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Human life has built-in limits; here are possible reasons why we can’t live forever. But, as knowledge of the ageing process advances, scientists are working on ways to hold back the years.


As we grow older, we experience an increasing number of major life changes, including career transitions and retirement, children leaving home, the loss of loved ones, physical and health challenges—and even a loss of independence. How we handle and grow from these changes is often the key to healthy aging.

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What causes the body to age? Do cells deteriorate from simple wear and tear? Or are they programmed to die off at a certain time? There are two major theories about what happens to us on the cellular level.


A little effort goes a long way

You don’t have to become a health fanatic or undergo a major overhaul of your lifestyle to live longer and stay healthier. By gradually making some easy changes, such as those suggested below, you’ll be on your way to better health in no time. The secret is to keep on with them, and not drift back into old ways.

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Free radicals at work

The theory on the effects of free radicals in the body, proposed by US researcher Dr. Denham Harman, has been called ‘the biggest discovery since germs’. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that have only one electron instead of the usual pair, so they try to latch onto other molecules. As they do this, they damage proteins, lipids and DNA in the body’s cells in a process known as oxidation. Think of an apple that’s been cut open and left on a plate for a while. It oxidises and turns brown. That’s what’s happening inside your body. Although free radicals are caused by all sorts of pollutants such as traffic fumes and tobacco smoke and even by fried foods, they are also a by-product of natural metabolic processes in the body. That’s the paradox of oxygen: it gives us life and energy, but it also produces free radicals that repeatedly attack our cells. In time, our damaged cells lose their ability to withstand infection and disease, and eventually they die. Fortunately, antioxidants – vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other compounds – may help to neutralize free radicals. As free radical damage seems to increase with age, we should eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.








Active components with its properties: Aloe vera contains 75 potentially active constituents: vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids.

  1. Vitamins: It contains vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, which are antioxidants. It also contains vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline. Antioxidant neutralizes free radicals.
  2. Enzymes: It contains 8 enzymes: aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase, and peroxidase. Bradykinase helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin topically, while others help in the breakdown of sugars and fats.
  3. Minerals: It provides calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. They are essential for the proper functioning of various enzyme systems in different metabolic pathways and few are antioxidants.
  4. Sugars: It provides monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) and polysaccharides: (glucomannans/polymannose). These are derived from the mucilage layer of the plant and are known as mucopolysaccharides. The most prominent monosaccharide is mannose-6-phosphate, and the most common polysaccharides are called glucomannans [beta-(1,4)-acetylated mannan]. Acemannan, a prominent glucomannan has also been found. Recently, a glycoprotein with antiallergic properties, called alprogen and novel anti-inflammatory compound, C-glucosyl chromone, has been isolated from Aloe vera gel.
  5. Anthraquinones: It provides 12 anthraquinones, which are phenolic compounds traditionally known as laxatives. Aloin and emodin act as analgesics, antibacterials and antivirals.
  6. Fatty acids: It provides 4 plant steroids; cholesterol, campesterol, β-sisosterol and lupeol. All these have anti-inflammatory action and lupeol also possesses antiseptic and analgesic properties.
  7. Hormones: Auxins and gibberellins that help in wound healing and have anti-inflammatory action.
  8. Others: It provides 20 of the 22 human required amino acids and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids. It also contains salicylic acid that possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Lignin, an inert substance, when included in topical preparations, enhances penetrative effect of the other ingredients into the skin. Saponins that are the soapy substances form about 3% of the gel and have cleansing and antiseptic properties.

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Can you live longer by eating less? Cut down the calories if you want to help to fight free radical damage and slow cell division. That’s the conclusion drawn from studies of a group of Okinawans. Okinawa is a chain of islands stretching from Japan to Taiwan, and it has four times as many centenarians as Western Europe. It is assumed that the low calorific content of the Okinawans’ natural diet accounts for their long-life expectancy; their blood shows remarkably low levels of free radicals – compelling evidence that by eating less they suffer less free-radical-induced damage.

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