Aging

5 Proven Tips To Look Young And Healthy (What’s Aging)

Understanding why we age is merely knowing the motive of life itself. From the beginning of time, humans have attempted to understand the process of growing old . Chasing down mythology to look young, you will discover innumerable fanciful stories about eternal youth and immortality secrets and techniques to look young forever. Anthropologist Ernest Becker (1973) argued that the fear of death is the mainspring of human interest. “An activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny for man”.  Personally, I consider that the most correct notion of getting older comes from Leopardi (1798– 1837)

“Old age is the supreme evil, because it deprives us of all pleasures, leaving us only the appetite for them, and it brings with it all sufferings. Nevertheless, we fear death, and we desire old age”.

Giacomo Leopardi

Since the National Institute on Aging was established at the National Institutes of Health in 1974, the biology of getting old emerged allowing us to explore the records of growing older. What’s really happening at the biochemical, genetic, and physiological level? Is it really possible to slow down these processes or should we keep looking for the elixir of life and the philosopher’s stone?

5 proven tips to look younger

What’s aging?

In general, aging merely refers to the changes that occur naturally during an organism’s lifespan, though they vary greatly from a person to another.

Since the age of 20, aging affects every cell in our body, thus impacting their functions and capacities leading to a progressive deterioration and a loss of complexity in physiological processes. Age affect every system in living organisms. Morbidities range from wrinkles, grayish hair and sagging to skin to more serious damages in every vital system. These alterations may be summarized through a hormonal dysregulation causing osteoporosis, a libido decrease, a slow immunity increasing the risk of infections, cancer and auto-immune diseases, locomotive problems due to the loss of bone and cartilage mass, circulatory system complications, increased blood pressure and myocardium hypertrophy,  urinary problems, breath shortness and abnormal breathing patterns especially during sleep, degenerative neural problems, cognitive impairment, an increased risk of cancer.

The majority of these changes are genetically rooted and emphasized by environmental factors and behavioral tendencies. But what’s really happening at the molecular level in every cell of our organism?

Some scientists suggest that the deliberate deterioration is coded in our DNA resulting in evolutionary advantages. Aging could be an evolutionary natural altruistic plan that limit the competition for resources. Many genes were located to have major effects on lifespans in mammals such as insulin/IGF-1, sirtuins, mTOR, Klotho, growth hormones… The regulation of these signals could increase or decrease lifespans.

Other scientists believe that aging is not programmed however is driven via an accumulation of damages. The more damage we acquire, the quicker we age, thus explaining the vast variety of lifespans and offering a hope in preventing and curing aging. Among the damages theories, prevails the concept of oxidative damage. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are naturally produced during the cell metabolism. ROS are known to cause DNA, lipids and proteins damage. While attacking the DNA, the ROS may cause extreme damage in the DNA leading to apoptosis. Similarly defective proteins and a lipids set cells damage by intrinsic or extrinsic signals.

Another prevailing damage theory is the genome instability principle. Naturally, DNA damage mechanisms scan DNA and prevent genome instability. Some mutations can affect the proteins of the DNA repair group leading to a higher risk of cell’s death and a lower life span.

Similarly, genome instability ought to result to telomeres’ shortening. Telomeres are repeated DNA sequences at the end of linear chromosomes. They shorten after each cell division causing an instability in the genome and an accumulation of mutations. Other scientists theorize that aging is a biophysical process related to changes in the cells’ ability to transfer chemicals, heat and electrical processes.

To summarize, aging by itself is not a disease. It can’t be cured! Aging results by numerous degenerative mechanism which sum will lead inevitably to death. Yet, aging can be slowed down and there is no disagreement about the necessity of fighting age-related illnesses and comorbidities.

Restrict your caloric intake!

The Practical Advices To Look Younger And Healthier

1. Restrict your caloric intake!

Needless to say, our body needs food to survive and produce the essential energy for the metabolism. But, the very process of extracting energy in your body creates oxidative stress. Overeating creates excessive stress in the body.

It is broadly accepted that caloric restriction (30-40% of the average daily intake) extends lifespan and suppresses diverse pathophysiological modifications. This could be explained by the threatening outcomes of obesity on the cardiovascular and endocrine systems. For instance, visceral obesity has been strongly correlated to diabetes risk, hyperlipidemia and hypertension, acknowledged together as “metabolic syndrome” which is a known risk factor for life-threating atherosclerotic diseases along with myocardial infarction and cerebral infarction. Caloric limit has also been tested to result in many anti-aging molecular pathways and to behave as an anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor in various tissues.

