One day you're young and carefree, you take your youthful skin for granted, you laugh without abandon, and the next you're on the wrong side of thirty, forty, fifty and examining your fine lines with a magnifying mirror! Twenty-something you didn't even know crow's feet were a thing or "elevens" or mouth frowns or nasolabial folds (smile lines) or even jowls – and now these ideas fly around your head like the plot of a bad horror film. Of course, we're being extreme but ageing is a complex biological process influenced by multiple factors. And whilst a complete reversal of the ageing process is not possible, there are several root causes and hallmarks of ageing that have now been identified by scientists to understand and mitigate their effects. So, before you head to the salon for botox, fillers, or a facelift, let's explore the eight root causes of ageing and some strategies being explored to address them.
#1 Cellular damage (genomic instability)
Problem: DNA damage and mutations accumulate over time, leading to cellular dysfunction.
Simple terms: Cells accumulate damage as we age. Think age spots.
Solution: Eat healthier, choose an antioxidant-rich diet, avoid smoking and excess sun exposure (DNA damaging UV radiation), and take antioxidants.
#2 Shorter telomeres (telomere shortening)
Problem: Telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, naturally shorten with each cell division, leading to cellular ageing, which has been known to affect health and lifespan.
Simple terms: The protective caps on our DNA strands (telomeres) get shorter with age, causing ageing at a cellular level.
Solution: Managing stress, regular exercise, and potentially emerging telomere-targeted therapies are areas of ongoing research.
#3 Gene changes (epigenetic alterations)
Problem: Changes in gene expression patterns as a result of epigenetic modifications can contribute to ageing-related diseases.
Simple terms: Changes in how genes work over time can lead to age-related diseases.
Solution: Healthy diets and exercise may promote better gene function as well as epigenetic therapies.
#4 Protein buildup (loss of proteostasis)
Problem: Accumulation of misfolded or damaged proteins can disrupt cellular function.
Simple terms: Damaged proteins can build up in cells and harm their function.
Solution: Promoting cell recycling (autophagy via fasting), enhancing protein quality control mechanisms, and potential drugs that target specific protein aggregates may help.
#5 Nutrient sensing issues (deregulated nutrient sensing)
Problem: Dysregulation in nutrient-sensing pathways like mTOR and insulin signalling can contribute to ageing and age-related diseases.
Simple terms: Problems in how our bodies sense nutrients can contribute to ageing.
Solution: Caloric restriction, intermittent fasting, and drugs that modulate these pathways are being explored to promote healthy nutrient sensing.
#6 Energy factory issues (mitochondrial dysfunction)
Problem: Accumulation of mitochondrial damage and dysfunction leads to reduced energy production and increased oxidative stress.
Simple terms: Damage to our cell's energy factories (mitochondria) can cause problems.
Solution: Lifestyle interventions, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and antioxidants, can help support mitochondrial health.
#7 Senescent cells (cellular senescence)
Problem: Accumulation of senescent cells, which are no longer capable of dividing, can lead to inflammation and tissue dysfunction.
Simple terms: Accumulation of cells that can't divide leads to inflammation and tissue problems.
Solution: Senolytic therapies aim to selectively remove senescent cells, while lifestyle factors like regular exercise may delay their accumulation.
#8 Tired stem cells (stem cell exhaustion)
Problem: A reduced regenerative capacity of stem cells contributes to tissue ageing and dysfunction.
Simple terms: The diminished rebuilding/recovering abilities of stem cells – which are special (undifferentiated) cells in the body that can turn into different cells where needed – can contribute to ageing. These cells can repair and replace lost cells, but eventually, the body stops being able to replace lost cells.
Solution: Stem cell-based therapies and strategies to enhance endogenous stem cell function are areas of research, but this is still in the experimental stage.
Besides future treatments, the common ground is that lifestyle choices impact ageing, so the best way to reduce signs of ageing is to eat a balanced diet, stay physically active, manage stress, avoid tobacco, and limit alcohol consumption. Ongoing research in the field of anti-ageing and regenerative medicine may yield more effective interventions in the future.
Whilst we cannot help you age more slowly on a cellular level within all of your body systems, Tria's age-defying laser (ADL), reduces visible signs of ageing on the face by improving the tone, texture, and pigmentation of the skin; reducing acne; fading sun spots and scars; promoting collagen; ridding the skin of spider veins and broken capillaries; exfoliating the skin at the microscopic level; brightening the skin; smoothing out the skin's texture; and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Read all about the benefits here.