The Aging Process

The Aging Process

Aging is both a physical and physiological process that affects the human body. Although aging is a natural process predetermined by genetics, other environmental factors such as diseases and nutrition play a significant role in either slowing or accelerating it. Aging occurs simultaneously with the growth process (“The Aging Process,” n.d.). Every stage in life shapes the aging process. Most importantly, aging affects the quality and mass of bones and muscles. Over years, bones lose their density while muscles atrophy due to disuse. As a result an individual grows weak fail to meet self-care needs.

The aging process is wide and affects every system in the body. With aging, the muscles surrounding the chest cavity lose elasticity and become stiff, this hinders lung expansion during inhalation as well as reduces blood volume in the lungs (“The Aging Process,” n.d.). The cardiac cells also lose contractility thus lowering the strength of the heartbeat. Loss of muscular strength in both the respiratory and circulatory systems leads to reduced oxygen intake and low pulse rate respectively. Therefore, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases are common among the elderly.

The gastrointestinal functioning diminishes with aging; trouble begins with the loss of teeth which hinders mastication. The esophagus, the stomach, small and large intestines atrophy. The production of digestive enzymes such as lactase and gastric juices decreases, leading to poor digestion and absorption of food. Inadequate gastric juice leads to vitamin B12 deficiency. Other complications due to gastrointestinal changes include malnutrition, choking and constipation (“The Aging Process,” n.d.).

The immune system becomes weaker as an individual age due to reduced production of the antibodies by the thymus gland. Aging leads to shrinking and reduced physiological process of the thymus gland. Compromised immunity makes the elderly susceptible to infections. Moreover, aging causes reduced sensory functioning. The sense of touch diminishes; taste becomes poor, sight as well as hearing decreases. The change in sensory perceptions leads to reduced quality of life.

The aging process also affects the metabolic system. Loss of muscle mass leads to excessive fat accumulation since most calories are not burned. The number of mitochondria diminishes as muscle waste away, giving room to fat build up around the waist (“The Aging Process,” n.d.).

What I learned from the Web site

Besides aging being a natural process that is mainly shaped by genetics, environmental factors such as diet, diseases, social habits and stress play a role. For instance, stress accelerates aging by interfering with the DNA structure (telomere) that controls cell growth (“Aging,” n.d.). Stress affects nearly all body systems and has the same consequences to different body cells. Also, stress increases cellular metabolism leading to excessive accumulation of hazardous waste materials in the cells, hence speeding up the aging process (“The Aging Process,” n.d.).

How to “Slow Down” the Aging Process

Although the aging process is structured before birth, it is possible to control its rate by manipulating the environmental factors (“The Aging Process,” n.d.). For example, exercise, eating a balanced diet, avoiding excess smoking and alcohol intake can help slow the aging speed. Moreover, controlling stress factors is an important ingredient of slowing the aging process (“Aging,” n.d.). Additionally, preventing lifestyle diseases such as hypertension and diabetes help slow the aging process by keeping the body systems in the normal functioning state. Diet is equally important in slowing the aging process; it is important for individuals to have adequate calcium, vitamin D, fresh fruits, and vegetables as they age. Vitamin D and calcium make bones stronger while fruits and vegetable are antioxidants that eliminate free radicals that are harmful to body cells.

References

Aging: The Stress Factor. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2015

The Aging Process. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2015

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