Time and tide wait for none! Well, a key ‘side effect’ of passing time is that we grow older and older. Science has advanced tremendously in the last decade or so, but it has not advanced to the level of stopping the aging process. It will occur naturally in the physical and biological aspects of your body and portray these changes on the surface in the form of signs of aging such as wrinkles, sagging skin, and grey hair.
Well, for scientists to devise a plan of action that will work against aging, if not to stop it completely, but to at least slow it down and help us overcome it to a certain extent; it is important to identify the factors that cause it. These factors can be at the genetic level (changes in the DNA) or the influence of exposure to external catalysts that speed up the natural aging process.
Let us understand the causes of aging through this article.
What Is The Biological Cause Of Human Aging?
1. Chronic Inflammation – When the body is under attack or under stress, it triggers the inflammatory cascade, which is a natural response to fight and counter these. With age, increased levels of inflammatory chemicals can start attacking and damaging the body’s healthy cells. A surge in these is also seen with increased fat content in the body, especially when this fat is present in the abdomen area.
This type of damage when present for longer periods of time (chronic inflammation) can cause aging. Increased oxidative stress, mitochondrial damage, reduced immune function, hormonal imbalance, and genetic changes are seen. These can result in tissue damage leads to skin aging and age-related diseases. Anti-inflammatory compounds such as turmeric and dark chocolate, along with moderate exercise can help keep the levels of these chemicals under control.
2. Glycation Theory Of Aging – The presence of both natural and artificial sugar in food can form advanced glycation end products. These compounds make your body cells stick together and can impair their healthy functionality. A simple example would be how they can thicken the blood and restrict the delivery of nutrients to various organs of the body. They also cause the formation of free radicals and inflammatory products that augment the aging process. Hence, ‘sugar’ works an aging facilitator. Caramelized onions, blackened chicken, and added sugar in food are common examples of items that contain glycation products, and are best avoided.
3. Stress – Being under stress makes the body to produce the hormone cortisol to control the effects of stress such as high blood pressure. However, this increased cortisol can have an undesired effect on the aging process if its levels remain high for a longer period of time. It can cause belly fat to accumulate more than before and cause the release of inflammatory cytokines. Thus, prolonged stress can result in skin aging, especially on your face. Relaxing the mind and body with yoga and meditation will help to keep the stress-related cortisol levels under control.
4. Free Radical Theory Of Aging – Free radicals (or reactive oxygen species) are essentially chemically unstable compounds that wreak havoc in the body and on the skin’s surface. They accumulate in the body with age and cause damage to the different cells producing the signs of aging prematurely. They also increase the risk of cancer. Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants naturally will eliminate these free radicals from the body.
5. Oxidation – As we grow old, the body begins to ‘rust’ or oxidize as part of the natural aging process. This oxidization affects the DNA to such a level that it makes the body more vulnerable to free radical damage. This damage leads to the skin losing it suppleness and aging signs developing on the skin.
6. Less Methylation – Methylation is a chemical process carried out by the body on our DNA to protect it from damage and to prevent cancerous genes from being triggered. Lesser amount of methylation implies an accelerated aging process as the DNA can be easily damaged by the free radicals.
7. Excess Of Unfriendly Flora – Presence of detrimental microorganisms such as candida and nanobacteria in the colon can cause increased calcium phosphate levels in the body. This can cause joint pain and intensify other aging-related symptoms.
8. Lowered Immune System Function – This can happen due to an infection, presence of free radicals, stress, and many other factors. A combined action of all these can cause aging and wrinkles to appear before time.
Also Read: Causes Of Saggy Skin & Treatments
Does Your Diet Accelerate Aging?
Many people have thankfully realized that diet can influence the health of the body and the skin. Consultation with a certified dietitian will help you understand the role of diet better. He/she will also be able to provide with a list of anti-aging foods that you can include in your diet.
Here is brief overview of how your diet can cause aging –
1. Diet – An unhealthy diet can affect various processes of the body, one of them being the aging process. High amounts of carbohydrates and low amounts of proteins in the diet can lead to collagen breakdown and increased levels of inflammatory compounds. These can easily lead to premature aging. Crash diets and yo-yo diets have similar effects.
2. Low BMI – Body Mass Index (BMI) levels indicate the fat levels in the body and should be within a healthy range for your body’s height. A high BMI increases the chance of developing weight-related diseases, but a low BMI is also not healthy. Decreased levels of energy and anemia are common with a low BMI. The collagen production by the skin also tends to slow down, and transepidermal water loss increases causing wrinkles and sagging skin.
