For some, 40 is the new 50. If you are ageing faster than everyone else around you, now is the time to start turning back that clock You had always dreaded it, but it has happened.
With all that thinning of hair, crow’s feet and tired skin, the college reunion photo has you looking pointedly old.Twenty years, you tell yourself, shouldn’t have taken this harsh a toll. Duke University’s Center for the Study of Ageing and Human Development has tried unpacking a familiar conundrum -why do some of us look ancient while that one batch mate stays forever young?
Research done at Duke shows that between the ages 26 and 38, some people do age physiologically while some don’t. “Various parts of our body age at varying times, but on an average, our cells stop growing by the mid-twenties and the process of degeneration begins. The skin, brain and the lungs are the first to start this process, followed by the bones, heart and eyes in the 40s. The kidneys, prostate and the gut start ageing in your 50s and 60s,” says consultant physician Dr Sharat Kolke, who specializes in internal medicine and diabetes.
– Hiding your real age?
While chronological age is linked to one’s date of birth, the biological age is associated with one’s probability of survival, based on an assessment of certain biomarkers like blood pressure and arterial stiffness. “In young adults, both the ages are in sync, but as one grows older, differences may occur between the two. If you test youngsters who suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes for biomarkers of ageing, the findings show that their biological age is way beyond their chronological one,” says Dr Kolke.
– The genes you wear :
While the signs of ageing appear on the body, the process actually starts at the cellular level. The rate at which the cells age is governed by environmental factors like physical fitness, lifestyle, nutrition, gender (men age faster says some research) and a person’s genetic makeup.
“Ageing in humans happens due to senescence, a cellular level phenomenon. Each human cell has similar DNA, unique for an individual. Every time the old cells die and new ones are formed, the DNA that carries vital information for every activity of our body is exactly replicated in an almost error-free manner. However, each time a new cell is formed, the newer cells receive a shorter DNA bundle than the earlier one. This process is called telomere shortening and is known to be a major cause of ageing,” says Dr Amol Raut, CEO GeneSupport.
If left unchecked, early ageing can often progress into more serious conditions, such as dementia and depression, or even Alzheimer’s.
– Accelerating the fall :
Personal setbacks, professional or other unforeseen tragedies like the death of a spouse or child can make a person age faster. Environmental factors like long term exposure to sun reduces skin elasticity and makes one look older. “Of all the factors, sedentary lifestyle, sleep deprivation and bad eating habits contribute the most to rapid ageing,” says Dr Kolke.
“Sugar is a major killer. The glucose sugar binds to and inhibits DNA, proteins and lipids, expediting the ageing process. Preservatives and color in food too harm the body so it’s best to steer clear of these,” suggests nutritionist Dr Geeta Dharmatti.
– Turn the clock back :
You can’t stop ageing but the process can be retarded with lifestyle modification. Simple exercises like walking, jogging and eating healthy food can delay the ageing process.For the brain, Dr Kolke prescribes leisure activities such as reading, solving crosswords, puzzles, playing board games, playing musical instruments, dancing and other social activities.
These activities are associated with a reduced risk of developing forgetfulness and subsequent dementia. “The anti-ageing creams, lotions and potions are effective only superficially. Long term and permanent benefits can be only enjoyed through good nutrition,” says Dr Dharmatti.
– 6 steps to replenish that fountain of youth :
– Start introducing oregano, turmeric, cloves and cinnamon in your daily diet
– Have at least one serving of berries and green tea a day
– Try and eat fish twice a week
– A handful of nuts, 5-6 times a week
– Ditch processed foods, eat greens, yellows and orange. (Vitamin A rich papaya, carrot, etc.)
– Nutrients like Vitamin D3, Omega-3, and folic acid are a must
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