The best defense against aging poorly is to simply know what’s going on with your body. It’s something that all men and women go through as the years progress. The National Library of Medicine is a wealth of knowledge on the subject. They lay out the aging process in a way that makes it very easy for you to understand. While there are lots of different things happening, we can focus on a few of the most important ones right here. Even if you can’t do anything about them, it’s a very good idea to at least know what’s happening to your body.
How Cells Change
All cells experience changes with aging. They become larger and are less able to divide and multiply. Among other changes, there is an increase in pigments and fatty substances inside the cell (lipids). Many cells lose their ability to function, or they begin to function abnormally. As aging continues, waste products build up in tissue. A fatty brown pigment called lipofuscin collects in many tissues, as do other fatty substances. These cells are the building blocks of all other tissues. That means that these cell changes will affect all other areas of your body.
Connective tissue changes and becomes stiffer. This makes the organs, blood vessels, and airways more rigid. Cell membranes change, so many tissues have more trouble getting oxygen and nutrients and removing carbon dioxide and other wastes. Many tissues lose mass. This process is called atrophy. Some tissues become lumpy (nodular) or more rigid. Because of cell and tissue changes, your organs also change as you age. Aging organs slowly lose function. Most people do not notice this loss immediately, because you rarely need to use your organs to their fullest ability. This translates to changes in your organs.
Organs and Reserve Ability
Organs have a reserve ability to function beyond the usual needs. For example, the heart of a 20-year-old is capable of pumping about 10 times the amount of blood that is actually needed to keep the body alive. After age 30, an average of 1% of this reserve is lost each year. The biggest changes in organ reserve occur in the heart, lungs, and kidneys. The amount of reserve lost varies between people and between different organs in a single person. These changes appear slowly and over a long period. When an organ is worked harder than usual, it may not be able to increase function. Sudden heart failure or other problems can develop when the body is worked harder than usual.
Work to Help Yourself
While these changes can’t be completely stopped, you can make changes to slow them down and increase your quality of life. All you have to do is make sure you’re exercising and eating a healthy diet. It’s also a major benefit to improve your outlook. A positive outlook on life will make it much easier to get and stay healthy. The healthier you are, the slower these changes will be.