Also spelled as ageing, this is generally the process of becoming old. Aging is, in a way, the opposite of immortality. It may occur to single cells in an organism, also called cellular senescence. In addition, it may occur to the population of a species (aka population ageing). In humans, it signifies the accumulation of various changes which occur over time. The changes may be physical, social, and/or psychological.
Causes of aging are currently very uncertain. Besides, there are several factors which predispose an individual to premature aging. Current theories suggest that this process occurs to due to cellular damage, such as DNA oxidation by free radicals, causing biological systems to fail. Internal processes, such as DNA methylation, may also result in aging. Predisposing factors such as space escapades, the use of chemically intoxicated substances with a damaging ability to the skin, and compounds with a high content of free radicals also stimulate the aging process.
With this said, what are the effects of aging? Can scientists make anti-aging drugs for humans on Mars?
Effects of Aging
Aging affects various systems in the body. Besides the development of gray hair and wrinkles, some of the affected body systems include:
The cardiovascular system
As aging progresses, the heart rate becomes significantly slower. The heart can increase in size. This is due to the increased stiffness of the blood vessels (mainly the arteries). Therefore, the heart works harder to pump or force blood through them. Hypertension and various cardiovascular complications may occur.
Bones, joints, and muscles
With advancing age, the size and density of bones reduce. This weakens them and causes them to be susceptible to fracture. Changes in height may also occur. Strength and flexibility of muscles decrease, therefore resulting in trouble balancing and impaired coordination.
The digestive system
Adults with advanced age frequently complain of constipation. Various factors contribute to constipation. Low fiber diet, lack of enough fluids in diet, lack of exercise, and medications, including diuretics and iron supplements, are just but a few of those factors. Old persons are also predisposed to various medical conditions, including diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome, that may increase the chances of constipation.
The genitourinary system
Issues with the bladder and urinary tract depict the epitome of conditions associated with old age. Urinary incontinence, otherwise known as loss of bladder control, is a common problem associated with aging. Diabetes, menopause for women, enlarged prostate for men, and other conditions also contribute to incontinence.
Advancing age is commonly associated with memory loss. The inability to maintain both short term and long term memory is serious. Learning new things, or remembering familiar words and names, can be quite daunting.
Eyes and Ears
Advancing age is a common hindrance to the proper functioning of the body senses. The eyes will have difficulty focusing on near and distant objects. Adapting to different levels of light is another common problem. Cataracts, also called clouding of vision, is another common condition that results from changes in the lens of the eyes. Hearing abilities also diminish. You may have difficulties following a conversation or hearing high frequencies.
Receding of the gums is a notable condition in this bracket. Old age is associated with various medical conditions and medications may be needed. The medications that are used to treat these conditions, which include allergies, asthma, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure, may cause negative side effects such as dry mouth. In addition, the teeth and gums are predisposed to infection and decay!
Loss of subcutaneous fats results in a thin and less elastic skin. The skin also becomes more fragile and bruised easily. Signs of advanced aging including wrinkles, age spots, and fine lines. Dark spots are also imminent. Dry skin is also caused by a significant decrease in the production of natural oils in the skin.
As one gets old, maintaining a healthy weight becomes more daunting. This is because as one gets old, muscle mass in the body is replaced by body fats.
Sexual needs and performance are affected significantly. To begin, illness and concurrent medication use may interfere with the ability to enjoy sex. Impotence becomes a major concern in men, while vaginal dryness occurs in females. Delayed erections and premature ejaculations are also bound to occur.
With the adverse effects mentioned above, nobody would like to age. As there are certain predisposing factors to this process, avoiding the factors are the key to prolonging your aging process. There are also other ways to promote the health of various systems, so as to survive and ultimately delay the normal or premature aging process.
Some of the measures are below:
Eating a healthy diet
A healthy diet is the mainstay treatment option for various healthy lifestyles. Vegetables, fruits, high-fiber foods, lean sources of proteins, and whole grains are just but a few healthy foods to mention. Eating these kinds of foods has beneficial effects on all of the affected body systems. Prioritize this type of diet to keep your heart and arteries healthy and relieve constipation that may be associated with aging.
Exercises and physical activity
Exercising well is of great importance when it comes to improving your overall health. Walking, swimming, and other physically stimulating activities are essential. Regular exercises will help prevent muscle loss. Kegel exercises tighten the pelvic muscles, promoting the bladder and urinary tract health.
Smoking and Alcohol Use
Smoking, including tobacco use and alcohol, have disastrous effects on the body systems. Severely affected systems will include the heart, memory, bladder and urinary tract.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are of immense importance for the development of strong bones, muscle enhancement, and strong joints. Increasing dietary sources of calcium, such as dairy products, broccoli, and kale, is prudent. Taking supplemental vitamin D is also good for you.
Anti-Aging Drugs For Humans On Mars: Possible?
As mentioned, aging is a normal body advancing process. Preventing this process may seem like a fairy tale. However, recent studies by researchers and science experts made a breakthrough on a drug that could antagonize aging. This will be of immense benefit to astronauts who suffer premature aging processes after making a trip to the Mars. Other humans who need to maintain their youthful looks and resilience will also benefit.
The breakthrough came after combined studies by Harvard Medical School, and University of South Wales science experts made the discovery. Scientists discovered a critical step that will allow the body cells to repair their damaged DNA. In the aging process, the cellular DNA causes all these changes. The possibility of repairing the damaged DNA, therefore, implies that aging will not occur.
Anti-Aging, NASA, and Humans On Mars: The Case Study
Researchers did the study using the cells of a mouse. They treated a young and old mouse with the specimen, called a Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN). This compound has the ability to repair the damaged DNA from radiation exposure and old age. After setting out the mice for quite some time, they did a cellular analysis. To their surprise, cells of the old mice were outstandingly indistinguishable from those of a young mouse.
NASA showed interest, as astronauts deal with enormous amounts of radiation in their space trips. This could be a beneficial breakthrough to reduce the reported 5% cellular death following a space trip.
Inventions and scientific innovations knock on our doors nearly every dawn. Whereas some are beneficial, others could be disastrous. The recent breakthrough could be of unimaginable benefit. Despite the concern that human cells may not react similarly to cells of a mouse, there are still high hopes this can work out. Human trials will begin after 6 months. If positive results are achieved, anti-aging pills and therapies will be available. Besides astronauts, cancer patients suffering from the destructive side effects of chemotherapy will also benefit.