Aging is an inevitable fact of life, but does it have to be? Many industries sell products that are meant to make us look and feel younger: plastic surgery, botox, skin creams and even health products are all chasing after the dream of making us look and feel young again. These solutions make many promises, but they avoid addressing one stark reality of your body: You started dying at age 25.
Specifically, your cells no longer operate the way they once did. From birth, the cells in your body continue to multiply which is what enables your body to grow and develop. Scientists have discovered that human cells only multiply 40 - 60 times in a lab, before the cells “stall” and stop dividing. It is believed that at around age 25, the number of cells which stall and stop dividing begin outnumbering the number of cells that are continuously dividing.
Why the Focus on Cells?
Cell division is crucial to life. Without cell division your body would not heal, your immune system would not function and many other normal bodily functions would simply stop. Ensuring your body continuously produces all cells is ultimately in your best interests, but there are many factors which may cause your cells to stop dividing and stall.
One such factor is telomeres, which are DNA found in each and every one of your cells, that gets smaller every time your cells divide. Eventually, this telomere DNA in your cells becomes too short and signals the rest of your body that it can no longer divide.
Ok, But Do I Really Need to Know All This Science?
No, because this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aging. NAD+, stem cells and cellular senescence are all being investigated, in addition to telomeres, as reasons why we age. These factors are most likely not even all of the reasons we age. They could simply be the results of the aging process and we may not have even discovered other processes which cause these factors to happen in the first place!
The point of this brief science lesson is to show how complex your body is, and how important your cells are to ensure your body functions properly.
Many Types of Cells Need Many Types of Nutrients
We all know that eating good, healthy food enables your body to work properly. So, if it really is that easy, why don’t we all blend up kale smoothies everyday and eat liquified vegetables for every meal?
Because your cells are complex and each process in your body requires a different “fuel,” aka nutrient, to operate properly. Vegetarians and vegans often do not get enough vitamin B12. Paleo dieters often require more calcium and vitamin D. In fact, drinking alcohol regularly for as little as two weeks decreases vitamin B12 absorption in your body and will result in a deficiency. These deficiencies ensure that your cells do not operate properly and your overall body will suffer because of it.
It’s crazy that these types of nutritional deficiencies continuously reappear. It is not like we have not known about how nutritional deficiencies resulting from extreme dieting can result in premature death. In the 18th century, more than 2 million sailors who did not have access to fresh fruits on ships died because of scurvy. These sailors would sail for months at sea and live off of simple diets of goat meat, hardtack, milk (from aforementioned goats), coffee, grog and whatever they could catch at sea. One could say that these sailors were the original Paleo dieters, as these diets were simple and the men were strong enough to work hard on deck, capture whales or even fend off the occasional pirate. In fact, Scurvy was discovered in 1808 but it continues to plague us today, with widespread instances of cases continuing to occur as recently as 2015, apparently because we keep forgetting the importance of micronutrients.
Of course, one could argue that we are not forgetting about the importance of nutrition, but we simply eat what’s convenient or tasty because it’s easy.