Ageing is a process that everybody has to go through. There is no choice and no possibility to stop time. The ageing process leads to a slow loss of our hard earned physical and mental capabilities. As years go by certain restrictions in life start to occur which we would rather not have.
Despite the fact that many of us try to live healthier, actual ageing cannot be stopped. Ageing starts at the cellular level. Part of this is caused by a steady breakdown of the telomeres. Telomeres are sequences of nucleic acids extending from the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres act to maintain the integrity of DNA. Every time a cell divides part of the telomere is lost, leading to information loss, cellular damage and (cell) death.
Ageing already begins at birth. Till about the age of eighteen there is a rapid division, multiplication and specialization of cells. Functions are building up by which body and mind slowly form a unity. Around this time a first turning point can be recognized. The growth in length halts and all energy starts to be focused on further development of muscles, organs and other body parts. The basic functions are expanded and optimized. From this age on clear life goals can be set.
Till about the age of thirty there is progress in physical and mental capabilities. For most people another turning point can be observed around this time. Certain stabilization occurs in their social life (relationships, marriage, children, work, study and career). In general we can say that mental maturity in male in current society is at age 35 and female at 30.
Despite the feeling that life is on the right track, small changes start to occur. The number of injuries increase, cognitive functions decrease, sensory functions decline, joints starts to loose suppleness, muscular endurance and strength start to decrease, body composition changes etc. In general more effort has to be made to reach the same results as in the past.
Which factors are responsible for these changes?
After thirty changes occurs in the hormone and enzyme balance. Several enzymes and hormones start to loose strength and functionality or are even completely build off. Many people feel their physical condition and/or sexual capabilities start to decrease. The digestive track is declining gently causing insufficient nutrients to enter the bloodstream.
Stress can be an important factor with negative implications. But stress cannot only be looked upon as negative. Stress is also an important factor for performance. Look for example at top sporting competitors. They only perform at their best under maximum stress. In our daily lives we need small amounts of stress to perform well. In fact the fitness training many of us perform is a form of stress we need to combat the daily stresses from work and social life.
Stress only starts to be of concern when it stays on too long or in the wrong situations. Possibly you have already experienced some of the side effects of stress like hard painful muscles in the shoulders, neck or calves.
Relaxation has a positive influence on the body. A sufficient amount of rest must be taken. The question is if we are truly able to realize this every day in our society, which is so much based on production and performance.
Another important factor is our eating habits. Our work and social life have not only changed the way we eat but also the composition of our meals. Most often these changes are not positive. The body needs a good and constant supply of specific basic nutrients to accommodate to the activities and stress of daily life.
Another factor is the activity of free radicals. Our cells are supplied with oxygen and nutrients by the blood stream. This circulation depends on a sufficient amount of movement. Movement can only be achieved when there is a supply of energy. To form this energy a biochemical reaction has to occur. This reaction uses oxygen and causes waste products; parts of these are free radicals. “Free radicals” is a term used to describe any molecule that possesses a free electron.
A free radical wants to neutralize itself by attaching to other molecules and stealing a matching electron. In doing so, they create new free radicals and damage body cells. This can cause a loss of function in organs with serious health consequences (sample; cancer).
Some of the factors that stimulate the forming of free radicals are stress (elevates metabolism), chronic inflammations, environmental pollution, artificial food additives, cigarette smoke, chemotherapy and all kinds of electromagnetic rays among which sunlight.
There are ways to combat the negative effects of aging.