Author: Rositsa Tashkova, Master of Molecular Biology and Microbiology

Facts about aging and how not to age

Aging is a natural process that has been embedded in us since the beginning of our existence. But the pursuit of eternal youth and immortality also seems innate to us. Scientists are trying to unravel the mechanisms behind this fundamental process, and in recent years they have become increasingly close to achieving this goal. The next step is to figure out how to reverse the process, or at least slow it down.

Aging Is Not Just a Cosmetic Defect

The aging process undoubtedly affects our appearance, but more importantly,it leads to the development of a number of diseases, loss of basic functions,decrease in quality of life.

Aging affects physiological functions and can be defined as the accumulation of damage in molecules, cells and tissues throughout life. This often reduces the body's ability to maintain homeostasis (balance) in stressful conditions and leads to a greater risk for many diseases (cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's) and premature death.

Aging Occurs at the Cellular Level

Cell aging is a process in which cells lose functions - including the ability to divide but continue to release molecules - that damage adjacentcells.

In addition, the researchers found that clearing aging cells [ref. 2] from the brain preserves the mental abilities of mice used as a model of Alzheimer's disease. Several sinolytics [ref. 3] recently underwent early stage of human clinical trials.

Aging is not just a cosmetic defect

According to this theory, the aging process is the result of the inability of different types of stem cells to continue to supplement the body's tissues with full-fledged specialized cells capable of maintaining the initial function of this tissue or organ.

Moreover, the number of stem cells in young people is much higher than in adults, which provides them with a better and more effective mechanism for replacing outdated or damaged cells. In other words, ageing is not a matter of increasing errors in cells, but a matter of failure to replace damaged cellsdue to a reduced number of stem cells.

Food Restrictions for a Longer Life

More and more popularity is gaining 100,000 pounds. "fasting" or more "intermittentfasting" - intermittent fasting [ref. 4]. This is a way of eating, in which either one meal is missed for the day, or in 2 out of 5 days almost no food is taken (up to 500-700 calories per day), and in the rest the meal takes place in the usual way.

Fasting and intermittent fasting are good for health and youth

In this case, the body switches from glucose as a source of energy to fatty acids and ketone bodies.

In addition, ketone bodies regulate the production and activity of many proteins and molecules known to affect health and aging.

Cells respond [ref. 5] to intermittent fasting by enhancing antioxidant protection, dna repair, protein quality control, creating new mitochondria (energy is synthesized in them), autophagy (removal of unnecessary, damaged and defective cells) and lowering inflammation. Very good effects on the state of the brain and psyche have also been observed.

Epigenetics: Your Way of Life Affects the Longevity of Your Children

Longevity can be inherited through epigenetic changes - that is, changes that affect genes without altering the basic sequence of DNA. These factors are influenced by a variety of environmental factors, lifestyle,stress, but are also passed on to the next generation.

This suggests that parents' lifestyles and even their behaviour can affect the life expectancy and health of the next generation through mechanisms other than genetic .

Is Resveratrol the Elixir of Life

Since its discovery in 1939, more and more studies have identified its beneficial effects on health and longevity, both in vitro (in laboratory cells) and in vivo (in living organisms) [ref. 6].

It has been found that resveratrol can limit the release of inflammatory molecules contributing to cardiovascular disease. Some suggest this finding resolves the "French paradox" - that some European nations consuming large amounts of wine - have a low rate of cardiovasculardisease, even though their diet is high in fat.

Resveratrol is amazing in that it regulates many key enzymes [ref. 7] in a way that improves health andlongevity.

Wine and grapes are a rich source of resveratrol

Unfortunately, it has also been found that resveratrol is poorly absorbed by the body and has a short half-life when it is relied upon to source it with food or wine. Scientists are working on modified forms of the substance that are just as non-toxicbut digested better.

What Is a Telomere and Why It Is Relevant to Aging and Health

Our genetic material , DNA, is organized in the form of chromosomes, the ends of which end with protective structurescalled telomeres [ref. 8].

Progressive shortening of telomeres leads to aging, apoptosis (programmed cell death) or oncogenic cell transformation, and this negatively affects the health and life of the individual. Shorter telomeres are associated with increased incidence of diseases and poor survival.

The length of telomeres is important for ageing

Credit: WassermanLab, Wikipedia

The rate of telomere shortening can be increased or reduced by lifestyle . Better diet and activity choices have great potential to reduce telomere shortening rates, leading to delays inage-related diseases and prolongation of life [ref. 9].

Factors that shorten telomeres at a greater than normal rate and lead to aging are: obesity, smoking, dirty air , stress, diet rich inpolyunsaturated fats, excessive protein intake, immobilization.