Considering observations made in mice, some scientists believe that mammals genetic program maybe “slowed down”, which indirectly slow-down. Since caloric limit induces numerous responses at hormonal and proteomic levels, caloric restrict is diagnosed as the only therapy capable of potentially delaying growing old.

A new methodology similar to caloric restriction is intermittent fasting. This habitual has been established to have similar results as caloric restriction. Furthermore, intermittent fasting advanced cognitive function and decreased oxidative stress during middle age and proved to delay age-related mind impairments. This old methodology practiced as a ritual in lots of religions proved to prevent age related neural-degeneration and critical illnesses.

Antioxidants boost

2. Antioxidants boost

Cells naturally exhibit a wide array of endogenous antioxidant systems that are amplified by means of ingestions of antioxidants and vitamins. However, the exposure of cigarette smoking, alcohol, radiation, or environmental toxins induces the production of excessive ROS, which disrupt the balance between oxidation and anti-oxidation and bring about a few chronic and degenerative sicknesses. Natural antioxidants are broadly distributed in food and medicinal plants. They are specifically polyphenols, carotenoids and vitamins. The most common antioxidants are the vitamins A, C and E in addition to the coenzyme Q10. The commercialization of these products present them as a miracle cure to delay aging. Till now no proof showed an increase of lifespan after long term antioxidants ingestion. In reality, many studies showed that antioxidant boost can’t affect mortality either positively or negatively. Yet, these materials are verified to lessen the threat of chronic disease, mental impairments and metabolism problems given that oxidative stress has an enormous influence in the development of many age-related diseases like diabetes, dementia, stroke, cancer, arthritis… In general, it’s important to focus on a vitamin rich diet and to keep in mind that antioxidants and vitamins pills should stay a therapeutic approach in case of need and not an obsession. Let’s not forget the famous statement of the father of medicine Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food!”

relax

3. Relax!

The link between psychological stress and aging is intuitive, as consequence stress has been defined as a “Silent serial killer”. The complete mechanism wherein stress affects cells physiology is not fully understood. Many research projects suggest that psychological conditions and yet emotions responses induce meaningful biological answers. Evidences from animal research shows that chronic and acute stress exposure alter precise aspects of mitochondrial structure and function. Knowing that mitochondria is the energy producing organelle of cells, it’s useless to mention that stressful signals impacts our energy levels , accordingly affecting every cell in our organism. The theory that stress causes immunodeficiency, DNA damages leading to serious chronic illnesses like cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, hormonal imbalance , thus affecting vital organs such as the liver, the kidneys, the heart and the digestive tracts has been proven by numerous medical examples and research effects. Additionally chronic stress can lead to dysregulation of the hypothalamic pituitary axis, which may increase cortisol levels, consequently leading to serious illnesses such as coronary calcification and metastatic breast cancer progression. Chronic stress can suppress levels of certain growth factors and can increase levels of insulin and visceral fat.

That leads us to believe that defying stress is a practical tool in defying aging and prolonging lifespan. Mental health matters and psychological cures should be taken seriously.

Many clinical trials investigated the positive effect of non-pharmacologic therapies like yoga, meditation, laughter, music and physical exercise as an effective cure for stress, depression, anxiety, psychological-related infertility, hormonal imbalance, oxidative stress levels and cognitive behavioral disorders.

Exercise

4. Exercise

One of the principal hallmarks of getting older is the reduction of muscle mass. In addition to that, it has been reported that humans over the age of 60 years old spend most of their waking hour engaged in sedentary pursuits, thus leading to a “vicious circle” of muscle loss and locomotive injuries and inflammations. Regular exercise is a powerful stimulus to lessen the muscular changes and to promote health and well-being by reducing the risk of many potentially lethal sicknesses. Exercise does not mitigate the aging process, it attenuates many of the deleterious systemic and cellular effects and improves the function of most of the mechanisms involved in aging. Current proof shows that a regular workout prevents many age-associated morbidities and pathophysiological declines. Old people can adapt and respond to endurance and strength exercise supporting them to improve their cardiovascular, respiratory functions and boosting their immunity. This results in a reduction of the risk factors associated with chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Exercise enhances muscle quality and functional capacity on the elderly, therefore improving their life quality!

seek medical help

5. Get some medical help!

In the following paragraphs, I’ll discuss many anti-aging biomedical practices. But, considering the complexity of aging by itself, it’s a fantasy to believe that one of these practices will act as a silver-bullet for aging.

