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What Causes Ageing (Internal and external factors)

The fountain of youth – where is it and how do we get some. Aging doesn’t discriminate, it’s a reality we all face at some point in our lives. The very nature of life on our organic planet means age is inevitable, whether we like it or not. Years and years of living and aging afford us so many memories and experiences. BUT (and here’s the catch) the way you live affects the way you age.

The rate at which we age truly does depend on our lifestyle, diet and how well we take care of our bodies. It’s a lucky combination of genetic and non-genetic factors.

Genetics plays a big part in our aging experience. But throw in a little excessive lifestyle and emotional impacts and your experience becomes fewer milestones and more sharp and steady decline. Everyone ages differently and understanding different factors that impact your body and why makes for a good place to start. It is easier to think of these factors as internal (biological/genetics) and external (lifestyle).

Internal Factors

These are usually referred to as biological causes of ageing. The ones none of us can escape and should be the type of aging we learn to embrace. Some of these factors include:

Genetics:

Family history is both friend and foe, especially when it comes to our health. One glance at your family tree can give you a good indication of risks (very important) and paint a possibility of what you might expect from your aging experience (spider veins, thanks Mum). The rate your skin wrinkles, skin texture and level of the condition. This might be influenced by your genetics but how you live will make it significantly better (or worse).

Cellular Aging and Telomere Shortening:

Telomeres are little caps that protect our DNA. DNA is the genetic coding that makes up who we are. Telomeres form a layer over the DNA that makes up each of your cells, that grow your hair, pump your heart and rejuvenate the skin that covers your entire body. Cells restore and replace by copying themselves, keeping us (and our skin) supple. But each time cells are copied the telomeres get shorter. This happens thousands of times over our lifetime and eventually, the telomeres get too short to protect as well as they once did. Meaning we age. While this process happens gradually and naturally for most of us, premature telomere shortening can happen with excess stress, poor diet and a generally unhealthy lifestyle.

Hormonal Changes:

There are a lot of theories surrounding hormones and their effect on aging but what we do know for sure is that hormonal changes are an important part of aging. We’ve all been through puberty, let’s not pretend that was a walk in the park. For anyone with flashbacks of uncontrollable pimples and awkward bodily growth, hormonal changes can cause havoc on our bodies and emotions – and it’s normal! For women, this comes with stage two and three with pregnancy and menopause. We can thank our endocrine system for this. This is the control centre that releases hormones in line with regulating metabolism, putting nutrients to use plus a tonne of other important tasks. As we age, these systems become less effective and as with cellular aging, it’s impacted and aggravated by the ways we live our lives. What’s important is that hormonal changes may cause havoc – but it should also balance back out again. If not, you may have an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

External Factors

Remember when we said aging doesn’t discriminate? If you do the crime, you are going to do the time (and by 'the time' we mean look old real quick). External factors are lifestyle activities that can accelerate ageing process and the area where you have full control. There are only so many treatments that can help you if your lifestyle is full of excessive exposure. Some of the big external factors are:

Sunrays and Climate Contribution:

The world is changing, and we are not immune to it. Ozone layer depletion means increasing exposure to the sun. It’s warm and full of vitamin D but without our ozone layer’s protective shields, we are also exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Make no mistake, skin cancer, eye damage and premature aging risks are real. This is not new news, yet research continues to report UV exposure seems to be responsible for 80% of visible facial ageing signs (let’s not get into the sun cancer stats). There are two major types of UV ― Ultraviolet A (UVA) and is associated with skin aging and Ultraviolet B (UVB) is associated with skin burning. UVA and UVB rays affect us differently but both do harm. UVB rays are responsible for producing sunburn which in turn makes it the greater cause of skin cancers. UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the skin and play a greater role in premature skin aging changes including wrinkle formation (photoaging). There are approximately 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays. Excessive exposure to UV can damage the DNA in skin cells, produce genetic defects and cause everything from wrinkled skin to skin cancer to eyelid cancer.

How to protect yourself:

  • Invest in a good quality broad-spectrum sunscreen and wear it every day
  • Consider your outdoor activities and love yourself enough to cover-up
  • Don’t skimp on the sunnies – get some UV protective sunglasses

Lifestyle:

Fact: smokers are more prone to developing wrinkles earlier than non-smokers of the same age and complexion. Air pollutants can also accelerate the ageing process, contribute to age-related diseases. Finally, the saying ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ is putting you into an early grave, stressed and with a skin condition. This means where we live and how we live are all factors that contribute to early aging.

What to do about it?

Health and aging are intrinsically linked.

    • More fruits, vegetables, fibre and lean proteins
    • Exercise and do it for your mental health. Our bodies hold emotions and when left unchecked, we end up chronically stressed and more likely to make decisions not great for our health. Unwind, release and do it in any way that makes you feel happy.
    • Chose good products for your skin. Invest in products that feed your skin, limit your chemical intake and support the internal factors of aging while reducing the external factors.