What to Include or Exclude from Your Menu

A study by Cassidy et al. [ref. 10] it was found that the length of the telomer was positively associated with dietary intake of fiber and negatively related to waist circumference and intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids with food, especially linoleic acid.

A decrease in protein intake (protein) in food also seems to increase longevity. In one study, a decrease in protein content in food by 40%, which led to an increase in the life of rats by 15%. [ref. 9]

Food rich in antioxidants - such asvitamin C, E, beta-carotene and omega-3 fattyacids - also helps preserve longer telomeres.

Read more in the article Why omega-3 fatty acids are healthy and what they are used for.

Foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 for youth

Caloric restriction, or in other words, the smaller amount of food, lowers oxidative stress and DNA damage, which in animal studies has led to a 66% prolongation of their lives. [ref. 11]

Exercise Brings Youth

One of the ways in which exercise helps us stay young and healthy for longer is to reduce harmful fats and eliminate waste productsfaster , resultingin reduced oxidative stress and preserving DNA and telomeres.

Exercises are associated with increased activity of the enzyme telomerase (it helps to build up telomeres) and suppression of several proteins- associatedwith programmed cell death - apoptosis.

It has been found that in the cells of athletes there is increased activity of the enzyme telomerase and reduced shortening of telomeres, compared to people who are not athletes [ref. 12].

Movement and sport are very important for preserving youth and health

It seems that exercise is associated with reduced oxidative stress and increased expression of proteins that stabilize telomeres, and can therefore reduce the rate of aging and age-related diseases.

Progeria: Children Who Seem to Age Very Quickly

Progeria [ref. 13] is an extremely rare genetic disease that occurs as a result of mutation , not heredity. It is thought to affect about 1 child in 4 million. It begins to manifest itself noticeably at the age of 1-2 yearsand the symptoms are similar to those of aging .

Sometimes this name is called Hutchinson-Guildford syndrome. In 2003, the cause of progeria was detected – a gene mutation at 1824 of the LMNA gene,in which cytosine is replaced by thimine.

Child with progeria, premature aging

A child suffering from Hutchinson-Guildford syndrome. In green above: normal cell nucleus; below: cell nucleus of a suffering person with the syndrome. Credit: The Cell Nucleus and Aging: Tantalizing Clues and Hopeful Promises. Scaffidi et al.

Genetic Causes of Aging and How Centenarians Reveal Them

The oldest person whose age is well documented is the French woman from Arles Jean Louise Kalmann [ref. 14] (born February 21, 1875. An interesting phenomenon is longevity in women - most of the centenarians [ref. 15] are precisely women.

Jean Louise Calman in 1895

Jean Louise Calman in 1895.

Centenarians are an extremely interesting object for research by scientists who deal with aging, since their life expectancy is sometimes almost twice that of people born at the same time.

In addition to lifestyle, genes also matter for our life expectancy. [ref. 16]

Despite the interrelationships between these genes and centenarians, much more research is needed to clarify their role and importance.

 

Read more:

Are there benefits of a fasting diet

Epigenetics or how lifestyle governs our genes

 

References:

  1. Targeting senescent cells: approaches, opportunities, challenges. Aging (Albany NY). 2019
  2. Clearance of Senescent Glial Cells Prevents Tau-Dependent Pathology and Cognitive Decline. Nature. 2018
  3. Clinical trials of sinolytics in humans
  4. Free scientific articles on intermittent fasting
  5. Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease. N Engl J Med. 2020
  6. Small molecule SIRT1 activators for the treatment of aging and age-related diseases. Trends in pharmacological sciences. 2014
  7. Lifespan and healthspan extension by resveratrol. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease. 2015
  8. Telomeres. Wikipedia
  9. Telomeres, lifestyle, cancer, and aging. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012
  10. Associations between diet, lifestyle factors, and telomere length in women. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2010
  11. Nutrition, Oxidative Damage, Telomere Shortening, and Cellular Senescence: Individual or Connected Agents of Aging? Mol Genet Metab. 2000
  12. Physical exercise prevents cellular senescence in circulating leukocytes and in the vessel wall. Circulation. 2010
  13. www.progeriaresearch.org
  14. Jeanne Calment, Wikipedia
  15. List of oldest people in history, Wikipedia
  16. Aging Genetics and Aging. Aging Dis. 2011

 

The author:

👩 🔬 Rositsa Tashkova-Kacharova has a Bachelor degree in Molecular Biology and a Master's degree in Microbiology and Microbiological Control. She completed her Master's thesis at the University of Nantes, France. At that time she painted a Christmas tree of bacteria and inspired the announcement of the first competition for drawing with microorganisms Agar Art. For 3 years she was the editor of the journal Bulgarian Science and continues to write about science and medicine.