The aging process is a real head-scratcher for scientists. Healthy humans are capable of healing their injuries, recovering from illnesses, and replicating their cells again and again. Why can’t this process continue forever? Old age and death are hardly helpful to our species’ survival, after all. Scientists have studied nearly every type of animal – from short-lived fruit flies to age-defying flatworms – to unravel this mystery.

According to one theory, our life span is programmed into our DNA, which jump-starts the aging process once we’re beyond our reproductive years. (Scientists tinkering with the age-related genes in some worms have been able to dramatically increase their life spans.) Another theory holds that your cells have a sort of expiration date and can only reproduce so many times. Some scientists believe that the longer you live, the more damage your body racks up. Eventually, the ‘’human machine’’ becomes so bogged down with glitches that it can no longer repair itself properly. Likely, a combination of these theories can explain the aging process. Our life span is also affected by many factors outside our bodies. How we eat, where we live – even whether we marry – can influence our body’s expiration date.


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