Our whole bodies are made from cells which group together to form our tissues and organs. Ageing is name we give to the process of cell death occuring faster than cell replication.
Over time, cells become damaged and repair mechanisms struggle to keep up. Ageing causes cells that normally divide efficiently, such as those in the skin and the gut, to reach the end of their lifecycles more rapidly.
Ageing is also characterised by changes to the structure of proteins in the body. As we get older, cell proteins start to form cross linkages with nearby fats. This is particularly common in the skin – and is the underlying cause of wrinkles.
Common signs and symptoms of ageing include:
- An overall decrease in energy and vigour
- The tendency to become easily tired
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Decreased memory
- Behavioural changes
- Skin and hair changes – wrinkles, brown spots on the skin, loss of skin elasticity, changes in hair colour
- Loss of or decrease in vision and hearing
- Reduced sense of taste and smell
- Changes in digestive function
- Decrease in libido
- Sexual dysfunction
- Urinary problems
- Changes to, and eventual cessation of menstrual cycle
- Difficulty managing weight
- Development of degenerative disease
Ageing itself is a natural process, but certain factors cause the signs and symptoms of ageing to appear early. Premature ageing can begin at any age and is influenced by:
Oxidative stress: this is thought to be the overall underlying cause of premature ageing. The body naturally produces chemicals called free radicals for which it has sophisticated regulation mechanisms. Sun exposure, pollution, fried foods, smoking and alcohol all increase free radical levels. Constant exposure to high levels can overwhelm the body’s defence mechanisms, leading to cell and DNA damage which accelerates the ageing process.
Poor digestion: optimum digestion is vital for proper absorption of the nutrients needed to keep cells healthy and fight free radicals. Stomach acid and digestive enzymes are critical for proper digestion of protein, which is needed to build and repair tissues. On top of this, friendly bacteria in the small intestine and bowel help to break down food into absorbable forms – as well as synthesising some of our vitamins!
If you regularly experience digestive discomfort, Smart Nutrition’s Stool Analysis Test can assess the efficiency of your digestive process.
Stress: stress causes the body to produce many more free radicals than normal, which can lead to the increased levels of oxidative damage associated with premature ageing. Recent studies have also shown that stress actually shortens the lifecycle of cells.
If stress is a significant factor in your life, an Adrenal Stress Test can measure your levels of stress hormones. Smart Nutrition can then help to correct imbalances – helping you feel happier, healthier and younger.
Heavy metals: the body finds it very difficult to get rid of certain non-nutritional metals. They can accumulate within our systems, pushing out essential metals we need to function properly. Heavy metals can also form free radicals which add to our oxidative stress, accelerating the ageing process.
If your occupation exposes you to heavy metals, or you’re interested in finding out whether you have a heavy metal toxicity, there are two ways of testing: you can chose between a Hair Mineral Analysis or a Urine Test.