The life span of every species is naturally determinate, but may have very wide margins. Individual maximum life span is also genetically determinate.
By personal options such as food, fitness, healthy environment, stress-less life style etc. we could reach this maximum, but not to pass over.
To pass our genetically determinate life span we need help of artefissial medical and biotechnological interventions.
Antioxidant-Oxidant Equilibrium and Aging
Living organisms are routinely and physiologically producing various oxidants during normal metabolism.
Oxidants (also known as free radicals, ROS – reactive oxygen species, both endogenous and exogenous) are damaging structures in cells and tissues, igniting a cascade of failures (reversible and repairable or irreversible) in different functions of organisms and continuously with acceleration.
Antioxidants are different biochemical substances, capable of neutralizing oxidants and preventing damages, otherwise would be caused by oxidants.
Living organisms are routinely producing antioxidants and consuming them with food.
Ideally, the antioxidants should neutralize the entire spectrum of oxidants, before they create irreversible damages, keeping the antioxidant-oxidant interaction balanced.
Imbalance between antioxidants and oxidants in an organism is caused when the amount of oxidants are exceeding the amount and/or capability of antioxidants to neutralize them, which results in oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress leads to the many different pathologies and dysfunctions on all levels of an organism.
Oxidative stress appears in two circumstances:
a) Insufficiency (quantity or quality or both) in the antioxidant level, caused by any factor such as aging, malnutrition, pathologies, infections, etc.
b) Excessive production of oxidants in organisms as a result of aging, infections and diseases, and aggressive environmental factors, e.g., UV rays.
Usually, in antioxidant-oxidant imbalance, both aspects are present.
In the case of overproduction or high input of antioxidants, they could be used by organisms as compensatory mechanisms in the event of increasing level of oxidants during diseases or any environmental damages, e.g., UV rays or other ionizing radiation. Same antioxidants, such as, for example, carotenoids, may be stored in organisms for a short period of time.
Illustration of antioxidant-oxidant equilibrium during aging:
This illustration shows physiological changes in balance between endogenous antioxidants and oxidants.
Additionally, when physiological increase of endogenous oxidants occurs during aging, more oxidants are produced during different diseases, especially chronic diseases and pathologies. External negative factors such as UV rays, pollutants, toxins, etc., provoke additional production of oxidants and increased input of environmental oxidants with food, water and air.
On the other hand, physiological production of endogenous antioxidants by organisms fades with age. For example, synthesis of glutathione, a strong antioxidant produced by cells, significantly decreases with aging.
“The free-radical theory of aging” linked the aging process to the accumulation of damages (oxidative stress) generated by free-radicals and explains it by increasing oxidants and reduction in the production of antioxidants. “The free-radical theory of aging” was developed into the more specific “mitochondrial free radical theory of aging,” focusing on mitochondrial damages and their role in antioxidant-oxidant imbalance. Despite oxidative stress as a consequence of antioxidant-oxidant imbalance, which is certainly involved in the aging process, both theories explain “how” it is working, but not “why” it is happening. Contrary, the “Gap” theory of aging explains that antioxidant-oxidant imbalance is a result of the aging process, but not the reason for aging.
There are two basic conceptions about how to avoid oxidative stress and the accumulation of damages:
a) Decline level of oxidants.
b) Increase level of antioxidants.
Review both variants:
a) The total level of oxidants is the sum of endogenous and exogenous oxidants:
a1. Decreasing production of endogenous physiological oxidants is very limited.
a2. Declining input of exogenous oxidants and improving environmental conditions to avoid producing additional oxidants in organisms is always desired.
b) The total level of available antioxidants is the sum of endogenous and exogenous antioxidants:
b1. Restoring fading within the aging synthesis of endogenous antioxidants.
b2. Increasing supplement (“antioxidant therapy”) of exogenous antioxidants to restore necessity for balance level of antioxidants. Antioxidant therapy prevents and declines widening within aging by constantly increasing levels of oxidants and constantly
decreasing levels of antioxidants.
The option to restore synthesis of endogenous antioxidants is very limited according to today’s level of medicine and biotechnology.
There are few available routes to increase the supplement of exogenous antioxidants:
– By injection
– By enhanced diet with natural food antioxidants
– By antioxidant food supplements
– By topical antioxidant supplementation (skin and oral cavity)
Because of very complicated mechanisms of antioxidant activities, supplementation of antioxidants has partial success in restoring necessary levels of antioxidants for holding balanced antioxidant-oxidant equilibrium.