Why We Age: Discover the Reasons
While it’s true that we don’t all age at the same rate or in the same way, it’s clear that aging is an inevitable physiological process that brings with it many changes in our bodies.
But why do we age and what really happens in our bodies to make it happen? We’ll tell you why we age and everything you need to know about this process.
What is aging?
Aging is defined as a set of changes that occur in the body, both morphological and functional, as a result of the passage of time. This process means that the body, in general, gradually loses its capabilities. Eventually, a failure in the function of one or more organs leads to the death of the person.
Thanks to scientific advances, people’s life expectancy has increased considerably, especially in the first world. However, aging, besides being inevitable, is still a process that scares many people.
We all want to live longer and with a good quality of life. That is why we often wonder why we age. We’ll talk about what really happens.
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Why do we age?
Science has made increasing progress in deciphering what actually happens in the aging process. Experts have discovered different modifications that take place at a molecular level and that would explain the changes we observe on a large scale in people. Some of these changes are as follows:
Damage to the genome
The genome is the set of genetic material consisting of DNA, which is present in each cell of our body. It contains information for the formation and function of every part of the human body. Over time, physical and chemical agents and even the individual’s own substances constantly damage the genome.
DNA itself has a mechanism for detecting and repairing damage. However, over the years, the alterations become greater and greater and the mechanism begins to fail. As a result, they accumulate. Cells and organs can stop functioning as they should and cancer, for example, can start to form.
Why do we age? Telomere instability
Our DNA is organized into chromosomes, which are a condensed form of genetic material. They’re especially important in cell division. Telomeres are the ends of these chromosomes. They’re responsible for giving stability to the structure and helping cell division to occur correctly.
What happens is that, with the successive divisions that the cell carries out, these telomeres become shorter. As a result, there’s a loss of stability in the genome which, in the end, will result in further cell damage and mutations.
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Loss of protein balance
Our genetic material contains the information necessary for the formation and structural conformation of proteins. Proteins are very important molecules in our bodies. They carry out various functions, such as transporting other substances, supporting certain structures, or transmitting messages.
When DNA is damaged, the instructions for these molecules to form and fold correctly fail. This then causes proteins to form that can’t carry out their function.
If this occurs on a large scale and many diseases accumulate, the processes of the human body are affected. The more genetic damage there is, the more proteins there are in a bad state and the more functions fail. Therefore, everything is linked to aging.
Why do we age? Other changes
In addition to those mentioned above, a number of other changes also occur in the cells. Some of them are as follows:
- The depletion of stem cells: They lose their ability to divide and produce young cells.
- Cell communication problems, which may be due to the dysfunctional proteins we’ve discussed, for example.
- The accumulation of toxic substances in the mitochondria due to respiratory processes.
The set of all these changes and processes that take place at a molecular level result in a deterioration of the functions of the body’s organs and systems. This loss of function is what we observe as aging.
In addition to this, we must keep in mind that aging doesn’t depend only on our genetic material. The lifestyle we lead and the substances and conditions we expose ourselves to also have a considerable influence.
For this reason, it’s important to lead a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet, exercise, and avoiding substances that can be harmful, such as tobacco or alcohol. Aging is inevitable, but everyone can try to do it in the best way possible.