How to Remain Healthy and Fit while Aging
According to biology, the aging process is one of progressive changes in a cell, tissue, organ, or an organism and it results in a reduction of the functional capacity. In human beings, aging has to do with degenerative shifts in the skin, bones, heart, blood vessels, nerves, lungs, as well as in other tissues and organs. Although there have been a lot of theories aimed at explaining aging, ultimately, the genes have the major influence, as seen on Age Well.
The cycle of human cells is influenced by strings of genetic material known as telomers and they are located at the ends of chromosomes. Every time a cell divides, the telomere becomes shorter and ages and eventually the cell dies when the telomere is too short to sustain life. However, there are also other contributing factors to aging that will be discussed in this article, as well as a set of useful methods to stay healthy and fit while aging.
What Are the Causes of Aging?
In addition to genetics as a decisive element in our aging, the environment also plays its role, as seen on Age Well. Namely, exposure to pollutants present in polluted air is known to trigger shifts in the skin’s biophysical characteristics and structure and thus, elevates its susceptibility to damage caused by free radicals. In addition to premature aging, air pollution also interferers with the respiratory and cardiovascular health.
Another decisive factor to premature aging is our diet. Namely, as explained on Age Well, studies with animals have shown that low-calorie diets may slow down the progression of the aging process through the decrease of the rate at which free radicals (substances that harm the tissues) are created in the body.
According to Web Md, excessive intake of added sugar and processed carbs can impede the collagen of the skin and make it more wrinkly and saggy. On the other hand, veggies and fruits are good for the skin and for the overall health and well-being, as well as beans, whole grains, and some types of fish like salmon.
With certainty, getting older is a normal part of our existence and no one is immune to it; however, it does not necessarily have to mean that getting older entails numerous health problems and poor quality of life. As explained on Everyday Health, aging comes with both positive and negative changes, but if we understand it properly and take the necessary steps to keep our health at an optimal level, we can make this experience an enjoyable one.
What Are the Major Bodily Changes that Come with Aging?
As previously mentioned, aging is known to come with different transformations in different body areas like the brain, bones, and skin. Let us take a look at some of the most common ones, according to Everyday Health:
As we become older, the skin becomes less elastic and more saggy and wrinkled. It is important to point out that your skin can look much better while you are aging if you have regularly protected it from the sunrays and smoking at a younger age.
- Sex life
After the period of menopause, women often experience reduction in vaginal lubrication whereas men may be more prone to erectile dysfunction.
As the years go by, the tooth enamel protecting the teeth from decay begins to wear out and one becomes more prone to cavities; elderly also have a higher risk of gum illness. Regular dental hygiene can maintain the health of your teeth and gums and avert more severe dental problems in old age.
As the years go by, one’s digestive system becomes firmer and more rigid and does not contract as often as it did. In a lot of cases, this is manifested through stomach ache, nausea, and constipation. These issues may be relieved with a healthier diet.
The hearing and vision may also deteriorate as we age, as well as the sense of taste, smell, and touch. Your body now takes longer to react and requires more for stimulation.
With aging, the heart may enlarge, the heart rate may decrease, and its walls may become thicker. Working out and following a balanced diet can keep the heart healthy.
- Brain and nervous system
Slight forgetfulness in elderly is not something uncommon and it is considered to be a normal result of old age and there may also be shifts in one’s reflexes and senses. When the cells and nerves are overly damaged by the creation of plaque, the risk of dementia is much higher.
Old age may make your bones thinner and more brittle, especially if you are a woman, and lead to a bone condition known as osteoporosis. Low bone mass and thin bones increase the risk of falls and broken bones. Your physician can tell you about the ways to avert osteoporosis and consequent falls.
Aging Gracefully Is Doable
As mentioned on Web Md, one study done at Harvard showed that instead of being obsessed with your genetics or cholesterol levels while aging, you should be more focused on these several factors that were found to be most predictive of whether one will go through middle age into old age successfully:
- Not smoking
- Good coping skills
- Balanced weight
- Regular exercise
- Good social relationships
Moreover, as pointed out on Web Md, as our diet has an effect on how healthy and youthful we feel and look and since it is something that we can adjust, it is of crucial importance to learn what foods to base our diet on and which ones to eat as less as possible.
Exclude or lower the intake of these foods:
- French fries
- Potato chips
- Pastries with sugar
- Fatty meat
- Hot dogs, pepperoni, bacon
Elevate the intake of the following foods:
- Romaine lettuce
Here are some additional tips to make older age more pleasant:
If your home feels empty, a dog or a cat is never a bad idea. Namely, people who keep them have lower bad cholesterol and lower risk of heart illness. Pets are also an excellent way to add daily exercise to your life.
Making new friends or learning a new language or an instrument will help you create new brain pathways and maintain optimal brain health as you age. Moreover, these options will help you lead a more exciting and happy life.
Volunteering or just spending more time with family and friends will maintain a sharp mind and contribute to fewer memory-related issues.
Aging is not as negative as usually thought. In fact, the older one gets, the more satisfied they are. Hence, as seen on BBC, you should look forward to the future and to the beautiful gifts of older age, i.e. being a grandparent, becoming wiser and smarter, being less prone to allergies and migraines, and believe it or not, delighting in a better sex life!