Science & medicine have increased the capacity for the human being, to live a longer life. However, a Google search of the key term “anti ageing” (although vague), elicits: 6,980,000 ‘hits’. That is a plethora of information to sift through; while bearing in mind: human beings have an inherit negativity bias; meaning: we search for information that reinforces a perceived belief. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors required a negativity bias to make metacognitive decisions; in order to survive long enough to pass on one’s genes. Marketing can exploit your negativity bias, to make you vulnerable in the decisions you make!
Lets narrow down the google search (metaphorically) down to the molecular level. Where you have more than likely heard of the term ‘oxidative stress’, and how oxidative stress may be accelerating your ageing.
Oxidative stress for all the nerds out there: is a free radical, a molecule that is missing an electron (1). For everyone else who likes the facts in black & white: think of a free radical like a missing sock. When you wear odd socks, it doesn’t look right! Just as a sock should become a plural; a free radical is going about trying to steal an electron from a healthy molecule (or, another pair of socks) because the the free radical is unstable and incomplete, just like your barefoot! Now, having one sock missing isn’t going to cause to much oxidative stress right? However, when the organism goes out of homeostasis into allostatic loading, due to environmental stressors: poor sleep hygiene, poor nutritional intake, lack of exercise, increase basal cortisol et cetera; free radicals can go ballistic!
Free radicals are associated with ageing and onset of many comorbidities from: cardiovascular disease, arthritis and neurodegenerative disorders to name a few (1).
So how do I get my sock back, or electron for the nerds?
Antioxidants, is a word that you all would have heard of; but, perhaps used in jargon? Antioxidants are molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical but still remain stable. This is important: because when an antioxidant gives an electron to a free radical, the chain reaction ends (1). More so you find your missing sock!
Targeting specific behaviours, such as exercise, especially aerobic (that will be discussed in part 2) will improve the health and function of your molecules! Exercise improves the sensitivity of the hormone insulin, which is important for managing blood glucose levels; along with releasing less cortisol via the zona fasciculata (adrenal cortex) for all the nerds.
Identify a behaviour that you are looking to change. Using exercise for example: have a look at the recommended guidelines for physical activity in the link provided… and see if you need to safely increase your physical activity (even better under the guidance of a exercise physiologist/scientist)
Physical activity will be one incredibly helpful way to decrease the ageing process!
Let’s all move more; and keep are socks (molecules) in order!
- BLACKBURN, E. H. AND EPEL, E.
The telomere effect
In-text: (Blackburn and Epel, n.d.)