Hope everyone’s had a great weekend and a moderately decent Monday. Today’s topic is of universal precedence, and often lurks in the minds of many. Some may be concerned by premature lines, whilst others are preoccupied with diminished energy or poor memory.
Ageing has indeed become an adjective. The common man often believes ageing is inevitable and that it is part and parcel of fate. But has anyone ever wondered, what are the intricacies that has transpired within the body – eliciting this controlled and premeditated event called ageing.
There are two main groups of aging theories. The first group states that aging is natural and programmed into the body, while the second group of aging theories say that aging is a result of damage which is accumulated over time. In the end, aging is a complex interaction of genetics, chemistry, physiology and behavior.
- Programmed theories assert that the human body is designed to age and there is a certain biological timeline that our bodies follow.
- Programmed Longevity: Aging is caused by certain genes switching on and off over time.
- Endocrine Theory: Changes in hormones control aging.
- Immunological Theory: The immune system is programmed to decline over time, leaving people more susceptible to diseases.
- Error Theories: assert that aging is caused by environmental damage to our body’s systems, which accumulates over time.
- Wear and Tear: Cells and tissues simply wear out.
- Rates of Living: The faster an organism uses oxygen, the shorter it lives.
- Cross Linking:: Cross-linked proteins accumulate and slow down body processes.
- Free Radicals: Free radicals cause damage to cells that eventually impairs function.
- Somatic DNA Damage: Genetic mutations cause cells to malfunction.
Studies have demonstrated that genetics can play a major role in aging. When researchers adjust the genes in certain mice, yeast cells and other organisms, they can almost double the lifespan of these creatures. The meaning of these experiments for people is not known, but researchers think that genetics account for up to 35 percent of the variation in aging among people.
As we age, our body’s organs and other systems make changes. These changes alter our susceptibility to various diseases. Researchers are just beginning to understand the processes that cause changes over time in our body systems. Understanding these processes is important because many of the effects of aging are first noticed in our body systems. Here is a brief overview of how some body systems age:
- Heart Aging: The heart muscle thickens with age as a response to the thickening of the arteries. This thicker heart has a lower maximum pumping rate.
- Immune System Aging: T cells take longer to replenish in older people and their ability to function declines.
- Arteries and Aging: Arteries usually to stiffen with age, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood through them.
- Lung Aging: The maximum capacity of the lungs may decrease as much as 40 percent between ages 20 and 70.
- Brain Aging: As the brain ages, some of the connections between neurons seem to be reduced or less efficient. This is not yet well understood.
- Kidney Aging: The kidneys become less efficient at cleaning waste from the body.
- Bladder Aging: The total capacity of the bladder declines and tissues may atrophy, causing incontinence.
- Body Fat and Aging: Body fat increases until middle age and then weight typically begins to decrease. The body fat also moves deeper in the body as we age.
- Muscle Aging: Muscle tone declines about 22 percent by age 70, though exercise can slow this decline.
- Bone Aging: Starting at age 35, our bones begin to lose density. Walking, running and resistance training can slow this process.
- Sight and Aging: Starting in the 40s, difficulty seeing close detail may begin.
- Hearing and Aging: As people age, the ability to hear high frequencies declines.
So what is it we mere mortals can do to combat this dance with mother nature?
Dr. Aarthi Maria