Many anti- aging therapeutic strategies are at the forefront of becoming mainstream therapies for combating aging and postponing age-related diseases in the coming years.

a. Regenerative therapies using stem cells:

Adult stem cells are tissue resident cells that play a fundamental role in tissue. Those cells are a good supply of paracrine signals (growth factors and cytokines) that stimulate environmental cells in response to traumatic signaling (such as inflammation, hypoxia…) or a lost function (caused by dead or senescent cells). These characteristics make stem cell therapy an essential aspect of regenerative medicine.

It’s important to mention that aged tissues have reduced stem cells pool with a poor renewal and paracrine capabilities. Anti-aging therapies seem to benefit from the paracrine potential of stem cells producing cytokines and life-extending growth factors. New healing approaches aim to mobilize the endogenous stem cells encouraging them to proliferate thus increasing the pool of stem cells and to secrete regenerative signals.

Similarly, exogenous stem cells transplant into damaged tissue is widely considered for plenty of therapeutic procedures including cancer therapy and tissue regeneration.

Stem cells have been validated efficient in many health issues ranging from blindness and neural regeneration to liver restoration, as well as potential treatments in movement disorders (and other age-related illnesses such as muscular dystrophies and skin deterioration. Therefore, the research in the field of stem cells is to be further investigated in order to fully understand the molecular pathways and the possible risks of such therapies the reason why many stem cell based therapies are still experimental and not yet approved for medical treatment.

Adult stem cells are tissue resident cells that play a fundamental role in tissue. Those cells are a good supply of paracrine signals (growth factors and cytokines) that stimulate environmental cells in response to traumatic signaling (such as inflammation, hypoxia…) or a lost function (caused by dead or senescent cells). These characteristics make stem cell therapy an essential aspect of regenerative medicine.

It’s important to mention that aged tissues have reduced stem cells pool with a poor renewal and paracrine capabilities. Anti-aging therapies seem to benefit from the paracrine potential of stem cells producing cytokines and life-extending growth factors. New healing approaches aim to mobilize the endogenous stem cells encouraging them to proliferate thus increasing the pool of stem cells and to secrete regenerative signals.

Similarly, exogenous stem cells transplant into damaged tissue is widely considered for plenty of therapeutic procedures including cancer therapy and tissue regeneration.

Stem cells have been validated efficient in many health issues ranging from blindness and neural regeneration to liver restoration, as well as potential treatments in movement disorders (and other age-related illnesses such as muscular dystrophies and skin deterioration. Therefore, the research in the field of stem cells is to be further investigated in order to fully understand the molecular pathways and the possible risks of such therapies the reason why many stem cell based therapies are still experimental and not yet approved for medical treatment.

b. Hormonal therapies:

Since growth hormones deficiency was associated with early aging, growth hormone was suggested as an anti-aging treatment and few evidences suggested that patients have seen beneficial effects in elderly such as muscle mass and libido increases, an enhancement in the immunity and energy levels. But, hormonal therapy didn’t live up to the expectancies due to the negative side effects such as high blood pressure, diabetes and metabolism alterations suggesting a pro-cancerous effect in patients with tumor vulnerabilities. This therapeutic technique can be subscribed as imprudent and require additional studies and investigations.

c. Telomere-based therapies:

Many age-associated diseases could be taken into consideration as telomere shortening associated diseases such as liver cirrhosis, arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease.  Telomerase activator such as TA-65®, is already available in many pharmaceutical products as a potential anti-aging molecule. Yet, this molecule failed to increase significantly lifespan, it showed apparent positive immune remodeling and beneficial effects over metabolic, bone, and cardiovascular health. But, as noted before, telomerase activation is strongly related to cancer growth thus giving a powerful reason to speculate that telomerase activators could increase cancer risk.

d. Future therapies

Many approaches showed proven results in delaying aging. The use of many pharmaceutical drugs such as Rapamicine, Metformin, Torin, Perifosin… could extend maximal lifespan in mammalian species and suppress tumors. However, serious side effects limit the use of these drugs nowadays. 

Nonetheless, thus far, genetic engineering and biomedical applications like nanotechnology will open the door to many promising therapies with a large myriad of illnesses  that are certainly within our reach but still not authorized nor available.

Conclusion

To conclude, many therapeutic approaches could be offered as a solution to look young but they present cancer as a side effect. Since the mechanism of aging and cancer myriads act at similar molecular signaling, the therapeutic methods need to be perfected and further investigated.

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Najat Bteich
Najat Bteich is a researcher in cellular biology and an expert in the field of regenerative medicine and pharmacology. She graduated from the Lebanese University with a Master degree in “Stem cells, organogenesis and regenerative medicine” and pursued a researcher career in cellular biology and bioengineering projects between the Lebanese University, The American University of Beirut, and The University of Rouen.
Articles: 4

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