To what extent can humans stop aging?
What is aging
Why living things age is scientifically controversial. One possible explanation is that the organisms are optimized to reproduce maximally early and not to live as long as possible. It cannot be said at the moment whether it will ever be possible to stop aging and thus extend life expectancy. Nonetheless, intensive research is being carried out on possible active ingredients that are intended to slow down or even stop aging processes in the body.
Strictly speaking, the aging process begins with birth. From the age of 35, aging accelerates. What exactly happens during aging has not yet been scientifically clarified. It is now assumed that a combination of genetic influences, cell changes and environmental factors are responsible for aging.
From observations on animals it is known that even single gene changes (mutations) can be sufficient to significantly extend the life expectancy of roundworms or fruit flies, for example. Over 100 such genes are now known, some of which can double life expectancy. Most of these genes regulate growth, energy balance, nutrient uptake and reproduction.
To what extent this knowledge can be transferred to humans is still open. Since the human organism is much more complex than nematodes or fruit flies, the influence of genes on the aging process could also be different. Nor is it likely to be expected that individual mutations can double life expectancy in humans.
In general, however, the genes also seem to play a role in humans. So there are always families whose family members live extraordinarily long. Siblings of people over 100 often also get very old. It is also known that extremely long-lived people have certain variants of genes that control lipid metabolism and reduce the effects of insulin.
In the course of life, the likelihood of cell and genetic changes increases. Over time, more and more of this damage accumulates and presumably worsens the functionality of the cells. Most of this damage is so far unknown, but it is known that so-called free radicals and reducing sugar molecules damage the genetic material DNA and other cell molecules.
The cells themselves are also subject to an aging process. In old age, more and more body cells lose the ability to grow and multiply. In this way, the body may protect itself from uncontrolled cell growth and the development of tumors. So this natural cell aging is possibly the price that the body can pay for preventing cancer.
Environmental conditions also play an important role in the aging process. Harmful influences such as toxins, radiation but also the stress, diet and physical activity put on influence the aging process. Studies on animals have shown that life expectancy increases when food intake is restricted. As the findings from the genetic studies suggest (see above), a low metabolism generally seems to have a life-prolonging effect. However, it is still open whether this also applies to humans and whether fasting, for example, can stop aging.
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