Has it happened to you? Sagging skin. Thinning hair. Brittle bones. Love handles. Forgetfulness. Indescribable aches and pains. It’s hard to believe that would happen to robust, youthful you. Until it does. Proof: You’re old. Ick.
How does it happen? In the past, anti-aging experts looked at aging as a cumulative process, meaning that over time, our bodies deteriorate. But the latest research indicates that aging could really be an active, not passive, process brought on by five key controllable factors.
Notice I say “controllable.” Yes, aging is largely within our control, less a product of our genes than of how we take care of ourselves. How well, or how poorly, you age, is in very large part up to you.
What You Can Control
There are five major factors that cause aging. When you understand their impact on every system of the body, you can slow the decline and prolong youthful vitality.
No matter how old you are, you’ll have more going for you in terms of energy, memory, mobility, keener senses, a fitter body, and more. If you control these factors as they apply to every key system in your body, you’ll be postponing old age. Let’s talk about the five factors now.
Factor #1: Chronic Inflammation: Your Body’s Wildfire
Want to prevent heart problems, diabetes, or cancer? How about joint stiffness or dementia? Then pay close attention to what inflammation can do to your body.
Inflammation is essentially a fire within the body that helps to battle germs and responds to trauma and injury. It’s normally temporary when pro-inflammatory hormones dispatch troops of white blood cells to fight infection and repair damaged tissue.
Once those threats are over, anti-inflammatory hormones are called in to complete the healing process. This chain of events is referred to as “acute” inflammation.
But sometimes that fire rages or gets out of control. What started as normal, healthy mechanism doesn’t ebb-it keeps flowing. When this occurs in dangerous places such as your arteries or joints, there is cell damage, and you can become quite ill and debilitated.
This type of inflammation is termed “chronic.” In fact, it’s kind of inflammation that’s thought to be at the core of almost every modern disease known to man, from heart disease to Alzheimer’s to cancer.
We don’t know exactly what causes chronic inflammation, but we do know that you can actually inflame the body if you smoke, get over weight, never exercise, and can’t manage stress. Sound familiar?
Pretty much everyone I know has been guilty of something on this list in their lifetime. But it’s not too late to extinguish inflammation in the body, even if you’ve put health on the back burner for many years.
Factor #2: Oxidative Stress and Free Radicals
Have you ever noticed how iron rusts so quickly? The reason for that rust is a chemical process called oxidation–it means electrons are being removed from an atom or molecule in the iron. Now, oxidation itself isn’t a bad thing—it goes on around us and in our bodies all the time.
But too much oxidation is called oxidative stress, which essentially means the cells in your body are being damaged. Oxidative stress further depletes antioxidants, injures tissues, and leaves the body vulnerable to premature aging.
Over time, free radicals can amass in the body and lead to major health problems, such as cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
If free radicals are the enemy, then who is the ally in the war against aging? Antioxidants! As you might be able to guess from their name, antioxidants can actually five one of their electrons to the free radicals.
If stress is hindering you from getting restful sleep at night:
I highly recommend this e-book, The Stress Response, which you can download for free.
Factor #3: Glycation: Are You Tangled Up?
Glycation is a process in your body in which the sugar and protein molecules from your food all get stuck together, causing a big, tangled mess.
So this tough, jumbled tissue mass, as you can imagine, wreaks havoc on the flexibility of your organs, actually causing them to stiffen. Stiffness in, say your heart can drastically affect its ability to pump blood.
If red blood cells get glycated, they’ll have a shortened life span. Your body won’t get as much oxygen as it did before, and you’ll feel tired, run down, and out of breath frequently. Glycated white blood cells are unable to fight infection, meaning you’ll get sick more often.
Molecules of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) can become glycated to—a process that prevents the normal shutdown of cholesterol synthesis in the liver. As a result, cholesterol levels soar, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and causing cardiac deterioration.
Factor #4: Methylation: Put the Brakes on Aging
If you want to increase your mental capabilities, prevent an untimely death from a heart attack or stroke, and keep cancer far away, you should get familiar with a biological process called methylation. This is a vital process within your body’s cells, A it determines whether you correctly absorb and properly integrate vitamins, enzymes, and other chemical compounds in the body.
Methylation is directly related to DNA, the molecule that gives your body’s cells a “blueprint” on how to function properly.
It acts like a gas pedal or brake and can turn unnecessary gene activity up or down. When it’s occurring correctly, methylation keeps your DNA in good working condition.
So how do you make sure your body is methylating properly, regardless of your age?
You can treat the cause, which is often deficiency in the B vitamin, folic acid. There are foods you can eat such as eggs and seeds that are high in folic acid, and there are medications you can avoid because they cause improper absorption of folic acid.
Factor #5: Immune System: Don’t Let Your Guard Down
One way we get sick is by catching something, such as a cold, a sore throat, or an infection of some type. Once of the main reasons we catch something is that our immune system is impaired, and millions of infectious particles invade our body. You’ve got to keep your immune “guard” at the ready!
How can you tell if your immune system isn’t working up to par? Easy: if you’re getting a lot of colds and flu every year, if it takes sores and infections a long time to heal, or if your white blood cell count is low as indicated through your annual blood work, then your immune system is weakening. You can bolster it easily with regular hand washing, proper nutrition, none-to-moderate alcohol intake and no smoking.
It’s worth mentioning here that all five factors of aging are somewhat interrelated, so the lifestyle and behavior changes you make in one factor impact the other four.
Thank you for reading this article on the 5 factors of aging. Please share and comment below!
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