The greatest and fully authenticated age to which any human has ever lived is 122 years 164 days by Jeanne Louise Calment in France. Her record age was so astounding that a millionaire has pledged to reward 1 million dollars to anyone who can break that record.

However, in reality, the human body is designed to deteriorate with time and is subject to wear and tear as you age: Your body capacity is set at about 80-90 years or so. But what is it that causes ageing?

We all know ageing means growing up or growing old. The exact mechanisms by which these process works is rarely understood. Understanding ageing is all about the physiological factors that drive ageing.


Understanding Ageing: The 9 Hallmarks of Ageing

Recently scientists have discovered the nine traits of ageing. These are primarily driven by genetic changes and the cell’s failure to regeneratively repair itself. Here’s why your bodies age:


1. Genomic Instability – Accumulation of Genetic Damage Through Life

DNA damage occurs naturally and to reverse it cells have innate repair mechanisms. When these repair mechanisms fail and mutations accumulate, it can contribute to the progression of ageing. As a result, it causes DNA lesions.

Your lifestyle has a major role to play with the DNA repair mechanism. Factors like disrupted sleep and alcoholism can promote instability in the DNA over time.


2. Telomere Attrition – Wear and Tear of Protective Caps in the DNA

The DNA is packaged within chromosomes that have two protection caps called telomeres at either end. Every time the cells divide and replicate, it tends to shorten. In turn, as the telomeres become short, cells stop replicating and die.

Unfortunately, when telomeres are subject to wear and tear due to ageing or environmental stressors, the DNA becomes vulnerable and causes genomic instability.


3. Epigenetic Alteration – Turning the Good Genes On and Bad Genes Off

Epigenetic is the process by which genes are turned off and on depending on your environmental and lifestyle factors. Researchers have recently discovered that your DNA has epigenetic clocks that may control how you age.

Unlike DNA mutations that occur naturally, epigenetic alterations can be reversed by providing the right lifestyle and environmental factors.


4. Loss of Proteostasis – Deterioration of Protein in the Cells

This attributes to the decline of the protein quality in your cells. After decades of repeated assaults by stressors and free radicals from the food, water, and another medium, the protein layer within the DNA tends to get damaged and misfolded.
A study in the Lancet medical journal attributes one of out every six premature deaths worldwide in 2015 to disease from exposure to environmental toxins in the air and water.


5. Deregulated Nutrient Sensing – Malabsorption of Nutrients

In your body, you have multiple nutrient-sensing pathways that ensure you take in the right amount of nutrients. However, too much food intake or wrong nutrient composition causes the cells to age faster.

Metabolic pathways go hand in hand with health and longevity pathways. This is where techniques like healthy eating, intermitted fasting, eating according to your body constitution help your body to prevent premature ageing.


6. Mitochondrial Dysfunction – Promotion of Toxic Damage

Known as the powerhouse of the cell, it is the mitochondria that produce ATP or energy for your body to survive. However, the build of free radical damage and toxins degrades the integrity of mitochondrial function and leads to a type of cell death known as Apoptosis.

As a result, the damaged mitochondria releases more toxins and create a vicious cycle of damage leading to a weakened body. There are higher chances of mitochondrial dysfunction especially in the cells with a high energy demand like the heart or brain.


7. Cellular Senescence – Cells Inability to Divide Leads to Inflammation

Over time, cells lose their ability to divide and become senile. During your youth time, these cells are cleared by the immune system. But as you get older, they tend to stick around and in turn, spreads inflammation-stimulating molecules in your body.


8. Stem Cell Exhaustion – Decrease in Stem Cells

Stem cells which are said to immortal also lose their ability to divide and the body is unable to make up for it. As a result, it causes degenerative disorders in several organs and leads to the progression of diseases or age-related disorders.


9. Altered Intercellular Communication – Irregular Hormone Function

As cells become holder, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to communicate with each other. This leads to the irregular secretion of hormones wherein the hormones are not available in the right quality or quantity.

For example, the ageing hypothalamus alters neurohormone signals, which can affect food intake, metabolism and sleep patterns, accelerating ageing even further.


Can We Reverse The Traits of Ageing and Prevent Ageing?

Since the discovery of these hallmarks of ageing, scientists are trying hard to find several anti-ageing drugs to increase life span. But, We cannot become magically immortal and live a long life or prevent ageing with so-called health elixirs or drugs. 

Ageing is bound to happen over time. But you can certainly counteract the effects of ageing and prevent chronic diseases. As seen, it all comes down to a healthy lifestyle with right eating habits, physical activity, lesser free radical damage, and toxic exposure. It goes without saying that a healthy lifestyle is key to slow down cellular ageing. If not 122 years, we can still live for a longer time and be healthy.




 

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Aging Well – Prepare for Age Related Changes in The Body and Mind