The Many Ages of You

Cell turnover means that much of your body is younger than you think. Use this science to promote healthy aging.

All arrows point to the gradual mutation of your DNA, which degrades the quality of your structure-providing collagen and paves the way for signs of aging. Daily use of sunscreen can help reverse some of this damage.Your Heart It has long been suspected that cardiac cells do not renew themselves. That may be why heart attacks cause permanent damage and you lose cardiac function as you age. In his latest research, however, Frisen says he has detected new-cell growth in the heart, which may lead to new ways to restore function after a heart attack.Your Muscle, Gut, Liver, and BonesYour Rib Muscle Cells here are about 15.1 years old. Your Gut Much like the skin, the lining of your stomach and intestines endures a lot of wear and tear, lasting but five days. Frisen found that cells in the body of the bowel, below the surface, are about 15.9 years old.Your Liver The cells in this filtering organ turn over every 300 to 500 days. Even so, to keep yours in peak form, avoid taking unnecessary medications, limit alcohol intake, and minimize deep-fried and fatty foods, which may contribute to the risk of gallbladder disorders, such as gallstones. Also use insecticides, spray paints, even aerosol cleaners sparingly since they are absorbed directly into the skin and lungs, taxing the liver and, in some cases, killing off cells.Your Skeleton Each year about 10 percent of your bone tissue is actually replaced, meaning your entire skeleton turns over every 10 years. Once you reach peak density, in your 30s, you begin to lose more bone than you build. The rate of bone loss increases after menopause. Weightbearing exercise (hiking, walking, running), strength training, and taking in plenty of calcium and vitamin D may stave off some loss.Originally published in MORE magazine, May 2007.

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