3. Overeating – Eating more than the required amount of food impacts digestive health and leads to accumulation of unhealthy compounds in the body. These, in turn, produce free radicals and inflammatory compounds that cause premature aging.
4. Stimulants – External stimulants such as caffeine from coffee and tea can increase the acid levels in the body and make it susceptible to attack from external damaging factors like oxidizing agents. These increase the oxidative stress on the skin and lead to tissue and collagen damage, thus causing premature aging.
5. Decrease In Enzymes Levels – Both internal and external reasons can lead to the lowered production of enzymes in the body. Lesser amounts of enzymes imply reduced absorption of key nutrients from the diet leading to their respective deficiencies. Deficiencies in key nutrients can speed up aging.
6. Dehydration – Our body is 60% water, and these important molecules help to maintain the structure of the skin by keeping it supple and hydrated. If enough water is not consumed in the day, it can lead to dehydration of the skin cells. This dehydration can lead to developing signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and skin dullness.
7. Smoking & Alcohol Abuse – Smoking can thin out the skin, inhibit collagen production, and restrict the delivery of nutrients to the skin. All of these can cause fine lines and wrinkles to become more prominent. Alcohol, when consumed in excess amounts, causes dehydration and accumulation of toxins in the body. The liver needs to go into an overdrive mode to remove these impurities. Dehydrated skin will definitely start showing aging signs.
Also Read: Super Foods For Anti Aging
Other Causes Of Aging Skin
1. Lack Of Sleep – Getting enough amount of sleep is essential to keep the skin in a healthy state. When you sleep, your body renews and repairs cells not just inside the body but also those present in the skin. Due to lack of sleep or poor sleep patterns, this process is disrupted and cortisol levels increase in the body during such a situation. Both of these lead to accelerated skin aging with signs such as dark circles, dullness, and wrinkles appearing.
2. Depression – Feeling down for a few days is a lot different from experiencing depression. In such a state, the body cells age faster due to increased inflammation and other depression associated side effects in the body.
3. Sun Exposure – You might fancy sunbathing, but trust us that it can do a lot of harm than you’d expect. The UV rays from the sun damage the skin’s collagen and lead to sagging skin and wrinkles. They also cause the production of free radicals, which if not countered, can keep causing prolonged damage to the skin cells.
4. Not Exercising – Exercising moderately and regularly keeps your DNA structure intact and increases circulation. Enhanced circulation means better delivery of nutrients to the skin. When you have a sedentary lifestyle, you not only risk becoming overweight and acquiring related diseases, but also increase the chances of aging as lack of physical activity can cause premature death of cells.
Treatment Options To Delay Aging & Look Younger
Can we stop the aging process with treatments? As of now, there are no such treatments available. However, delaying aging by overcoming its signs has become an almost effortless task these days because of the advancements in the field of cosmetic dermatology. While there are surgical treatments available, there are many non-invasive processes available in aging treatments as well. They can help in making the skin firm, removing fine lines, saving your neck from sagging skin, improving skin tone, reducing wrinkles, etc.
Many treatment options are available for you to benefit from. Here are the popular anti-aging treatments in brief for you
1. RF For Aging Skin – Radiofrequency microneedling helps to improve collagen production and tissue remodelling processes with the help of the heat energy generated when the radiofrequency waves come in contact with the skin. Fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and pigmentation seen with aging can be treated in just a few sessions. This is non-invasive skin tightening treatment.
Read More: Radiofrequency Microneedling
2. Chemical Peels For Aging Skin – These contain facial acids that are safe for use on the skin. They exfoliate the top, damaged skin layers and reveal the fresh skin present under it. Dullness and dry patches will be diminished, and an overall improvement in the skin’s texture and tone can be seen. Fine lines will also fade away making the skin appear tauter. Frequently used chemical peels for anti-aging are TCA peel, lactic acid peel, and salicylic acid peel.
Read More: Chemical Peels
3. Fillers For Aging Skin – To restore the lost volume of the facial features that occurs with progressing age, dermal fillers can be injected into the skin. They can also be used to fill in fine lines and wrinkles. They are usually composed of hyaluronic acid, and their effect can last up to two years.
