The Price of Ageing And What An Individual Can Do About It

Health is wealth

Health is wealth. This is a popular saying that urges people to take good care of their health. This also reminds them about the importance of health and that this is something that any material wealth could not buy. As people grow old, it is also a known fact that health may deteriorate because of a lot of factors, so definitely, everyone must be on the lookout to stay fit and healthy as they age.

Study on the health of people as they age

There are a lot of studies available about the health of those people are not getting any younger. One of these is the study on oxidative stress, iron and antioxidant status in elderly men, which may be unfamiliar to many. These are unfamiliar terms that will be given light. It is important for people, especially those who are getting old, to be well-aware of the factors that may positively and negatively affect their health.

Oxidative stress, iron status, and antioxidant status

There are correlations among oxidative stress, iron status and antioxidant status in terms of the health of elderly men. In the study, the men of Crete, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean and the largest and most populous place of the Greek Island, and the men of Zutphen, a historic city in the center-eastern part of the Netherlands in Northern Europe, are compared. It has been found that elderly men from Zutphen had consistently higher levels of indicators of oxidative stress and iron status and the lower concentration of major antioxidants than the elderly men of Crete. This result of the study suggests that the lower levels of indicators of oxidative stress and iron status and the higher concentration of major antioxidants has contributed to the lowering of coronary heart disease and other illnesses among Cretan elderly men.

Defining oxidative stress

The study has found that oxidative stress may speed up aging and increase the risk of chronic diseases. Oxidative stress happens if there is an imbalance in the production of free radicals and the antioxidant system. Free radicals can increase the risk of diseases and speed up aging because these are unstable atoms that can damage cells. Antioxidant enzymes, on the other hand, are the ones that can control these harmful free radicals as they can stabilize and deactivate them before they attack and damage the cellular components which may cause diseases and illnesses.

The body can generally maintain a balance between free radicals and antioxidants, but it is the oxidative stress that causes the imbalance. Free radicals are normally produced by the body that can fight diseases and infections when they function properly, but if oxidative stress takes place, these may cause harm to the body. There are risk factors that can contribute to oxidative stress which include diet, lifestyle, certain conditions and environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, ozone, certain pesticides and cleaners, and cigarette smoke. An uncontrolled oxidative stress can accelerate the aging process and may contribute to the development of a number of harmful conditions, and this is why it is important to be proactive in preventing oxidative stress which may be done by maintaining a healthy lifestyle such as the regular intake of fruits and vegetables and dietary antioxidant sources like fish and nuts, vitamin E, vitamin C, turmeric, green tea, melatonin, onion, and garlic.

Antioxidants and its role in the health and well-being of humans

Antioxidants truly play a significant role in the health of men as it has always been linked to different health conditions which include the aging process, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis. As antioxidants reduce the exposure to free radicals of the body, these help men reduce the risk of free radical related health problems. If the antioxidant status of men is generally good, it can contribute to the positive maintenance of cellular and systemic health and well-being.

The consequences of deficiency and overload of iron

Aside from oxidative stress and antioxidant status, one factor that could affect the health and well-being of an aging man is iron, a mineral that is responsible for the production of energy as it carries oxygen in the hemoglobin of red blood cells throughout the body. Oxygen is needed by every organ and tissue for these to work, and a person may feel tired, weak, and short of breath if there is not enough oxygen in the blood. Furthermore, when there is a fewer amount of iron in the body, a condition called iron deficiency anemia happens which may result in fatigue, weakness, and difficulty maintaining body temperature, pale skin, and fingernails, dizziness and headache. This condition may happen to individuals if they do not consume enough food that has iron, however, it must also be noted that the amount of consumption depends on age and gender.

Other causes of iron deficiency anemia include the inability of the body to absorb iron which is brought by conditions such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease that makes it difficult for the intestines to absorb iron. The small intestine is the one that absorbs iron from the foods that people eat. Another cause of iron deficiency is blood loss which can happen to women with heavy periods and individuals with injuries. Pregnant women may also suffer a deficiency, especially if they do not consume enough iron from supplements and diet as they nourish their growing babies.

Problems in the body may not only occur when it absorbs a fewer amount of iron, as it can also be harmful to the body if it is absorbed in high amounts because iron can be toxic, which is the reason why the digestive tract tightly controls the absorption of this essential yet potentially harmful mineral. Iron overload, which is the gradual build-up of too much iron in the body, is caused when there is a failure of the regulatory system of the body to maintain the iron level within a healthy limit. One known iron overload disorder is hemochromatosis, a condition in which an individual absorbs too much iron from the food and drink they consume. This condition may lead to serious diseases such as liver disease, heart problems, and diabetes since the excess iron goes to the organs, particularly to the liver, heart, and pancreas.

The effect of oxidative stress, and the lack of iron and antioxidant in the body

Oxidative stress and the lack of iron and antioxidant in the body paves the way for chronic diseases to infest our bodies. The US National Center for Health Statistics has defined chronic disease as a disease that persists for a long time that may last up to 3 months or more. Generally, the major contributors to leading chronic diseases are lifestyle and health-damaging behaviors such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and poor eating habits. These diseases are usually not prevented by vaccines and cured by medication.

