Why do we age? There are various theories proposed and the five most popular involve free radicals and oxidative stress, glycation, inflammation, neuron doctrine decline and DNA damage and mutation. Today we will focus on free radicals and inflammation. Free radicals are molecules in the body with an unpaired electron in the outer shell. They actually attack and damage other molecules including DNA, cell membranes and collagen, which is a supporting structure of the skin. Free radical damage can cause atherosclerosis,cancer, macular degeneration, cataracts, hypertension, diabetes and neurodegeneration. Interestingly, sources of free radicals include environmental pollutants, smoking, immune dysfunction, stress, respiration and metabolism, excess aerobic exercise and poor nutrition. Management of free radical formation includes prevention. Avoid sources such as sun, radiation, toxins and smoke. Reduce their formation by caloric restriction, stress management and not over exercising. Free radicals can be eliminated with antioxidants in proper dosages.
When speaking of inflammation we define acute inflammation as the body’s first response to injury, illness, infection or stress. SILENT inflammation on the other hand involves overproduction of pro- inflammatory molecules and imbalances of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids, overproduction of insulin and cortisol both of which increase insulin resistance and depress the immune system. Silent inflammation and it’s consequences comes from lifestyle factors such as inactivity, obesity, diet, free radicals, hypertension, hormonal imbalances. It also increases with age. Related diseases include atherosclerosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, diabetes, allergic diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. Decrease this silent inflammation by avoiding processed vegetable oils and animal fats, avoiding refined carbohydrates. Increase your intake of fish oils and vitamin D, exercise and manage stress levels.
As you can see, lifestyle plays an important if not the most important role in decreasing free radicals and inflammation and thus slowing down the aging process!