Read More: Filler Treatment
4. Laser Toning For Aging Skin – This treatment is primarily used to lighten the skin tone, and when it comes to applying it for overcoming aging, it can help fade away age spots and other pigmentation that are associated with aging skin. Q-switched Nd:YAG laser is used to break down the melanin pigment in the skin and cause effective lightening in the treated area. The heat generated by the laser in the skin’s layers also stimulates collagen and elastin production. This eventually exerts a tightening effect on the skin.
5. Laser Resurfacing For Aging Skin – Also known as laser peel, laser skin resurfacing removes the damaged layers of the skin using light energy from a laser beam. Facial wrinkles, fine lines, and photodamage can be treated using this technology. Usually, a fractionated CO2 or an Erbium laser is used to perform the treatment. The concerning setback with laser skin resurfacing is only that the recovery period can be up to two weeks post every session.
Read More: Laser Skin Resurfacing
How To Prevent Aging Skin?
When it comes to preventing aging, you can follow certain natural tips and tricks to delay the aging process. Keep reading to know more about them –
- Drink Lots Of Water – Hydration through water intake is absolutely essential to maintain the health and look of your skin. Drink eight to 12 glasses of water every single day to keep your skin looking plump and wrinkle-free.
- Protect Your Skin From The Sun Every Day – Applying a sunscreen with a SPF 30 (minimum) can protect your skin from photodamage in India. Smear some onto your skin 20 minutes before you step out into the sun and do not forget re-apply every three hours.
- Use Self-Tanner – While many people these days prefer to sport a tanned skin, achieving it through self-tanning lotions is a much healthier option than sunbathing or using tanning beds. The rays from the sun damage your skin and accelerate aging, and you do not want that to happen.
- Stop Smoking – Not just to delay aging, smoking is best avoided to keep many respiratory diseases and cancer at bay.
- Drink Less Alcohol – Know when to draw a line on your levels of alcohol consumption as excess of it is definitely not going to help overcome anything. If possible, switch to red wine that contains resveratrol, which is an excellent anti-aging ingredient.
- Avoid Repetitive Facial Expressions – You know exactly the faces you make when reacting to different situations. If you feel you are repeating a facial expression more often than required, try to consciously keep this under control. Repetitive expressions can deepen fine lines and make them progress to wrinkles.
- Eat A Healthy, Well-Balanced Diet – The importance of a healthy diet cannot be stressed upon enough. Maintain a balance between the acidic and alkaline foods you consume as a supple diet helps to delay aging. Additionally, make sure to eat plenty of colored fruits and vegetables as these excellent sources of antioxidants. What you eat really matters!
- Exercise Most Days Of The Week – An active body translates to an active metabolism and blood circulation. And, these can make an impact on slowing down the aging process and preventing premature aging. For four to five days of the week, involve yourself in moderate physical activity for 30-40 minutes.
- Cleanse Your Skin Gently – Aggressively rubbing or scrubbing your skin while cleansing it will only damage the epidermis and cause fine lines to become prominent. Also, use mild cleansers that do not sap away the natural oils from your skin completely.
- Apply Facial Moisturizer – While the water intake will help your skin remain hydrated from the inside, topical moisturization is also necessary. Choose a moisturizer meant for your skin type so that it provides the required amount of moisturization externally. Use upward circular motions to apply the facial moisturizer.
- Make Calcium A Part Of Your Life – Studies have demonstrated the role calcium plays in regulating the cellular turnover of the skin. Lower calcium levels slow down the turnover rate and expedite the aging process. Include calcium in your diet via food items such as milk and eggs. You can also invest in skin care products that contain calcium to keep your skin youthful and plump.
- Drink Green Tea – Green tea is a powerhouse of antioxidants that can help fight the free radicals damaging your organs, including the skin. Drinking two to three cups in a day will keep your skin healthy and glowing.
- Meditate – It is important to relieve the stress and anxiety that various factors in our life bring upon our body. Meditation can help you to calm down and this will help bring the cortisol levels under control.
- Exfoliate Your Skin – Along with cleansing and moisturizing on a daily basis, add exfoliation to your skin care routine. Simple scrubs made at home or chemical peels administered by certified dermatologists will help remove the dead and dull skin, bringing forth the fresh, young skin cells present below it.
The natural process of aging can be sped up due to many other causal factors. It does not have to seem like impending doom. There are various tactics that you can use to prevent aging signs from popping up before time, and to maintain the youthfulness of your beautiful skin longer.