It cannot be denied that genes play a role in our longevity and how we progress through the aging process. Yet lifestyle may have a much greater impact on how and when we age.
Genes in the body control much of the regeneration our cells and tissues undergo. The gene FoxM1B, for example, has been isolated by researchers for its tremendous ability to promote cell regeneration, leading to the healing of tissues, skin cells, and hair in older mice. This gene can reverse the effects of aging and is present in the human body.
Yet genes are not the only tool we have to prevent premature aging or reverse the deterioration the body undergoes over time. Though the process of aging is not completely understood, we do know that the following three factors play a role: 1)Oxygen consumption, 2) Stem cell quantity and 3) Anti-inflammatory response. All three of these factors generally decrease significantly as we age.
Stem Cell Quantity
Stem cells are basically the blank slate of cells; they can become any cell in the body. This makes rejuvenation of muscles, tissues and bones possible. At Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, the number of stem cells present in rats were testes before and after a period of exercise. All of the rats that exercised, both young and old, experienced an increase in stem cell quantity. In the older rats, however, the increase was more significant; they had 33-47% more stem cells after a period of exercise.
The body performs a sort of trick called “damage and repair.” The immune system responds to a site of injury by sending a rush of inflammatory fluids and white blood cells to protect it and facilitate healing. A while after this, the body sends an anti-inflammatory response to the site to undo its inflammatory doings.
While older people experience more inflammation in general than younger people, they lack the same amount of anti-inflammatory responses. The process of damage and repair is important because new cells and tissues are created out of every repair process, and each new cell or tissue is stronger than the last.
The more fit you are, the better your body can heal. The better it heals, the more able you are to maintain fitness. This pleasant cycle is experienced by those who don’t let age keep them from activity.