Our whole bodies are made from cells which group together to form our tissues and organs. Ageing is the name of the process when cell death starts to occur faster than cell replication.
Overtime cells become damaged and repair mechanisms struggle to keep up. In addition, during ageing, cells that normally divide rapidly such as those in the skin and the gut begin to reach the end of their lifecycles.
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 vigor
- 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
- A loss or decrease in vision and hearing
- Reduced sense of taste and smell
- Changes in digestive function
- Decrease in libido
- Sexual dysfunction
- Urinary problems
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Difficulty managing weight
- Development of degenerative disease
Ageing itself is a natural process but certain factors can cause the signs and symptoms of ageing to appear early. Premature ageing can begin at any age and is influenced by:
Oxidative stress – The overall underlying cause of premature ageing it thought to be oxidative damage. This is caused by chemicals called free radicals. Some free radicals are made in the body but there are also a huge number of external sources. Sun exposure, pollution, fried foods, smoking and alcohol all increase free radicals in the body. Normally the body has very good mechanisms for mopping these chemicals up, but if we are constantly exposed to high levels of free radicals and don’t support our body’s defence mechanism, they can easily become over whelmed. This leads to damage to cells and DNA 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 synthesizing some of our vitamins! If you regularly experience any kind of digestive discomfort you may like to consider A Stool Analysis Test which can be used to determine the efficiency of the digestive process.
Stress – Stress by its very nature causes the body to produce many more free radicals than normal, which can lead to increased levels of oxidative damage implicated in premature ageing. Recent studies have also shown that stress actually shortens the lifecycle of cells. If stress is a significant factor in your life you may want to consider An Adrenal Stress Test. This will help identify key imbalances in stress hormones, which Smart Nutrition can then help to correct, helping you feel happier, healthier and younger!
Heavy metals – The body finds it very difficult to get rid of certain non nutritional metals so they can accumulate within our systems can push out some of the essential metals we need to function properly. They can also form free radicals and add to our oxidative stress, influencing the ageing process. If you have an occupation where you are exposed to heavy metals or you are interested in finding out whether you have a heavy metal toxicity you might wish to have A Hair Mineral Analysis Test completed.