Effect: Memory Loss
Maybe you've been dealt a bad hand of genetics, but that doesn't mean you can't exchange a few cards, or at least change how you play them! When it comes to your body and longevity, here's what we know: It's less about what genes you have and more about how you express them. Genes work by manufacturing proteins, but whether or not a specific gene is turned on or off is largely under your control. For example, exercise isn't good for you just because it helps burn fat, but it can also alter the expression of your genetic codes to decrease your risk of getting cancer. So how else do you change the function of your genes? One way is through the rebuilding of the tips of your chromosomes, called telomeres. Think of them as being like those little plastic tips of shoelaces—once these protective coverings are gone, your DNA begins to fray, which can contribute to age-related conditions like memory loss. One way to avoid losing your telomeres? Learn to manage stress—telomeres of people who feel more stressed are almost 50 percent shorter than people who say they're less stressed.
Major Ager 2: Oxidation and Inefficient Mitochondria
Effect: Rusting Arteries
Mitochondria are the fundamental drivers of metabolism, converting the food you eat into energy. The problem is, as they produce energy they also produce oxygen free radicals—molecules that cause dangerous inflammation in the cell when they spill over. Think of them as the power plants of our bodily city. Just like an old factory, aging mitochondria spill more industrial waste into the environment. The damage this inflammation causes to your cells and to the mitochondria within your cells is responsible for many aging-related problems. This oxidation, for example, is what causes a "rusting" of your arteries, which is partly responsible for the aging of your cardiovascular system.