According to the World Health Organization, ageing is explained as:
“At the biological level, ageing results from the impact of the accumulation of a wide variety of molecular and cellular damage over time. This leads to a gradual decrease in physical and mental capacity, a growing risk of disease, and ultimately death. These changes are neither linear nor consistent and are only loosely associated with a person’s age in years. The diversity seen in older age is not random. Beyond biological changes, ageing is often associated with other life transitions such as retirement, relocation to more appropriate housing, and the death of friends and partners.”
Ageing – a ‘Catch 22’
Ageing is described as becoming older or, to be a bit poetic, ageing is simply “Growing Old,” often attributed to wrinkles, grey hair, age spots, or diminished functions, and is indeed an ordeal.
More than that, ageing is an accumulation of physical, psychological, and social changes over time. It also increases the risks of disease, especially lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and many more. The Blue Zone region, home to some of the oldest and healthiest people in the world is an exception.
They incorporate and follow a strict lifestyle that includes mostly eating a plant-based diet, exercising regularly, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, getting enough sleep, and having a good spiritual, family, and social networks.
These lifestyle factors are associated with longer life and promote healthy ageing.
Is ageing a disease?
Traditionally, growing old was regarded as a natural process; but studies carried out in recent years put forth ageing as a disease within itself. For example:
Though skin ageing is accepted as the norm and seen as separate from disease photoaging, the accelerated deterioration of skin as a result of UV rays is considered a condition leading to pathology by dermatologists.
(Rabe et al., 2006)
The ideology of ageing comprises a natural and universal process, and diseases are deviations from the normal state mentioned against classifying ageing as a disease.
The objective of biomedical research is to let people be as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Therefore, rejecting the supposed acceptance of the tag “natural” better validates medical efforts to either eliminate it or eliminate undesirable conditions associated with it, says Callahan and Topinkova (1998).
Also, a drastic transformation would happen as anti-ageing therapies from the Federal Drug Administration’s rules for cosmetic medicine would shift to rigid regulations for disease treatment and prevention.
Theories and concepts of ageing
There exist many theories proposed on the mechanism of ageing. Some commonly discussed theories are the free radical theory, the membrane theory of ageing, the decline theory, etc.
Nonetheless, no one theory sufficiently explains the process of ageing and often contradicts one another.
* Free Radical Theory of Ageing
Until a few years, the only theory of ageing was the Free Radical Theory of Ageing and it was believed the root cause of old-age diseases was the excess free radicals.
But this is disputed as free radicals have numerous other advantageous roles played in the body.
* Cellular senescence
A process in which cells cease dividing and undergo alterations of a set of observable characteristics or traits.
Recent discoveries have developed the profounding role of cellular senescence in tissue repair, ageing, and age-related disorders.
NRF2 is regarded as the expert controller of the balance between reducing and oxidizing reactions within cells and the regulation of biological responses and events, which declines with age.
It is a transcription factor that transcriptionally upregulates genes that battle oxidative stress.
Loss of NRF2 permits oxidative stress to move clear-cut and drive the ageing traits. Oxidative stress is a key feature associated with ageing, as it disturbs the process that regulates proteins within the cell, alters genomic stability, and leads to cell death.
The discovery of telomeres brought changes in the study of longevity and the process of ageing.
Telomeres are the specific DNA–protein structures seen at both ends of each chromosome protecting the ends of chromosomes from damage or fusing with nearby chromosomes.
It shortens with each round of cell division, each time a cell copies itself.
Finally, telomeres get too short to perform the task, causing the cells to age and stop functioning properly.
“In population studies, researchers have found that older people have shorter telomeres, Eventually, the cells with shorter telomeres can no longer replicate. This affects more and more cells over time, leading to tissue damage and the dreaded signs of ageing.”
The Making of a Super Human (Page No. 68)
Do you know?
Telomere length functions as a biological clock to decide the lifespan of a cell and an organism.
Gut microorganisms present in the gut regulate its normal functions, such as food digestion and absorption, and provide essential nutrition.
Personal factors influence age-related alterations in the gut microbiome.
The microbiome has a mutual association with age: it changes as the body ages and is altered in age-related disease yet also modifies age-related impairments.
Ageing could be managed healthily by maintaining proper gut health.
Several genetic factors are involved in ageing.
Some specific gene combinations or genotypes determine human lifespan. Changes are observed as an outcome of alteration in a single gene.
According to the Genome-Wide Association Studies in centenarians, the influence of genetic factors in lifespan variation combines with the genetic variants, involved in ageing and age-related diseases.
The inevitable decline in our quality of life called AGEING is certainly a fear in everyone’s life but it could be modified into healthy ageing.
Getting older doesn’t mean having low quality of life but actually can be the best. Perhaps one of the best secrets is to maintain and treat the body well. You can unlock it and the key is EPLIMO. One of the most comprehensive genetic tests combined with a detailed metabolic assessment marked as a personalised lifestyle management solution.