Rabu, 16 September 2009

Aging: Knowing The Signs

The aging process starts with a minimal decreasing in metabolism. Like with a car, early aging is the time when you just put your foot on the brakes. Organ function is only just starting to slow. Signs of aging are only just starting to pop up little by little. And those signs will not only be physical, but also psychological. The physical signs include diminishing muscle mass, increasing body fat level, sexual dysfunction, disorder of the joints and bones. The psychological signs may include depression, insomnia, anxiety, and so on.

When we age, all our body functions will deteriorate. All systems in the body, including the endocrine system, immune system, metabolism, sexual and reproductive system, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, muscular and skeletal system, and also the nervous system will feel the impact of the aging process. These deterioration that will then cause the signs and symptoms that show the manifestation of the aging process. Only if we do something to stop the signs from developing any further, will we have a longer and better quality life.

Minggu, 06 September 2009

Aging: A Few Theories

There are many theories that explain the factors contributing to aging process. Two of the most famous theories are the "wear and tear" theory and the "programmed aging" theory. The "wear and tear" explains that the causes of aging include DNA damage, glycosilation and free radicals. The "programmed aging" on the other hand explains that the factors include cell replication limit, immune process, and neuroendocrine theory.

The W&T basically tells us that our body weaken and die because of the continuous usage and damage of our cells. Our cells are damaged because of constant abuse by toxins, excess fat, sugar overload, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, UV rays, and stress. So, even if we were not smokers or alcoholic, our cells and therefore organs would still deteriorate. The difference is that with the additional abuse, the body would crumble a lot faster.

The free radicals hypothesis is up till now the most talked about theory of aging process. Free radicals are molecules with excess unpaired electron. These molecules are unstable and can create a chain reaction where unstable molecules will try to rip away electrons from other molecules to balance themselves. And the ones that are mobbed will be unstable also and become the next electron-robber. These reactions cause cellular dysfunction and contribute greatly to some diseases, such as atherosclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer syndrome, and immunity disorder.

The programmed aging theory talks about biological clock that is programmed from the day of conception to the day we die. One theory mentions about telomere, a special structure at the end of a chromosome. Every time a cell divide, the telomere will shorten. After a number of cell divisions, the telomere will be too short to be used for another division. The cell multiplication stops there.
Another theory talks about the role of hormone to aging process. When people grew old, their body would produce less hormones than when they were young. When the serum level dropped, there came the physical problems, such as intolerance to low temperature, difficulty to move, decreasing muscle mass, increasing body fat, memory disturbance, and sexual dysfunction.

Rabu, 02 September 2009

Aging: Why We Grow Old

People, on principal, grow old after they reach a certain point in their lives. Of course, it does not happen after we become an adult. It is an on-going process since birth. We just never call it growing old, just "growing". Some say growing old is a set-back, a repression, a descent. But none ever wonders why the event happen. Why do we grow old? Why do we get ill? In the end, no one questions, why do we die?

We accept it as the course of nature. People have to grow old, get sick and die. Some even go as far as saying, life is predetermined by fate. Now, what's with that? I kind of understand about it being a natural occurrence. But fate? Not so much. It wouldn't be fair.

As all people of the world agree, we cannot stop time, we also admit our inability to stop death. It happens. Get over it. The thing we can get our hands on is the getting sick part. We just need to know what causes said disease. Simple, really. Not.

Alright, not so simple. But we can simply simplify it. OK, we take a jumble of factors and divide them into two categories, the internal factors (IFs) and the external factors (EFs). Under IFs, we put genetic factor, immune system disturbance, hormonal imbalance, and other inappropriate metabolic processes that I don't understand. Oh, and free radicals, must not forget that.
Under EFs, we can jot down bad life style, bad diet, bad habit, pollution, stress, and all other bad things.

See? Simple.

These factors, we can meddle in. Hopefully, an intervention at a right time can prolong life. Or at least, can make us live healthy longer.