What is Anti-Aging?
We all know the obvious signs of aging: wrinkles, gray hair, a slightly stooped posture, perhaps some "senior moments" of forgetfulness. But why do those things happen? What is aging?
Each of us is made up of cells—13 trillion of them. Our tissues and organs are each a bunch of cells, held together with various natural materials that the cells have made.
From the moment of conception, each of our cells—and, hence, our tissues and organs—begins a process of aging. Early in life, of course, we still are growing, and expanding the number of cells that we have. The cells are aging, but so slightly that we can't see it: we just see the body growing and developing.
At some point in life, often in the ‘30s, the tell-tale signs of aging begin to be apparent. They can be seen in everything from our vital signs (like blood pressure) to our skin, to our bone and joints, to our cardiovascular, digestive, and nervous systems, and beyond. Some aging changes begin early in life. For example, your metabolism starts to gradually decline beginning at about age 20. Changes in your hearing, on the other hand, do not usually begin until age 50 or later.
We do not yet fully understand the complex interplay of factors that cause us to age as we do. We know that many different things affect aging: genetics, diet, exercise, illness, and a host of other factors, all of which contribute to the aging process.
A series of remarkable biological research studies since the 1990s have identified genes that can profoundly influence the rate at which cells, and animals, age. The good news from these studies is that biological changes that extend life also seem to extend vitality: animals that live longer remain quite healthy for most of their lengthened life.
Causes of Anti-Aging
- Collagen breakdown
Represents 75% of the skin’s dry weight. The quantity and quality play a major role in the skin’s appearance. Slowing down the breakdown and degradation of collagen fibers is vital to skin youth.
- Photo Defence
Repeated exposure to ultraviolet light (UV radiation) from the sun accounts for almost 90% of symptoms of premature skin aging, skin damage, and skin cancer. The sun is carcinogenic and harmful to the skin. Just a few minutes of sun exposure each day over the years can cause noticeable changes to the skin. "Photoaging occurs over a period of years. With more and more exposure to the sun, something very significant happens. The skin never forgets, just like an elephant. And with each insult, it loses its ability to repair itself, and damage accumulates. Scientific studies have shown that repeated ultraviolet (UV) exposure breaks down collagen and impairs the synthesis of new collagen. The sun also attacks our elastin. Sun-weakened skin ceases to spring back much earlier than skin protected from UV rays. Skin also becomes loose, wrinkled, and leathery much earlier with unprotected exposure to sunlight." This process will also multiply and increase the size of wrinkles.
This process starts with free radicals which are highly reactive small molecules that can damage virtually any molecule in the body, including the important cellular structures found in the body’s largest organ – the skin. This kind of free radical damage leads to the generation of even more free radicals which create havoc in every layer of the skin hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis. Our bodies have been built with internal antioxidants, but they are not enough to protect our skin from irreversible breakdown.
This is the skin’s first line of defense against foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Inflammation also initiates the tissue healing process and limits the damage to skin cells caused by everyday chemicals and pollutants. Whilst it is helpful in the short term, excessive (chronic) inflammation is one of the most common themes in early-onset skin aging. Subtle signs include skin sensitivity, redness, and irritation.
Sad to say sugar does make you age faster. Glycation causes the skin proteins (like collagen and elastin) to lose their ability to function normally and is now well recognized and heavily implicated in accelerated skin aging. Glycation occurs when excess bodily glucose molecules link to the skin’s collagen and elastin fibers. This cross-linking can form chemical bridges between proteins. Glycated fibers can become rigid, less elastic, and have reduced regenerative ability which can lead to damage such as laxity, cracking, and thinning skin.
Symptoms of Aging
We each age at different rates, and to different degrees, and yet we experience many common effects of aging. Some common signs and symptoms of aging include:
Increased susceptibility to infection
Greater risk of heatstroke or hypothermia
A slight decrease in height as the bones of our spines get thinner and lose some height
- Bones break more easily
- Joint changes, ranging from minor stiffness to severe arthritis
- Stooped posture
- Slowed and limited movement
- The decrease in overall energy
- Urinary incontinence
- Slight slowing of thought, memory, and thinking (however, delirium, dementia, and severe memory loss are NOT a normal part of aging)
- Reduced reflexes and coordination and difficulty with balance
- The decrease in visual acuity
- Diminished peripheral vision
- Some degree of hearing loss
- Wrinkling and sagging skin
- Whitening or graying of hair
- Weight loss, after age 55 in men and after age 65 in women, in part due to loss of muscle tissue.
Stem cell Treatment for Anti-Aging
Aging impacts diseases and lifespan. With current knowledge of stem cells, it is feasible to design and test interventions that delay aging and improve both health and lifespan. Stem cells, together with anti-aging genes such as Klotho, play a crucial role in delaying the aging process.
Stem cells in combination with anti-aging genes make a complex and protective shield, which stands against the eroding effects of aging. Increased wear and tear of the stem cells, as well as Klotho deficiency, are expected to heavily increase cellular damage and accelerate the process of aging. Stem cells in conjugation with anti-aging genes probably receive and neutralize most of the devastating signaling effects which are known to cause premature aging.
The shield of stem cells combined with anti-aging genes is a primary target for absorbing the shock of aging. If this shield neutralizes the shocks, it could lead to a youthful state, but if not it will accelerate the aging journey. In this review, we concisely discuss the neutralizing ability, operated and regulated by stem cells and other life-extension factors. We suggest that stem cell interventions that increase rejuvenation and keep in balance the expression of anti-aging genes could delay the aging phenotypes and result in a prolonged lifespan.