The idea of being immortal has been something of a fantasy that is kept in fiction, assigned to those with superhuman abilities. And that we’re afraid looks like it will be the case. Humans decay, it is as simple as that.
Our cells regenerate every 7 to 10 years, making us a ‘new’ person each time. However, the rate of generation slows as we spend more time on this earth as our systems start to tire over time.
What makes us old?
Biologically, there are few aspects that contribute to us getting older if we look at a microscopic cellular level.
Muscle fibre reproduction reduces the older we get, in particular the fast-twitch type II glycolic fibres, which is why it is common for older individuals to slow down.
A by-product of losing muscle as we age, our metabolism slows down. Since muscle utilises more energy than fat this change in our body as we age causes our metabolism to slow. Which explains why it is easier for someone in their twenties to lose weight than someone in their seventies even if they did the same exercise.
Collagen production decreases each year after the age of 20. If you compare the skin of a baby to that of an adult, you will notice a range of differences. Most notably the adult’s skin will be that bit rougher, have more lines and even pigmentation from UV exposure. The main cause of this is because collagen production reduces as we get older. While we have an abundance of this in our youth, it declines rapidly each year. Since collagen is important for cartilage, joints and connective tissue production, we tend to suffer more with mobility issues as we age.
How to live longer
While we can’t stave off death, we can learn a lot from centenarians and what they do have a life of longevity.
Essentially the best thing to do it live a healthy life at a younger age as possible. By incorporating exercise and balanced diet in our lives, we can keep our bodies going for longer.
Other aspects that can help include, minimising UV exposure, getting enough sleep, not smoking and drinking responsibly.
Ultimately, there isn’t a Holy Grail that can help preserve our bodies in our youth, but remember age is just a number, and the earlier you start taking care of it the longer you are likely to live.
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