Hi and welcome back to part two of 'The Four Killers That Accelerate The Ageing Process'
There are four very important cell processes that are correlated with DNA damage and ageing of the skin;
OXIDATION, GLYCATION, METHYLATION & INFLAMMATION
Lets take a look at these in a little more detail...
Every minute of every day, the cells in our body generate huge quantities of molecules called FREE RADICALS.
Heard of Free Radicals before? Great! Not sure what a free radical is? Ok let me explain....
Free Radicals are unstable molecules that contain unpaired electrons. Electrons prefer to be paired up with another electron in order to balance electrical charge, so free radicals will snatch or steal electrons from nearby molecules in order to create stability.
Sorry I know that is a bit of a technical explanation!
This phenomenon of stealing electrons is called OXIDATIVE STRESS. A natural process that takes place, a direct result of breathing oxygen and eating food that our cells use to generate the energy that keeps them functioning. The body does an excellent job at keeping free radicals in check. Our body is naturally programmed to fight against free radicals with an antioxidant system.
Still over time, as we age, the body's ability to control OXIDATIVE STRESS becomes slightly less efficient. In addition to this oxidative stress, our habbits and activities in our daily lives can contribute to even more oxidative stress. Smoking cigarettes, exposure to UV sunlight, and environmental toxins also lead to the production of free radicals in the body.
So what does this have to do with your health and appearance?
When free radicals attack the different layers of our skin, they speed up the formation of wrinkles and other imperfections.
When free radicals cause damage to lipids of cellular membranes, the defensive barrier is harmed.
Oxidation induces inflammation and causes EARLY-ONSET AGEING!
Free radicals also oxidize DNA and RNA - essentially, what constitute our genetic makeup.
Finally, during oxidation, structural (hyaluronic acid, collagen, etc) and regulatory proteins are oxidized. Causing structural and functional damage to our bodies - including our skin
At its most basic level, think of GLYCATION as a sneak attack by SUGARS.
When you eat sugar or refined carbohydrates, the body turns them into GLUCOSE.
High levels of BLOOD GLUCOSE in turn create sugarcoated proteins, which go to form ADVANCED GLYCATION end products.
These latch onto receptors and alter the chemical properties of proteins, lipids and DNA.
At the skin level, the most microscopic damage occurs to the extra cellular matrices, directly affecting COLLAGEN and ELASTIN, causing these essential molecules to loose their characteristics, becoming rigid and giving the formation of wrinkles and reduced capacity for healing.
The reason we do not see the harm when we are young is because our youthful bodies have more defenses to block damage, plus we produce more collagen when we are young. But by the time you enter your 30's, you have had decades of harmful exposure, UV rays and air pollution. This is around the time many people start to see age spots and skin darkening.
Damage from glycation isn't limited to your skin. This degenerative process accompanied by glycation compromises the function of bones, cartilage, teeth, muscle and the cardiovascular system. Research shows that chronic high levels of blood glycation could increase your chances od developing diabetes and heart disease - in other words, a decrease in your longevity.
Even though we can not eliminate sugar completely from our diets - we need glucose to live, it is an essential fuel for our cells - making better lifestyle choices can help.
Eating fewer sugary foods that contain white sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) and refined carbohydrates is key to helping your body and your skin.
Another spot of good news?
Now that researchers know that glycation is a primary cause of skin ageing, anti ageing creams are formulated with compounds that fight Advanced Glycation End Products and aim to stimulate the fibroblasts to build NEW COLLAGEN!
Methylation influences which genes are activated and which are not. It is a biochemical process essential to maintain the functionality of cells. Vitamins, hormones, neurotransmitters and antibodies work only if methylation occurs correctly.
Another crucial role of methylation is to reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a toxic compound produced during cell metabolism. Indeed the very function of cells - to generate energy - results in the formation of a variety of harmful byproducts. For this reason, our body has developed many natural systems of defense and detoxification: one of them is methylation. Unfortunately, as we age methylation becomes less effective. The result is an increase in the opportunity for poor cellular function and disease.
So how does it work?
Its a complicated process but here are the basics; during methylation a methyl group, which is comprised of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms, gets added to a specific on our DNA. We get nutrients and Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid in particular, which have a fundamental role in cycles that regulate methylation.
If a person's diet lacks sufficient levels of proper nutrients, B Vitamins and folic acid, the methylation process will not function properly (the reason is because without proper dietary intake, there are not enough methyl groups in your body to make methylation happen)
This leads to disease and poor health, and the result is an increase in blood levels of homocysteine.
Aside from an unhealthy diet, researchers have also discovered that a sedentary lifestyle - not getting daily exercise, may also contribute to poor methylation.
Sustaining the process of methylation through healthy eating and exercise is vital for health and longevity.
These days almost anyone interested in reading about health and wellness is coming across pages and pages of unflattering articles about the process of inflammation.
But beyond the buzz of newspapers is the fundamental fact that (despite all the negative press) inflammation is one of the bodies most important defenses against infection and trauma.
Think of it as your own personal superhero protecting you against invading viruses and bacteria.
It comes to the rescue when we fall down and scrape our knee or break a bone. Without inflammation bruises and wounds wouldn't heal. When we accidentally cut ourselves with a knife while chopping vegetables, the inflammation response directs more blood flow to the area of the injury; this includes white blood cells, which fight infection. Doctors refer to this as acute inflammation.
Inflammation can have a dark side. When the beneficial acute inflammation becomes chronic inflammation, it can actually fight against perfectly healthy cells and can cause disease. When this happens inflammation becomes a negative force with regards to your health. Inflammatory processes, especially chronic inflammation, has been associated with a number of serious chronic illnesses: cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimers, muscle wasting, diabetes and frailty. This negative response means that inflammation may be more important contributing factor in the damage and deterioration associated with ageing.
Ageing is characterized by a chronic state of slight inflammation tied to both genetics and the individual development of immune system responses. In the long run, this inflammatory process may compromise organs and reduce longevity by increasing sensitivity to certain risk factors.
This fact makes inflammation a silent threat that grows stronger by the day. And even though it id asymptomatic, it may potentially be more dangerous than we'd ever thought. One of the main ways to combat chronic inflammation is through healthy lifestyle habits - focus your efforts on relaxing your mind, getting regular exercise and eating foods that contain anti inflammatory compounds, like vegetables and nuts.
Think of these habits as your very own tea of superheroes to help you to be healthy as you can be.
I hope you enjoyed this article, I know it is quite scientific and quite lengthy, however it is so important to know about the human body and its function! Think of it as learning about yourself, not the 'human body'
Until next time....