Starting at middle age, operations of the human body begin to be more vulnerable to daily wear and tear; there is a general decline in physical, and possibly mental, functioning. During the latter half of life, an individual is more prone to having problems with the various functions of the body and to develop any number of chronic or fatal diseases. The cardiovascular, digestive, excretory, nervous, reproductive and urinary systems are particularly affected. Health and lifestyle factors together with the genetic makeup of the individual, determines the response to these changes.
Age Related Changes In Human Body
Body functions that are most often affected by age include:-
- Hearing. It declines especially in relation to the highest pitched tones
- Fat. The total body fat directly under the skin thins out and accumulates around the stomach. The ability to excrete fats is impaired, and therefore the storage of fats increases, including cholesterol and fat-soluble nutrients.
- Water. The amount of water in the body decreases, which therefore decreases the absorption of water-soluble nutrients. Also, there is less saliva and other lubricating fluids.
- Liver and Kidneys. The liver and the kidneys cannot function as efficiently, thus affecting the elimination of wastes.
- Digestion. A decrease in the ease of digestion, with a decrease in stomach acid production.
- Muscle Strength. A loss of muscle strength and coordination, with an accompanying loss of mobility, agility, and flexibility.
- Sex. A decline in sexual hormones and sexual functioning.
- Sensations. A decrease in the sensations of taste and smell.
- Cardiovascular and Respiratory System. Changes in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, leading to decreased oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
- Nervous System. Decreased functioning of the nervous system so that nerve impulses are not transmitted as efficiently, reflexes are not as sharp, and memory and learning are diminished.
- Bones. A decrease in bone strength and density.
- Harmones. Hormone levels, which gradually decline. The thyroid and sexual hormones are particularly affected.
- Other Diseases and Disorders.
- Declining visual abilities. Age-related changes may lead to diseases such as
- Macular degeneration
- A compromised ability to produce Vitamin D from sunlight
- A reduction in protein formation leading to shrinkage in muscle mass and decreased bone formation, possibly leading to osteoporosis
Signs of Premature Aging.
When older people become ill, the first signs of disease are often nonspecific. Further exams should be conducted if any of the following occur:-
- Diminished or lack of desire for food
- Increasing confusion
- Failure to thrive
- Urinary incontinence
- Weight loss
Prevention against Premature Aging.
Aging is unavoidable, but major physical impairment is not. People can lead a healthy, disability-free life well through their later years.
- Preventive health practices such as healthy diet, daily exercise, stress management, and control of lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking, can lengthen the life span and improve the quality of life as people age.
- Exercise can improve the appetite, the health of the bones, the emotional and mental outlook, and the digestion and circulation.
- Drinking plenty of fluids aids in maintaining healthy skin, good digestion, and proper elimination of wastes. Up to eight glasses of water should be consumed daily, along with plenty of herbal teas, diluted fruit and vegetable juices, and fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content.
- Because of a decrease in the sense of taste, older people often increase their intake of salt, which can contribute to high blood pressure and nutrient loss. Use of sugar is also increased. Seaweeds and small amounts of honey can be used as replacements.
- Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine all have potential damaging effects, and should be limited or completely eliminated from consumption.
- A diet high in fiber and low in fat is recommended.
- Processed foods should be replaced by complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains.
- If chewing becomes a problem, there should be an increased intake of protein drinks, freshly juiced fruits and vegetables, and creamed cereals.
Herbs for Healthy Aging.
- Garlic (Allium sativa) is helpful in preventing heart disease,as well as improving the tone and texture of skin. Garlic stimulates liver and digestive system functions, and also helps in dealing with heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) supports the adrenal glands and immune functions. It is believed to be helpful in treating problems related to stress. Siberian ginseng also increases mental and physical performance, and may be useful in treating memory loss, chronic fatigue, and immune dysfunction.
- Proanthocyanidins, or PCO, are Pycnogenol, derived from grape seeds and skin, and from pine tree bark, and may help in the prevention of cancer and poor vision.
Anti-aging Nutritional Supplements.
Consumption of a high quality multivitamin is recommended. Common nutritional deficiencies connected with aging include:-
- B vitamins
- Vitamins A and C
- Folic acid
- Trace minerals
- Antioxidants can help to neutralize damage by the free radical actions thought to contribute to problems of aging.