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What really causes ageing and can we influence it?

See there are two types of ageing:⁠

  1. Biological ageing called “senescence” or “intrinsic ageing” which follows a biological schedule. This is hard to protect against as it is a normal part of life⁠

  2. The other is from the effects of disuse and dis-ease resulting from environmental damage (causing organs and the body to malfunction), poor nutritional and lifestyle. You may not think that you have a dis-ease per say, but I am talking about two separate words “dis ease” in the body resulting in the body not working in harmony. This is why nutrition and lifestyle can play a significant role in modulating age-related changes in the body. ⁠

Recent scientific research has suggested that ageing is related to the following:⁠

  • Mitochondrial decline⁠: Free-radical induced damage to the mitochondria of cells which leads to progression of the ageing process. Mitochondria are the cell’s energy factories where the majority of the cells work is performed and 85% of where all oxygen is consumed. ⁠

  • Dysbiosis⁠: Gut dysbiosis is linked to any chronic diseases and increases the risk of these developing. Recent research has shown that gut microbiome imbalances are linked to age-related disease. The microbiome of individuals who have lived to 100+ year old was shown to be different to the average elderly population. The research showed centurions have more beneficial microbes (e.g. Akkermansia muciniphila). Also, Christensenellaceae which is since in individuals over 105+ years old. Why this? Because dysbiosis triggers a chain of pathological and inflammatory events in the body so if your microbiota isn’t healthy and balanced disease and excessive ageing can occur.

  • Inflammation⁠: Inflammation is a natural process the body goes through usually to protect us (e.g. in injuries and infections) however, when the inflammation turns from acute to chronic this is where it affects our body and the ageing process. Chronic inflammation degrades tissues and start degeneration in the body. Processed foods, sugars and meats contain pro-inflammation constituents and when they are consumed regularly the body is chronically inflamed. This has been titled “inflammaging”.

  • Glycation⁠: Glycation is a process caused excess glucose. This excess triggers an internal reaction where sugar molecules adhere to the collagen and elastin proteins. This then causes a reaction to create Advance Glycation End products (AGEs). These are destructive molecules which cause our skin to lose it’s supple and firm nature.

  • Oxidation⁠: Oxidative damage to cells from free-radicals. Free radicals damage cell membranes and other components of cells. When cells then don’t function well, they’re much more vulnerable to problems and die off more readily.

  • Telomere shortening⁠: Telomeres are the short caps at the ends of our DNA strands that stop the DNA from unraveling. Each time your cell divides the telomeres become shorter. Once the telomeres get so short, they can’t protect the DNA anymore and the DNA gets damaged and becomes unstable. The rate of the shortening is important to lifespan. Magnesium is necessary for proper functioning of telomerase. Lithium intake has been correlated with longer telomeres. Smoking and alcohol have been seen to have a shorter telomere length compared to those who didn’t smoke or drink. Additionally, studies have linked excessive alcohol consumption with faster biological aging at a cellular level.

  • Poor membrane permeability⁠: Another key process of ageing is poor cell membrane permeability. This leads to impaired cell communication and eventually a loss of cellular function

  • Insulin resistance⁠: Blood sugar dysregulation is linked to eight of the top 10 leading causes of death including cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic respiratory disease, kidney disease, and suicide. Diabetes increases the odds of premature death from most of these conditions.


But what if I was to tell you that the best thing you can do in defence against ageing is to focus on the foods you eat and the key supplements you take. Stay tuned to my blog and Instagram for key tips at how to defeat these! ⁠


Sources:

Biagi, E., Franceschi, C., Rampelli, S., Severgnini, M., Ostan, R., Turroni, S., … Candela, M., 2016. Gut Microbiota and Extreme Longevity. Current Biology, 26(11), 1480–1485


Choi, J., Hur, T.-Y., & Hong, Y., 2018. Influence of Altered Gut Microbiota Composition on Aging and Aging-Related Diseases. Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 8, 1–7.


Ragonnaud, E., Biragyn, A. Gut microbiota as the key controllers of “healthy” aging of elderly people. Immun Ageing 18, 2 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12979-020-00213-w


Shammas M. A. (2011). Telomeres, lifestyle, cancer, and aging. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 14(1), 28–34. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCO.0b013e32834121b1




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