The common chronic diseases that tend to manifest in older people are arthritis, cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke, cancer such as breast and colon cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and seizures, obesity, and oral health problems. Arthritis is the condition in which the joints of an individual start swelling causing joint pains and stiffness, and this is worsened by aging. Cancer, on the other hand, is the abnormal growth of cells and it has more than 100 types such as breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma. In the US, it is the second most common cause of death, and this is why there are actions to reduce the widespread presence of the behavioral and environmental factors that increase cancer risk.

Epilepsy is a chronic disease that affects millions of people. Epilepsy, a central nervous system disorder that causes abnormal brain activity, is the cause of seizures or the condition in which an individual manifests unusual behavior, sensations, sometimes loss of awareness or consciousness, a staring spell, uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs and psychic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or deja vu. Doctors classify seizures as either focal seizure, a result of abnormal activity in just one area of the brain, or generalized seizure which involves all areas of the brain. Epilepsy can develop in any person, regardless of gender, race, ethnic background and age.

Obesity, complex chronic disease which is linked to an excessive amount of body fat, is a problem that may increase the risk of individuals of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. Aside from oxidative stress, obesity happens to people because of genetic, behavioral, metabolic and hormonal influences on body weight and when they take in more calories than they burn in daily activities and exercise. Lifestyle choices such as unhealthy diet, drinking high-calorie beverages such as soft drinks, and inactivity contribute to the risk of obesity. Quality of life may also be affected by obesity since obese people may not be able to do the things they love doing such as being involved in enjoyable events and discrimination may also be encountered so there is a tendency that they may avoid public places.

Iron reduction and its benefits

The iron reduction has been proven to have different health benefits, especially among people who have suffered from iron overload. One way of reducing iron in the body is the process called iron chelation which is the removal of excess iron from the body. Furthermore, iron reduction has been found to decrease the risk of cancer in patients with peripheral arterial disease. Peripheral artery disease, a common circulatory problem, happens when the extremities of the body, usually the legs, do not receive enough blood flow that could match the demand that it should meet.

Peripheral artery disease is often caused when fatty deposits build up on the artery walls and reduce blood flow, which is also known as atherosclerosis. The disease can affect the arteries throughout the body that supply blood to the limbs. Other less common causes are blood vessel inflammation, injury to the limbs, unusual anatomy of the ligaments or muscles, and radiation exposure. Furthermore, there are more factors that can increase the risk of developing this disease which include smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, increasing age, especially after reaching 50 years of age, a family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke and high levels of homocysteine, a protein component that helps build and maintain tissue.

When iron is controlled, it may also prevent the occurrence of preventing myocardial infarction and stroke. Myocardial infarction, commonly called a heart attack, is the irreversible death of heart muscle. When a portion of the heart is deprived of oxygen because one of the four arteries or branches is blocked, a condition called cardiac ischemia happens, which may lead to the death of the heart tissue when this condition lasts too long. A person suffering from myocardial infarction or heart attack may experience shortness of breath, dizziness, faintness, nausea and the extreme pain that can be likened to a giant fist enclosing and squeezing the heart.

Iron reduction through phlebotomy

Iron in the body can be reduced through a process called phlebotomy in which a needle is used to take blood from a vein, usually in arms, which may also be used to treat some blood disorders through removing extra red blood cells from the blood. The procedure is also called blood draw or venipuncture which is an important process for diagnosing a lot of medical conditions and diseases. One kind of phlebotomy is called therapeutic phlebotomy which removes unusually shaped red blood cells or extra iron in the blood to treat people with conditions such as hemochromatosis, polycythemia vera, porphyria cutanea tarda, sickle cell disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. People who will undergo the procedure should expect blood tests and should know that the process usually takes just a few minutes, depends on how much blood is needed.

A study has shown that iron depletion by phlebotomy affects metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health conditions that include too much fat around the waist, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. This group of health problems increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. An unhealthy lifestyle including consuming too many calories and being inactive are usually the cause of the metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, an unhealthy lifestyle can also cause insulin resistance in which the body would not be able to respond normally to the insulin that may lead to increased blood sugar and eventually lead to diabetes.

The reduction of iron in the body can also contribute to the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. It is most likely that iron reduction stabilizes or improves liver histology and decreases the speed of the disease progression. Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes damage and inflammation of the liver which may heavily affect its functions. Chronic hepatitis C, a lifelong illness, spreads when blood from a person with the hepatitis C virus enters the body of an individual who is not infected.

What a person can do to have a decreased iron store and decreased oxidative stress

Regular blood donation can decrease iron in the body and decrease oxidative stress. Blood donation is a voluntary procedure done to help people who need blood transfusion. Every year, millions of people, including those who have been involved in accidents and those who have diseases that require blood components, need blood transfusions. Individuals, especially those who are aging, who want to show kindness to others and save themselves from oxidative stress and iron overload can resort to blood donation for them and for others to prolong and improve their quality of life.