Understand Aging: what is aging and why do we age

Well, like it or not, we age. Many things have been tried to delay the aging process. To successfully do that, we first need to understand what is aging and why do we age.

The first sign of the aging often shows up on our skin – oh, don’t we hate that! Skin is the body’s largest organ.  It consists of three layers: the outer layer (epidermis), the middle layer (dermis), and the inner layer (the subcutaneous).  When skin ages, change happens at all three layers and wrinkles result from fundamental changes that occur beneath the aging skin surface.  Human skin changes throughout the course of life due to both physiological and external reasons.  In general, skin goes through two types of aging processes, chronological aging and photo aging.

Chronological aging is a natural process of life.  Let’s face it—we get older each day. Free radicals are formed by many of the body’s normal chemical processes.  These particles damage cell membranes and interact with genetic material, contributing to development of aging symptoms such as wrinkles and cancer.  As a result of natural aging process, our skin cells divide more slowly—for example, skin cell turnover rate drops by about 50% between 30 and 70, the inner skin starts to thin, and fat cells beneath the dermis begin to atrophy.  The underlying network of elastin and collagen fibers that provides scaffolding for the surface layer, loosens and unravels.  Skin loses its elasticity–when pressed, it no longer springs back its initial position but instead sags and forms furrows.

The chronological aging process is the cause of only a few primary wrinkles in the face, such as those around the corners of the eyes and between the nose and upper lip.  Photo aging caused by the sun is the most important cause of aging skin and wrinkles.

Photo aging is triggered by exposure to UV radiation in sunrays.  It is believed that exposure to UV radiation accounts for about 90% of the symptoms of premature aging, and it is estimated that 80% of UV-promoted aging occurs in the first 20 years of life.  Research suggests that, when even small amounts of UV radiation bombard the inner layers of the skin, it triggers a process that stimulates the production of large amounts of enzymes called metalloproteinase. The normal function of the enzymes is to repair injured tissues, but in large amounts, they break down elastin and collagen.

As a result of the aging process, the skin performs its principal functions, such as protection, excretion, secretion, thermoregulation, and sensory perception, less efficiently.  The sweat- and oil-secreting glands atrophy, depriving the skin of their protective water-lipid emulsions.  As a consequence, the skin becomes dry and scaly.  In addition, the ability of the skin to repair itself diminished with age, so wounds heal more slowly.

To summarize, there are two factors contributing to the aging process: natural aging process and external factors. To delay natural aging process, eat right, drink plenty of water, exercise and supplement wisely. To prevent premature skin aging caused by external factors such as sun exposure —stay out of the sun and always use plenty of sunscreen.

Thanks for reading.

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