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Memory problems? Feeling more tired than usual? Wrinkles on your face? No, you don't have a rare disease, you are just getting old. Would you like to know why? Get to know some of the ideas that scientists have come up with to explain the aging process.

Aging: Happens to everyone

Mark Twain said that wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. Unfortunately, as some people would think, they don’t. Wrinkles, as well as detriment in vision, memory and in physical strength, among other abilities, are some of the changes that we notice as we grow old.

Aging is a natural process that occurs not only in humans, but also in other vertebrates, in plants and in worms.

A similar aging process has even been described in bacteria. So, don’t feel bad about getting old and keep on reading to find out why and how we age.

What science says about us getting old

The process of aging has become one of the main focuses for researchers nowadays, basically because aging has been identified as a risk factor for the development of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

But why do we age? When do we start aging? Why do our cells wear out? Well, even scientists are still trying to figure this out. Currently, there are two main theories that try to explain how aging is regulated in the human being.

We age because our genes say so

The first theory claims that our genes regulate the aging process. The switching on and off of genes controls our growth and development. This gene-controlled system allows our cells to turn into specialized brain cells, liver cells and skin cells, for example, at a certain embryonic stage. Later in life, it also stops growth by suppressing bone and muscle cells at a specific age and allows other types of cells, such as blood cells, to keep on replicating for as long as we live.

Just like our development is controlled, the “programmed theories”, as they are known, say that our faith is basically written in our genes, since they have the information that determines how long we are going to live.

These theories support the idea of programmed changes that favor aging, including hormonal changes and a decline in the effectiveness of our immune system.

This lost of effectiveness makes us more vulnerable in every sense, to biological and environmental hazards, like infectious diseases and all kinds of stress.

Do you remember that when you were a child you could go out in the rain with nothing else than a light sweater and not get sick? Well, it is proven that after puberty, our defense mechanisms start to decline in their response, which is the reason why if you go out and dance in the rain as an adult, the least you could expect is waking up the next day with a soared throat and a headache.

Because of this, as we grow old, the risk of developing certain diseases such as chronic neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, for instance, might increase.

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