We age, like it or not. I’m in a social group curious about aging. Members share advice, laugh, compare, and commiserate. Many embrace getting chronologically older, but none wish to speed the physical aging process, or know what to expect from it.
Bio-gerontologists study aging professionally, finding techniques to influence aging. They integrate fields like biology, math, and genetics1 to develop longevity hacks. Science shows that the number of years you have been here are just one factor of your true age. Biological age is unique from chronological age.
Physical versus chronological age
“Biological Age” is a manifestation of aging physically displayed by the body, not by birthday candles. But what IS aging? Physiologically, it is a measure of impaired function and loss of integrity3. Biological age is mostly a result of interactions between environmental elements and time, with factors like oxidative stress playing a role.
“The only reason we age is our repair
systems become complacent”
David Sinclair, Harvard professor and leading
researcher in the field of biological aging
The puzzle is to understand these processes. We know toxicant exposure is one environmental input that causes cell damage or accelerated senescence2, A.K.A. cellular aging. To a lesser extent, genetics matter, the expression of which is affected by environmental factors. Impaired antioxidant pathway activity3 can also contribute to rapid aging.
What does it mean to age?
Degeneration is attributed to immune aging, inflammation, and senescence4. Senescence occurs when there is a nonideal amount of stress or damage inside or outside the cell. This halts the cycle of cell turnover and regeneration.
Damage theories of aging
Environmental assaults cause damage to living organisms. Mutations can occur if DNA cannot repair. Telomere dysfunction5 can result from unfolding chromosome structures or shortening of protective end caps. Luckily, some damage, like oxidative damage, can be repaired or even removed3.
Environmental inputs, like toxins, can make us look older than peers of similar age and genetics. You can see this when comparing side by side photos of identical twins–one of whom smokes. The free radical theory of aging suggests that free radicals progressively damage molecules like cell proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids.
“There may well be multiple factors that contribute to the accumulation
of senescent cells, including ... environmental stressors she is exposed to.”
The Scientist March 2020
Cell damage from environmental factors
According to the U.S. Library of Medicine’s Environmental Health and Toxicology site6, a cell damaged by biochemical toxicity may completely repair and normalize, repair with less function, develop neoplasm or cancer, or die. In three out of four outcomes, toxicity drives aging-related cellular processes and senescence.
What impacts cell outcomes?
What determines whether cells damaged by toxicity will completely recover or die? Can we influence this? To some extent, yes. We can support our body’s ability to detoxify (US/CA) and to neutralize free radicals. We can support the process of bio-transformation (A.K.A. detoxification) and get optimal amounts of antioxidants to help the body to weather environmental stressors.
How this looks in real life
About 96% of a normal dose of acetaminophen is bio-transformed to non-toxic metabolites by a normal liver process called conjugation. About 4% of the acetaminophen oxidizes to a toxic metabolite, but the body can use antioxidants to excreteit. Poor conjugation, a lack of antioxidants or sluggish elimination are problematic. They can result in cells being damaged or killed by toxic metabolites that remain in the body.
The importance of antioxidant polyphenols
Eating well may help us avoid the negative scenario above. The Institute for Functional Medicine asserts that polyphenols (like those in Flor-Essence7US/CA) rev up conjugation. Known as CYP450 metabolism to practitioners, this is what bio-transforms toxins in the liver. They say “consuming more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients
Toxicity adds up
Medicines are only one stressor that can create free radicals. Our toxicity quotient includes the cumulative and combined effects of toxicants in our homes, air, soil, water, food, and toiletries that can break down molecules and damage DNA.
We can lower our toxicity quotient if we choose clean personal care (CA) and cleaning products and eat organic foodand avoid plastic, PCBs,and glyphosate. We can reduce the oxidative damage to our cells by choosing oils made with health in mind (US/CA), eliminating damaged oils and high-heat frying.
Physiological aging at the cellular level can vary greatly between people of the same chronological age. Aging is not always constant or linear. Stress from oxidation and environmental toxins can accelerate the process. At times we have the physical resources to be resilient and repair damage, and sometimes not.
By choosing clean personal care products and carefully made oils, living “clean”can help keep our toxicity quotient down. We can support our body’s ability to cleanse and process the remaining toxins with reduced damage with good nutrition and phytonutrients.
Flor-Essence is an 8-herb cleanse for the whole body, and a source of antioxidants and polyphenols to support the health of your cells.
Dana Green Remedios, RHN, RNCP, NNCP, is a Vancouver-based educator and coach. She is a regular contributor to the FloraHealthy blog and can answer your questions in English, French, and Spanish as a Product Information Specialist at Flora.