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What is it?
Anti-aging is the concept of delaying or retarding the aging process and extending an individual’s lifetime and quality of life beyond the expected average. It alludes to the process and actions undertaken to advance this cause. Anti-aging research is a relatively new branch of medical science. It deals with all processes and underlying causes of aging and aims to develop solutions to detect, prevent and treat conditions that are age-related. The aim is to ensure that humans can live the longest possible lives while retaining all youthful advantages.
How is aging caused?
Some processes of aging are inherent, which means they are caused by the body itself. These include processes that take place within the body that compel it to grow like adolescents going through puberty. Other types of aging are caused by exposure to catalysts external to the body like skin damage caused by the sun. Overall, aging is the collective impact of inherent bodily changes and external environmental factors.
Aging occurs at the cellular level. Cells age based on how many times they replicate. A single cell is able to replicate nearly 50 times before they are unable to copy the genetic material accurately. The amount of times a cell must replicate is proportional to how much damage is done to the cells by free radicals.
Hormones are a major cause of aging as well, particularly during the periods of childhood and adolescence by expediting the human growth process. Hormone levels fluctuate throughout your lifetime. These hormonal changes can then cause symptoms of aging like dry skin and menopause.
Aging is also caused by accumulated damage. Accumulated damage is entirely external to the human body. It includes all environmental factors that affect the body. These factors include but are not limited to exposure to toxins, harmful food, pollution, smoke, and the sun. Pretty much, all of the environment produces some effect on the body that leads to damage caused to tissues, organs and other bodily components and slows down the body’s ability to maintain and repair cells and vital organs.
Another cause of aging is metabolism. Constantly throughout a person’s lifetime, your body cells keep turning food into energy and simultaneously creating by-products during the process. This process can slowly deteriorate the body’s health, causing aging.
What are the symptoms of aging?
Aging affects different people at different rates based on numerous factors like their lifestyles, health, jobs, and regions of residence amongst others. However, some symptoms of aging are nearly universal such as wrinkles, grey hair, and sagging skin. Other symptoms exist that are more serious and just as common.
As people age, their cardiovascular system changes. The blood vessels and arteries are known to stiffen, resulting in increased work done by the heart to pump blood throughout the system. Although resting heart rate usually stays the same, it will likely not rise to the rate it used to during high exertion activities. Medical conditions like hypertension and high blood pressure develop from these changes in the cardiovascular system. Stability and general co-ordination may also get weaker as muscles lose flexibility, strength, and endurance. The body slowly starts to wear out.
A lack of exercise that usually is accompanied by lifestyles of elders can lead to bouts of constipation. This is made more frequent by structural changes in the large intestine that are commonly increased with age.
As the body sags, the bladder also becomes less elastic. This is signaled by a need to urinate more often. Muscles of the bladder may weaken, leading to some people losing bladder control. In men, inflamed prostate can cause these symptoms as well. Excessive weight gain, another symptom that develops due to the metabolic system slowing down, increased intake of medication and nerve damage can all contribute to urinary incontinence.
Slight slowing down of memory and thoughts is a common symptom of aging. People may forget familiar words and names or find themselves less capable of multitasking. Similarly, reflexes are known to slow down as well, exhibited by a loss in stability and balance.
A slight decrease in the functionality of basic sensory organs may also occur. Older people may find themselves feeling sensitive to glare and different levels of light. Clouded vision may also be a symptom. Hearing ability is known to get diminished. Increased elasticity and thinning of the skin makes one more susceptible to small bruises. Dry skin, wrinkles, and small growths are known to develop.
What are the treatment options available?
Anti-aging medicines gear to extend life by enhancing health by improving diet, increasing productive physical exercise and maintaining healthy hormone levels.
It is paramount to maintain a diet that is hormonally correct if you aim to lead a healthy life in old age. A hormonally correct diet balances insulin and glucagon activity in the body. This diet contains an intake of 50 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 20 percent fat. Vitamins and mineral intake and proper hydration are also vital in the diet. It is recommended that you eat a small meal every 4-5 hours of the day. A proper diet can help increase metabolism, maintain a healthy weight and provide the body with all essential nutrients.
Regular exercise is one of the most obvious arsenals in the anti-aging program. Light stretches upon waking up, daily jogs and exercise classes for yoga or Pilates a few times a week can lead to an exponentially higher quality of life than expected for those of an older age. Exercising keeps the muscles from stiffening and keeps the body flexible, reducing susceptibility to many old age symptoms. Physical activity also releases endorphins that keep people from falling into depression.
Nutraceutical supplements are also vital in maintaining hormone levels that can protect youthfulness and health in people. These include vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that protect the body from wear and tear and other signs of aging. Hormone replacement therapy may also prove effective although injecting hormones requires the evaluation, consent, and guidance from a physician.
In the future, anti-aging drugs may target dead cells that have stopped dividing, called senescent cells. Medical scientists and physicians at Mayo Clinic have developed senolytic drugs that can selectively kill harmful senescent cells. The senolytic drugs have been tested on mice and results have shown an increased lifespan of the mice. The research has now progressed to clinical human trials of which all 14 participants have shown an increase in health a month into the trial. These results seem quite hopeful for the future of anti-aging medicine.