The fountain of youth - such metaphorical piece of myth that alludes to immortality has been used over and over again on different forms of literature both in the past and in the present. Oftentimes, the fountain of youth's classification as myth is challenged from time to time with some expeditions or travels that claim to have finally found the fountain's location. Nonetheless, this recurring symbol of eternal youth in most forms of literature and art, verifies man's innate affinity with immortality.
In our contemporary setting, this longing for immortality is almost within mankind's grasp with the promise of better technologies and sciences in the near future. However, to completely grasp and understand the means of acquiring eternal life or a very long life span in the very least, one must first see the process behind human aging. This question kept many brilliant scientists hell-bent on searching for clues and theories that may answer such relentless query.
Through the course of these scientific explorations on the realm of human aging, scientists were able to come up with a term that refers to the human aging process - senescence. This term refers to a degeneration implication that manifests itself as people get old. Senescence is believed to be the result of a biochemical deregulation that is a natural component of life.
However, the effects of senescence vary among different species. Take for example a bat and a rodent, both of them are classified as mammals and both are of the same size, but a bat generally lives longer than a rodent for the former can live up to 30 years while the latter usually have a life span of only two to three years. However, some animal species such as rockfish, turtles, and lobsters display a certain trait known as the negligible senescence. This trait enables these specific animal species to live through a longer period of time compared to other species. Some of these species can even live for an unbelievable span of 200 years.
Findings through extensive studies that were carried out by various scientists imply that this peculiar trait is a result of evolutionary and genetic factors that rule over these animals' life longevity. However, scientists still find it hard to assimilate this kind of trait to humans and the reason behind it is fairly simple: we humans live under a completely different environment compared to those animals that possess the negligible senescence trait.
Causes of Human Aging
The best that we humans can do for now is to first determine the various factors that fuel the human aging and to address these factors accordingly. One of the most obvious reasons or factors behind human aging is stress. In a nutshell, the dynamics of stress simply say that constant beatings and punishments that our bodies take from everyday tasks lead to hormone disturbance which can ultimately lead to cell damage.
Furthermore, the degeneration of the hypothalamus, a gland that resides in your head, is also one of the determining factors of human aging. The hypothalamus is solely responsible for setting the "traffic" of various hormones to other glands. Through the course of time, the hypothalamus becomes weary and tends to be inaccurate in releasing proper amounts of hormone to other glands in the human body. This leads to imbalanced hormone levels which cause damage to tissues.
External factors brought about by the environment are also some of the very viable reasons behind the human aging. Environmental harms such as pollution, radiation, contaminants coupled with self induced stress, and poor nutrition inflict damage on human cells. Significant damage is instantly inflicted upon these cells once they are exposed to such harmful external factors. Cells play a very substantial role on the process of human aging because they contain valuable information for the human body's development. Whenever a cell reproduces or divides itself, it makes sure that the new cell is of the same level with the previous cell that it originated from. If that previous cell received any slightest form of damaged from the previously mentioned factors, it will then spawn new cells that possess slightly deformed information sets. This will then start a trend of degenerated cells which leads to what is commonly known as the human aging.
Among these scientific theories that deal with the process of human aging the Free Radical Theory tends to be the most popular among contemporary health buffs. This theory suggests that extremely reactive chemicals, which the term free radicals refer to, are responsible for inflicting damage to the human body's tissues. In general, however, these free radicals are not completely bad for the human body for they also serve numerous purposes for the body's development. But what is damaging to the human body, especially to the tissues, is the free radicals' ability to reproduce itself in excessive amounts. Free radicals are endowed with an extra electron which makes them more capable of stealing electrons from other molecules which they tend to do frequently. This act subsequently leads to a very dangerous cycle that can burnout the cells from constantly repairing damaged molecules.
Prevent Human Aging
With these various theories that try to decipher the process of human aging, certain medical solutions are also devised to combat the inevitable aging ritual. The most common among these medical solutions are taking vitamin C and vitamin E to combat stress and to balance out the damage induced by free radicals in the body. Another effective method is to lessen your average intake of junk foods and substituting it with healthier food choices such as fruits and vegetables.
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