Why Do We Age And How We Can Stop It – Types And Theories
Why Do We Age – Aging refers to the physiological changes we experience throughout life. It is also an integral part of life.
After all, our cells are not designed to live forever. The structure and function of our cells deteriorate over time.
But why does this happen? For decades, scientists have studied this topic. There are currently more than 300 theories about why we age, and experts are learning more every day.
Let’s take a look at why do people age and how we can stop its effects.
Types Of Aging
Aging can be divided into two types and is caused by two types of factors: internal and external.
Cellular aging is caused by intrinsic factors. This is due to the biological aging of cells.
Cells are the building blocks of the body. Your cells are programmed to divide, reproduce, and perform basic biological functions.
But the more cells divide, the older they get. Instead, the cells end up losing their ability to function properly.
Cellular damage also increases as cells age. This makes cells unhealthy, leading to failure of biological processes. Cellular damage also accumulates over time.
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Aging Due To Damage And The Environment
Associated with environmental damage and aging is associated with external factors. This refers to how our environment and lifestyle affect our age.
These include factors such as:
- Air Pollution
- Tobacco Smoke
- Alcohol Consumption
- Exposure To Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation
Over time, these factors can damage our cells and contribute to aging.
Everyone experiences both types of aging. However, each form of aging varies from person to person, which explains why we age differently.
Theories About Aging
It is generally accepted that aging is caused by many processes and not by a single cause. It is also possible that these processes interact and overlap.
Here are some of the most famous theories:
Programmed Aging Theory (Why Do We Age)
The programmed aging theory states that humans are designed to age and that our cells have a predetermined lifespan that is hard-coded into our body.
Also called active or adaptive theory of aging, it includes:
- Gene Theory: This theory suggests that certain genes turn on and off over time, causing aging.
- Endocrine Theory: According to this theory, aging is caused by changes in hormones produced by the endocrine system.
- Immunological Theory: Also called autoimmunity theory, this is the idea that the immune response is designed to decrease. The result is disease and aging.
Programming theory has many adherents. However, they suggest that habits related to longevity, such as quitting smoking and exercising, do not help.
This is probably not true, as studies consistently show that these habits affect life expectancy.
Fallacy Of The Aging Theory
Error theory, or damage theory, is the opposite of programming theory. They suggested that aging is caused by random and unplanned cell changes.
Mistaken theories of aging include:
- Wear And Tear Theory: This is the idea that cells break down and deteriorate over time. But critics say it doesn’t take into account the body’s ability to heal itself.
- Genome Instability Theory: According to this theory, aging occurs because the body loses the ability to repair DNA damage.
- Cross Link Theory: This theory states that aging is caused by the formation of cross-linked proteins that damage cells and slow down biological functions.
- Rate Of Living Theory: Proponents of this theory say that an organism’s metabolic rate determines its lifespan. However, the theory lacks conclusive and consistent scientific evidence.
- Free Radical Theory: This theory proposes that aging is caused by the accumulation of oxidative stress caused by free radicals. But some say this theory can’t explain other types of cell damage seen with aging.
- Mitochondrial Theory: As a variation of the free radical theory, this theory states that mitochondrial damage releases free radicals and causes aging. This theory has no solid scientific evidence.
Genetic Theory Of Aging
Genetic theory suggests that aging depends primarily on genetics. In other words, our lifespan is controlled by the genes we receive from our parents.
Because genes have predetermined characteristics, this theory is considered to overlap with the theory of programmed aging.
Genetic theories include:
- Telomeric Theory: Telomeres protect the ends of your chromosomes as they reproduce. Over time, telomeres shorten, which is associated with disease and aging.
- Theory Of Programmed Aging: Cell aging occurs when cells stop dividing and growing, but do not die. This theory suggests that it causes aging.
- Stem Cell Theory: Stem cells can develop into other cells, helping to repair tissues and organs. But stem cell function declines over time, which can contribute to aging.
- Longevity Gene Theory: This is the idea that certain genes extend life. More research is needed.
The weakness of genetic theories is that they ignore the importance of external factors. In fact, it is believed that genetics only influence 25% of life expectancy. This suggests that environmental and lifestyle factors play a role.
Evolutionary Theory Of Aging
Natural selection refers to the adaptive characteristics of an organism. These characteristics can help organisms adapt to their environment, increasing their chances of survival.
According to evolutionary theory, aging is based on natural selection. He says that an organism begins to age after it has reached the peak of reproduction and transmission of adaptive traits.
Evolutionary theories include:
- Accumulation Of Mutations: This theory suggests that random mutations accumulate later in life.
- Antagonistic Pleiotropy: According to this theory, genes that promote fertility at an early age have negative effects later.
- Disposable Soma Theory: This theory states that when more metabolic resources are spent on reproduction, less is allocated to DNA repair. The result is cell damage and aging.
These theories are still being researched and need more evidence.
Biochemical Theory Of Aging
Another theory is that biochemical reactions cause aging. This reaction occurs naturally and continues throughout life.
This theory is based on several concepts, including:
- Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs): AGEs develop when fat or protein is exposed to sugar. High levels can cause oxidative stress, which accelerates aging.
- Response To Heat Stroke: Heat shock proteins protect cells from stress, but the response weakens with age.
- Damage Accumulation: Normal chemical reactions damage DNA, proteins, and metabolites over time.
Why does life expectancy increase?
In recent decades, life expectancy around the world has increased. This is due to many factors, including:
- The best food
- Improved hygiene
- Access to health care
- Improvements in modern medicine
These factors can protect our cells and reduce cell damage, prolonging lifespan.
Why do women live longer than men?
In most parts of the world, women live longer than men. This is due to a number of biological, social and environmental factors.
Women, on average, have more estrogen than men. Estrogen is a female sex hormone. It has been found to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects, which can protect women from certain diseases.
On the other hand, the male sex hormone testosterone can suppress the immune system. Men generally have more of this hormone.
There are also differences in the behavior of men and women. In general, compared to men, women:
- Eat healthier
- Reduce alcohol, tobacco, or drug use
- Drive more safely
- More likely to have access to health care
Can we delay the effects of aging?
Although aging is inevitable, some of its effects can be delayed. You can do this by following healthy lifestyle habits.
Here’s how to slow down aging:
- Eat A Nutritious Diet: Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit processed foods.
- Keep Active: Exercise reduces the physical and mental effects of aging. Aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
- Avoid Tobacco: Tobacco accelerates aging. Quitting smoking can often be difficult, but a doctor can help you design a quit plan that’s right for you.
- Drink Alcohol In Moderation: Alcohol increases the risk of chronic diseases.
- Participate In Regular Checkups: Regular check-ups with a doctor are the best way to prevent or treat diseases at an early stage.
- Know Your Family History: Discuss your family’s medical history with your doctor to get proper evaluation or early treatment for possible chronic conditions.
- Engage Your Brain: Protect your cognitive function by doing brain exercises.
- Wear Sunscreen: Sunscreen protects the skin from UV rays that can cause premature aging.
Aging can be caused by a combination of causes. Some theories suggest that cells have a predetermined lifespan, while others argue that this is due to errors and malfunctions.
Other theories say that aging is caused by genetics, evolution, or biochemical reactions.
Aging is normal, but a healthy lifestyle can help you live longer. Habits like eating right, exercising regularly, and wearing sunscreen can reduce your risk of disease and improve your quality of life.