- Aging & Longevity
Human Aging: The Wear and Tear Theory
This is the most accepted theory of aging which provides logical explanations of physiological changes.
The theory states that prolong abuse results in overuse of the body which can destroy cells in the body.
The skin is a good example. The skin is one of the most neglected organ of the body and one that is exposed to harsh environments. Environmental exposure to the ultraviolent rays of the sun causes damage to the skin. It alters the cellular structure and affects the production of collagen and elasticity which gives the skin its youthful and hydrated appearance. The prolonged exposure to the environment over many years contributes to age-related changes. In fact, skin changes are the most outstanding evidence of aging.
Internally, prolonged lifestyle practices such as eating habits, results in increase consumption of high fat and salty food. This alters the characteristics of blood vessels which cause hypertension. Hypertension places pressure on the kidneys and the entire cardiovascular system which then experiences progressive wear and tear over time. In addition, the world is not an easy place to survive due to high level of emotional stress. Stress is a normal adaptation process that is required to achieve certain goals, but excess stress places the body under pressure by increasing blood pressure. Prolonged exposure to stress can result in heart conditions.
It is important to understand that cells are the smallest unit in the body. A group of specialized cells form tissue and tissues forms organs. Therefore, changes in the organs actually start at the very smallest unit which is at the cellular level. The body goes through constant cellular changes daily through cellular proliferation which allows new cells to be laid down and old cells to be engulfed and destroyed. This means that our mere existence is a dynamic process. Wear and tear is a natural process despite our lifestyle choices or eating habits. The body will age despite our habits; however, external factors exacerbate the changes. Our organs are constantly working to maintain a homeostatic environment to sustain life. This alone is a form of wear and tear which is inevitable as long as life is present.
Our body‘s response to stress changes over time. During younger years, the body’s ability to endure stress and changes is greater. There is quick recovery from illness due to prompt and aggressive immune response. As the body ages, the recovery time is slower because of reduced immune response. With increase age, there is decrease body resistance to microorganisms such as virus and bacteria that cause diseases.
For example, the development of urinary tract infection occurs from bacteria. The condition occurs less frequently in a young person because of the natural washout mechanism of the bladder. The body has the ability to flush out the bacteria with a powerful stream of urine. With advanced age, the bladder loses its tone and there is increased residual urine remaining in the bladder. The stream of urine also declines due to decreased bladder tone which facilitates the excretion of urine from the bladder. In addition to that, the urine has bactericidal effect that destroys invading microorganisms. Because of reduced immune response, the bactericidal effect of urine also decreases which allows invading microorganism to settle in the residual urine and multiply giving rise to urinary tract infection.
However, the wear and tear process can be reversed with proper nutrition and specific treatments.
These will rejuvenate the cells which influence tissue and organ functions.
Once the body is stimulated to replenish itself, the vital functions will be recovered.
For example, cranberry juice increased acidity of the urine which improves the bactericidal action in urine. Pelvic exercises can improve bladder tone which will help in emptying the bladder effectively. Finally, wear and tear is highly individualized. Certain factors have to be taken into consideration such as genetic makeup, environmental exposure, lifestyle and nutritional practices.
Theories of Aging
There are four basic theories of aging, (click to learn more):