What only grows and does not decline? We all know the simple answer to this question: AGE.
But, have you ever wondered what the secret behind this phenomenal natural process is?
GERONTOLOGY: THE SECRET
Aging is a normal process accompanied by a progressive alteration of the body’s homeostatic adaptive responses. It results in visible changes in changes and functions of the body. Moreover, it increases vulnerability to environmental stress and diseases.
The cells present in our body have only a limited capacity to divide. Cessation of mitosis, which is the standard dividing process, is a genetically programmed event. Thus proving, ‘aging genes’ are a part of our genetic blueprint right since birth. However, an activity of the genes in cells slows over time. They halt the processes vital to life and bring about aging, and the body succumbs to the phenomenon of ‘wear-and-tear.’
Glucose, which is the most abundant sugar in the human body, plays a significant role in the process. It forms irreversible cross-links between protein molecules, which contribute to the stiffening and loss of elasticity in the aging tissues.
Aerobic respiration in mitochondria, air pollution, radiation, and certain foods produce free radicals. Further, these lead to oxidative damage in lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids of the growing cells. Finally, this causes wrinkled skin, stiff joints, and hardened arteries. Certain dietary antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and zinc help in inhibiting free radical formation.
Sometimes, however, the immune system may start attacking body’s own cells. The increase in protein concentration in the cell plasma membrane intensifies autoimmune response. Eventually, it produces the well-known signs of aging.
DEFYING THE NATURAL PROCESS OF AGING
Progeria is a well-known disease characterized by rapid aging during the initial years of life. It is caused due to a genetic defect in the chromosomes. The commonly observed symptoms include dry and wrinkled skin, total baldness, and usually, death occurs around the age of 13.
Werner syndrome is rare, inherited diseased causing a rapid acceleration of aging while the person is in the twenties. It is characterized by symptoms such as wrinkling of skin, graying of hair, baldness, cataracts, and muscular atrophy. Moreover, the person tends to develop diabetes mellitus, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Afflicted individuals usually die by the age of 50.
SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT AGING
- Few cells in the human body, such as skeletal muscle cells and nerve cells do not divide. This is due to the permanent arrest in a quiescent phase of the mitotic division.
- Recent observations prove that telomeres, which are specific DNA sequences at the tips of each chromosome, are responsible for aging. Shortening of the telomere length due to erosion leads to increased stress levels.
- A unique jellyfish is theoretically and biologically immortal. It tends to age both forward and backward. Furthermore, scarcity of food, any injury and environmental factors lead to this explicit phenomenon.