The human population ages and the popularity of certain types of foods and products to help reverse the ageing process has increased significantly in recent years. Is there any truth to this idea?
An example of an anti-ageing nutrient
For example, Vitamin C is thought to be a good "anti-ageing" substance because of its powerful anti-oxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances designed to mop up the free radicals in the body capable of damageing cells and DNA.
We need to bear in mind that no single food or drug on their own (or in combination) will ever reverse the ageing process in the true sense of the word. It is true some foods (and potentially a handful of drugs) can and do in fact improve our health, giving the impression that we are reversing the ageing process. And in some cases, some substances may actually lengthen our lifespan. However no product can actually reverse the ageing process. The overriding factor that ultimately determines physically how old we look and thus emotionally how well we feel is our DNA.
DNA and the environment
For example, experiments have shown that cells in a perfect environment can reproduce themselves again and again without signs of deterioration in the DNA, thereby making virtually perfect copies of itself.
But in the real world, and this is important for you to remember, we are subject to constant bombardment from various agents in the environment, all of which can potentially damage our cells and DNA over time. Take, for the instance, the free and natural radiation permeating the universe. This invisible force is penetrating our body every second. Some of the radiation may get absorbed by the atoms in our cells. Other radiation may get reflected from the cells. Yet there are other forms of radiation which will have the sufficient energy to knock out atoms making up our cells and DNA.
This, together with the viruses, the bacteria and the general physical interactions we undertake in our environment, all have the potential to create damage to our cells and DNA.
When cells are damaged, it is important for the body to recreate another cell based on the information contained in its DNA and the availability of component amino acids and other materials. In that way, the old damaged cell can be replaced with a new, fresh copy ready to face the world again.
However, once we damage sufficiently the DNA we carry in our cells, our only hope is for our bodies to stop growing, make do with the cells we have to achieve our goals in this universe, and find ways to perfectly protect what's left from further damage. Or else, we must reproduce with another human being to help rebuild DNA to its original and potentially a better form for the next generation.
Of course, stopping our body from growing is not possible in reality. We are continually growing all the time. Admittedly at different rates depending on the type of DNA information we hold in our cells (the information may vary sufficiently to change the type of proteins produced for protecting our body) and our age.
And we are still continuously subjected to damage from the environment, invisible or not as the silent vandalists of the human body.
In essence, you need to start young, protecting your DNA from the ravages of the environment through the right foods we should eat, the clothes we wear (e.g. skin tight metallic clothing) and potentially, with the help of medical science, some drugs if they are free of side-effects and don't create further risk of damage in another part of the body.
So what about drugs? Can drugs help us to feel younger and live longer?
In 2005, many middle-aged people are look into a class of drugs known as human growth hormones, or HGH.
What is HGH?
HGH are the master hormones for regulating our body functions and stimulating the growth of new cells. They come from the substance somatotropin formed in abundance within the pituitary gland of the brain during our youth and released into the blood stream. But as we age, our levels of HGH naturally goes down. Some experts claim the levels of HGH can drop by as much as 80 per cent when people reach 60 years of age compared to people aged 20 years.
A scientific study into the alleged benefits of HGH
The presence of HGH in the body is thought to give ageing people the restored youth characteristics of high strength vitality, tight skin, strong teeth, high libido and so on. For example, a study by Dr. Daniel Rudman and Dr. Ronald Klatz have found that 6 months of growth hormone injections can replenish HGH levels and give the feeling the clock has been turned back 10-20 years for his subjects of men over 60 years of age.
Among the improvements noted by the scientists include reduced anxiety, less body fat, increased muscle growth, improved brain activity, a sense of feeling good about oneself, and an improved social life (possibly due to increase sexual activity).
Such improvements are often seen by the patients as a kind of "age reversing" effect. This is especially true when HGH are combined with sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone.
Does HGH really work?
The study by Rudman and Klatz suggests it does work for older people. For younger people such as athletes, the results are mixed.
To complicate the matter, you may also need insulin and an LT-3 thyroid hormone such as Cytomel and possibly enhanced by other anticatabolic drugs such as the steroid Clenbuterol or an ephedrine-based supplement to get the maximum anabolic effect from growth hormones.
Should you take HGH?
In small doses over short periods of time, medical experts believe HGH can be beneficial especially for older people wanting an improvement in their quality of life, as well as children who have growth hormone deficiencies.
However prolonged HGH treatments or injections of high levels of HGH will not extend your lifespan. What determines your age is the quality of the cells and chemicals you produce and this is depended on your DNA.
You see, when you reach a certain age, DNA acquires a certain amount of natural mutations due to exposure to various things such as radiation. Unfortunately taking growth hormones will not repair the damage within DNA. HGH will do nothing more than tell the body to duplicate the DNA and the cell to produce a fresh copy. And on a temporary level it does seem to improve your body functions.
But forcing cells to reproduce can also increase the likelihood of DNA becoming more vulnerable to further mutations thereby accelerating the chances of developing cancerous cells.
This may explain why some studies have shown a reduction in HGH levels in people at risk for certain types of cancer have a 45 per cent lower risk of developing the disease with fewer cancer deaths.
Other common side effects of HGH include hypoglycemia (or low blood sugar level) and poor thyroid function. Less common are the increased risks in diabetes; heart enlargements and possible heart attacks in patients with congestive heart failure; high blood pressure; joint pain; muscle pain; enlargement of breasts, swelling of hands, feet or lower legs; and enlargement of the kidneys, to name a few.
There is still considerable debate within the medical community about whether the benefits of HGH outweigh the risks.
To determine whether you need to take HGH (inconjunction with other supplements or drugs for maximum effectiveness), it is highly recommended you consult your doctor for advice. This is particularly true for anyone with allergies, pregnancy, mothers breast-feeding babies, aged under 20 years, older adults, and those who take other forms of medication (e.g. corticosteroids).
A safer form of HGH
There is one other thing you may need to consider. Scientists have noticed when injecting artificial HGH is how it can disrupt the body's natural ability to produce HGH.
A safer alternative and one that promises greater hope is a class of supplements called HGH precursors or releasers. These are not hormones. Instead they work by providing the essential amino acids needed by the body to stimulate the production of natural HGH within the pituitary gland in our brain.
HGH precursors don't require injections, so they are painless; they cost a lot less than artificial HGH injections; and they utilise more natural substances to stimulate the pituitary glands.
An example of a HGH precursor available to consumers is the FDA-approved GenF20 priced at US$49.95 for 120 capsules.
But again we cannot stress enough the importance of consulting your doctor before taking any drug, natural or otherwise. Why? Because it is possible the symptoms you may experience as possibly due to the ageing process could in fact mask a much more serious problem. Always consult with your doctor first before accepting the advice of anyone.
NOTE: This information has been obtained from various reputable medical sources and is provided as a general information service. It should never be relied upon as the sole source of information for making important health decisions until you have discussed the issues with your doctor.