Aging is a complex topic that many people have tried to and continue to try to solve. Various researchers the world over keep plucking at the very essence of what makes us human to tease out where things go “wrong”. Some of them even try unproven techniques in the hopes that it will somehow improve their lifespan. They put their bodies on the line to prove a science that they believe in. Each of these researchers follows a different model for aging typically. The sheer complexity likely means that no one treatment or model will suffice to encompass all facets of aging. People keep speculating on different models though. You may remember that we recently covered the free radical aging theory. This theory has gone through multiple refinements, but one of them is the concept of oxidative stress causing aging.
What’s Oxidative Stress?
Under the free radical aging theory, free radicals moving throughout the body cause minute damage throughout the body. This damage compounds over time and causes various defects that lead to aging and age-related illnesses. It has a simple, intuitive ease to it once the basics of the theory are clear. One proposed change to the model is one wherein it is a specific area of damage that causes aging over time. Specifically, the idea of oxidative stress focuses on free radical damage to the mitochondria in your cells. Damage to their DNA ostensibly causes “stress” that shifts the functions of the mitochondria. Build-up over time leads to malfunctions and mutations in the cell that eventually cause aging. The oxidative part refers to one of the potentially common reactions free radicals have in the body.
A Debatable Proposition
The catch is that this is actually one of the less favored models of the free radical aging theory. It has been challenged time and again under the idea that it makes assumptions about blank areas in knowledge. The biggest area this is focused on is actually the primary mechanism things supposedly happen by: free radicals even being able to cause changes in the mitochondrial DNA. Understandably, this makes the idea seem far more like an intellectual exercise than an actual addition to a theory. Furthermore, scientists have done their best to test the oxidative stress addition to the model and seem to have generated evidence that it is definitively wrong. Naturally, it requires more replication to be sure, but it doesn’t seem like oxidative stress is likely to become a viable alternative form of the free radical aging theory. This doesn’t mean that you should skip on antioxidant-rich food though.
What To Do With Oxidative Stress?
Every problem in science has proposed solutions to it. The goal is to work towards the clearest and best answer over time. There are always stumbling blocks along the way as people propose ideas for testing. Oxidative stress seemed like a likely model at the time it was proposed and helped to fill in a lack of knowledge at the time. However, the continual build towards better knowledge in science is gradually relegating oxidative stress as the mechanic of aging to the pile of failed ideas. Using antioxidant products and eating antioxidant-rich food is still part of keeping yourself looking more youthful, but it isn’t the solution to aging as some people would like to think.
People are never going to stop seeking the exact hows and whys of aging. If we could unlock them, then people could be as timeless as Cleopatra’s reputation. We want to not only go on, but to know that we will go on as our best selves. One day people may be able to unlock the full secrets of aging and find the solutions needed to prevent age from touching us. Unfortunately, oxidative stress does not appear to be part of those secrets for the time being.