory says that immune cells are produced that attack healthy cells. The end result is the same as the previous theory, though: organ deterioration.
As you can see, the accepted theories are all over the place. The answer is no one really precisely knows. However, practice and history tells us that there are a few best practices.
Here are 8 things you can commit to doing now. Try them for 30 days to form a habit.
- Moderation in lifestyle (physical and mental). Think good thoughts and do good deeds. Less is more!
- A regular form of exercise – it’s doesn't really matter what it is and it certainly doesn't need to be over exhausting, but it should be balanced and should most importantly challenge you. Stress your body with a little bit of positive stress.
- A simple, moderate and conscious diet that is variable, fresh and seasonal.
- Surprise your body every now-and-then to keep it alert. You can do this mentally by learning new things like a language or physically, but engaging in some new activity.
- Support your immune system with supplements.
- Take good care of your appearance, clothing and hygiene.
- Change something just for the heck of it, your mental and physical well-being depends on it. Move, buy a new car, travel, and meet new people with a different point of view. A healthy social life and network does just that. Here is something to help you with that from BuzzFeed.
- Take care of the low hanging fruits like wrinkles, dry skin, eye health and grey hair – this will impact your outlook and will help the rest of your body. Get a massage, exercise your eyes, use essential oils for your skin and bath, Indulge yourself a little!