Today's healthcare challenges and tomorrow's opportunity can only be met by those who search out deeper explanations of the body processes that generate health and disease. Life expectancy has increased due to advances in medical science. However it has come with little progress towards quality of life or the length of disease-free years in the majority of population.
Aging has been a fact of life ever since it was created. Human beings go through various phases of life from being child to youth to being adult with youth being the best part of life from health point of view. Good health, strong muscles, an efficient immune system, a sharp memory and a healthy brain are characteristic of ideal youth. The hormones work at their peak capacity during the youth years.
Anti-Aging medicine aims to maintain or achieve this irrespective of chronological age i.e. to stay healthy and biologically efficient.
The prestigious scientific journal, Biogerontology, defines aging as: “The progressive failing ability of the body's own intrinsic and genetic powers to defend, maintain and repair itself in order to keep working efficiently.”
Aging has been believed to be inherent, universal, progressive natural phenomenon. It is detrimental with no benefits except perhaps wisdom. But now there is a paradigm shift in looking at the aging process based on firmly documented evidence in medical and scientific literature.
Many natural aging mechanisms frequently result in actual diseases. From this we can conclude that fighting an aging process may well bring about an improvement of an age related illness.
When glucose molecules and other sugars such as fructose attach themselves to proteins, it is called glycation. This results in brownish discoloration of tissues. The binding of sugar to protein causes cross linking of proteins. Cross linked proteins cause more damage by reacting with free radicals and other toxins to create Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs).
When ‘methyl groups’ are being added to different constituents of the proteins, DNA and other molecules to keep them in good, active condition, it is called methylation. Any chronic inflammation process affects methylation because the immune system, which is heavily involved in fighting inflammation, gorges itself on methyl groups, leaving nothing for other tissues of the body.
There are scientists who believe that most age related changes in the body are due to chronic inflammation. When there is chronic inflammation, the body tissues are eaten away by toxic chemicals, resulting in dementia, thickening of the arteries, arthritis, diabetes, hormonal imbalance and so on.Anti-aging medicine is an evolving branch of medical science and applied medicine. It treats the underlying causes of aging and aims at alleviating any age related ailment. Its goal is to extend the healthy lifespan of humans having youthful characteristics.
What causes aging?
aging results in imbalance of hormones in the body or one can also ask “Does hormonal imbalance cause aging?” Hormones such as growth hormone, melatonin and DHEA need to be replaced or reactivated during aging to prevent the body from falling apart.
How to put anti-aging program together?
Enhance health through eating a hormonally correct diet
Enrich body with optimum doses of proven antioxidants
Improve physical exercise performance, which includes aerobic, anaerobic and flexibility training
Replace hormones to levels to those of 20-30 years old.
Future of anti-aging medicine
The future will involve manipulating genes, increasing utilization of stem cells (embryonic and adult) and targeted delivery of nutrients and drugs using nanotechnology.
Aging is a progressive failure of metabolic processes. There is a concept of pause that every organ ages at a different rate. To a certain extent it is based on hormones. All these have been put forth into various theories as follows:
Free Radical Theory
The Nuroendocrine Theory
Telomerase Theory of Aging
The Wear and Tear Theory
The Rate of Living Theory
The Waste Product Accumulation Theory
The Cross-linking Theory
The Immune Theory
Theories of Errors and Repairs
The Order to Disorder Theory
Some of these contradict and others overlap. But underlying these are three main biochemical processes involved in aging. These are oxidation, glycation and methylation. Other relevant processes are chronic inflammation and hormonal deregulation.
Free radicals are a group of simple compounds with an electron missing from their chemical structure. Free radicals in small and controlled quantities are useful in everyday metabolism. These free radicals are mainly produced during oxygen metabolism within the cells. The problem starts when the production of these free radicals increases and goes out of control. Free radicals damage the cell membrane which is composed of lipids and proteins. Their interaction results in the production of the chemical Melondialdehyde which is very harmful, contributing to another important aging process called glycation.