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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Let’s wise up about growing older

There’s no need to feel miserable. Here are pointers you can keep in mind to “hold back the years”
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - July 8, 2010
By: Sheila Lim
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Let’s wise up about growing older

We’ve just crossed the halfway mark of 2010, so now’s a good time to take stock of things before the bursts of “Ho, ho, hos” and “Auld Lang Syne” signal the close of another fleeting year. That is when yet another frenzied bout of shopping, eating and partying will start and make us age even faster!

If you’ve examined yourself in the mirror recently and spotted more wrinkles, blemishes and sagging body parts, age is indeed catching up with you. But there’s no need to feel miserable. In fact, we should be glad that the wonders of science and affluent living standards have helped add at least a couple of decades or so to our life spans.

Until someone finally cracks the formula for the elixir for eternal youth, we’ll just have to gain a better understanding of the ageing process, so we know what we could possibly do to hold back the years ourselves. 

The process of ageing
As we age, the physical condition of our bodies naturally deteriorates. Once we enter middle age, we begin to find essential biological functions operating at a suboptimal level. For instance, the skin loses its firmness, smoothness and suppleness, joints become less flexible and limbs less dexterous, and our energy levels drop.

These are the main factors influencing the ageing process:

    Firstly, as we grow older, the number of “errors” incurred during daily cellular reproduction increases, and our bodies start creating nonfunctional cells. This leads to more rapid deterioration of bodily functions. As we advance further in age, a larger percentage of our cells are useless, and what’s worse is that these nonfunctional cells sometimes interfere with normal cellular processes.

    The second part of the ageing process is related to cellular damage leading to the fragmentation of DNA, which eventually triggers "programmed cell death" or apoptosis.

In normal cellular functions, free radical by-products are produced, and these attack the cell’s healthy DNA, destroy the cells and cause them to die prematurely.

    The third part of the ageing process involves the cellular down-regulation of natural oxidative enzymes, which reduces the efficiency of our antioxidant defences.

The natural antioxidant defence system in younger bodies functions effectively in "mopping up" the free radicals before they can cause damage. In older bodies, however, the antioxidant defence system becomes less efficient, and new cells cannot be regenerated fast enough to compensate for the loss incurred. 

Consequently, the increase in free radical damage impairs cellular regulation and functioning, and triggers ageing symptoms as well as various diseases.


Holding back the years