Aging has always fascinated mankind. While researchers know the working of organs and cells of the body declines with aging, they want to find out how the aging process occurs and whether there is any chance of stopping or reversing it. The aging process is usually explained with the help of theories, as researchers still do not know why human age.
Some researchers claim that aging occurs due to genetics, while others say that the body is programmed to age after a certain period of time. There are still others that claim the aging process occurs due to environmental factors.
Factors Influencing the Aging Process
Many environmental and genetic factors come into play where aging is concerned. All these factors have a profound effect on the body. It goes without saying that every person on this earth has their own genes and DNA. These genes tend to interact with the environment, and that is why the aging process varies from one person to the next. While genes primarily are responsible for the aging process, environment too plays a role in triggering on or off the genes. If a person has genes that hasten the aging process, the environment can influence it. For instance, the person gets access to good quality healthcare, then it will have an effect on the aging process and will also determine how long the person lives. Environmental factors have the ability to increase or decrease a person’s lifespan.
The Aging Process
As person ages, the body undergoes many changes that occur visibly and also invisibly. Visibly the person begins to get fine lines and wrinkles, and the hair begins to gray and fall. The invisible changes occur at a cellular level. As a person ages, the cells lose their ability to multiply fast. Hence, the rate of multiplication of cells reduces. As a result, repairs in the body take longer than before. Cells that are part of the immune system reduce with aging which weakens the system. As a result, the person is more susceptible to infections and diseases.
In addition, the body loses its ability of apoptosis, which is a natural process wherein the cells die after a specific period of time. This process is important for tissues to stay healthy.
The process of aging also brings forth many changes in the body. A person’s height reduces as a person ages. When the loss of height starts and how fast it occurs vary from person to person. Typically, a person’s height increases until they reach their late 40s. Thereafter, the height begins to decrease. By the time a person reaches their 80s, they would have lost 2 inches of their original height. The loss of height occurs due to changes in the spine, feet and posture.
Besides height, the body weight also changes. Typically, weight among men increases till their reach mid-50s and thereafter the weight begins to decrease. The loss is fast in the 60s and 70s for men. On the other hand, women begin noticing a loss of weight after their late 60s, but the rate of loss is not as fast as that of men.
The aging process without the presence of disease is quite ordinary and simple. The body tends to stay healthy on the whole even though the functioning of the organs may be less or reduced. Most healthy people will not notice signs of changes in the body until they exert themselves or are put through physical stress.
However, if the person is unhealthy, it is because of the lifestyle habits the person has or had. This can make the aging process more painful, as the person will have many diseases and health issues that will require medications and monitoring. Many people always put these changes as natural part of aging. However, it is not so. If people want, they can age healthily by eating healthy, doing regular exercise and living a happy and stress-free life.
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The AGS Foundation For Health In Aging: The Aging Process